Soap and Lotion Business a Family Affair
Does your dream job involve getting up at 5:30 a.m.? That’s the time Washington resident Angela Graham Steele starts to work during goat-birthing season in April.
Angie and husband Todd are the owners of Steele Family Farm, a producer of handcrafted soaps and lotions. The business’ name is on the mark, as it’s truly a family affair. Angie milks the goats and produces the lotions, while her husband, whose day job is at Tinker Air Force Base, is the soap maker. Their four sons—Luke, Lane, Nate and Jake—help with everything from packaging to caring for the animals, which in addition to the goats includes three horses, a miniature horse, cattle, roosters and chickens, a rabbit, ducks, cats and dogs.
Among the last are three Great Pyrenees (plus a puppy-in-training), which in addition to being pets serve as the goats’ security force. To date, says Angie, not one goat has been lost to coyotes, thanks to these natural herders and protectors.
The Steele goat milk soap and lotion business was launched in 2014, after a year of planning. Today, they have 12 Nubian goats, one buck and 19 babies!
Among the Steeles’ offerings is a facial soap bar called Black Gold that contains tea tree essential oil as its active ingredient and activated charcoal powder, which gives it its rich black color, along with a proprietary blend of other ingredients. Black Gold may be used to combat acne and the scarring that it can cause.
Another soap, Goatmeal Honey, was developed as a treatment for eczema and psoriasis, among other dermatological conditions, after their youngest son at age 1 developed eczema that didn’t respond to the various creams and other medications commercially developed for the condition. “We already had the goats, so we tried it,” said Angie, smiling. “And it worked.”
They also produce soaps and lotions with such recognizable scents as patchouli, coconut lime, lavender, and strawberries and champagne, along with those less easily identifiable, such as sun and sand and tall cotton. For those with sensitive skin, they produce a Castile soap that’s unscented, though Angie says they have had no reports of any allergic reactions to any of their products. The couple periodically add and subtract products, based on demand.
Todd said they have come a long way since launching their product line. Starting with recipes gleaned from research using books and the Internet, they have honed their craft to produce their own, unique product.
The Steeles use only natural ingredients and no preservatives, starting with goat milk, oils, lye and other materials like oatmeal. Each batch is made by hand, in small (15-pound) batches.
And though it might not make a difference in the quality of their product, the Steeles ensure that they get their milk from happy goats. Angie even waits a month after their kids are born to milk the nannies (to give them time to bond properly), and maintains a short milking season (May to July or August) rather than year-round. (The excess milk is frozen for later use.)
Look for their products at various venues in Norman, including Coki Bay, Two Hip Chicks, Circa, and Tulips gift shop, as well as online at steelefamilyfarm.com.
The Steele Family Farm will have a booth at the Farm Girl Fair, set for Sept. 24 at the Sandy River Ranch in northwest Norman.
Angie notes that they do little advertising; there has been little need, as they have many loyal repeat customers, who pass along positive news about the products through word of mouth.