Shanna Wegman grew up on the family dairy farm in Wisconsin where everything was streamlined and efficient to obtain greater yields. Her father used antibiotics, sprays and fertilizers on the farm. Although Shanna loved life on a farm, she believed in better farming practices and protecting the land.
Shanna left college to work on a certified organic farm milking cows at four every morning. She learned about self-sustainability and how farming affects the land. Then, in 2007 she moved to Minnesota and was given two goats to satisfy her curiosity and follow her dream of becoming an organic farmer. Shanna began using the goat’s milk for cheeses and yogurts. Since the goats were producing about a gallon and a half each per day, she had a lot of unused milk. Fortunately, she had a dear friend who taught her to make goat’s milk soap. In 2009, Shanna opened Simple Soaps for Simple Folks.
It didn’t take long for Shanna to perfect the soap making process. She says, “There are several steps including mixing, melting, pouring and trimming before the process is complete. It takes about an hour or so. Once the soap is in the mold, I use what’s called a handcrafted cold process, meaning the soap must cure for 4-6 weeks before it is sellable. I believe good things take time and patience.”
Shanna uses only the best ingredients in her soap. Based on her secret recipe, she uses goat’s milk, along with certified organic coconut, palm, olive and caster oils, and sodium hydroxide for the saponification process which helps convert the fat in soaps. Occasionally she uses oat bran and chicken egg shells from her farm. Shanna doesn’t use any dyes, pigments or harsh chemicals often found in commercial soap.
Shanna says, “I make every bar with love. There’s no funky junk in them so you’ll get a nice creamy lather that is good for your skin.” Each bar of soap has a unique pattern, some quirky and cute, some delicate and subtle. She has more than 40 different scents to satisfy any nose. The types of scents are essential oils like lemon and rosemary or patchouli and Ylang Ylang, and fragrance oil scents including peach blossom, French vanilla and pomegranate. And, if you love a loofah at bath time, she offers Lil’ Scrubber Soaps with the loofah formed within the soap.
Shanna’s goat herd has grown to seven to keep up with the demand for her soap. She makes about three tons of soap every year, mostly in the winter months. Currently she has about 6500 bars of soap in inventory, so she is prepared for artisan events throughout the summer. She attends about one artisan event a month and participates in the Rochester, Winona and Cameron Park Farmers Markets, plus she has a retail shop located in Dover.
Somewhere along the way, she found time to create solid hand lotion bars made with certified organic oils and local beeswax. She also created LIPP(iness), a line of lip butter created with certified organic olive oil and local beeswax.
Because Shanna believes in handcrafted products she supports local crafters too. Her store is full of goodies from closet crafters. Currently, the shop also sells soy candles, glassware jewelry and other homemade things. Every two months, the vendors rotate to keep things interesting. Shanna is always looking for local artisans to sell their items at Simple Soaps.
Shanna is grateful for all of her customers. “Without their support and loyalty I wouldn’t be where I am today. I love seeing my customers come back week after week either stocking up for themselves or buying gifts for friends.” But, if you’re short on time, she offers a Bulk SOAP program (Soap On A Plan): your favorite bars of soap are delivered to you each month so you don’t have to worry about running out.
If you’re interested in getting down and dirty, you too can be a part of the process. Shanna offers soap making classes January through May in her own private studio, where you get to see her in action and take home your own creations. It’s a delightful way to go behind the scenes at Simple Soaps for Simple Folks.