Health concerns lead to dream business called Riverside Goat Milk Soap

Heather Olson puts together her goat milk soap and lotion batches in a newly outfitted room in her basement.

By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
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What began with the knowledge that her youngest child was lactose intolerant, is now a dream come true for Heather Olson with Riverside Goat Milk Soap and other products.

In addition to her daughter, Marianna’s, lactose intolerance, Olson’s husband also has psoriasis and one son, Clayton, had eczema.

Internet research showed her the wonders of goat milk. “One of the positive aspects of goat milk is that it is already homogenized (blended), so the human body doesn’t have to work so hard to digest it,” Olson said.

The Olsons, who live between Sauk Centre and Long Prairie, were then raising sheep and goats for meat and added dairy goats in June 2010.

Currently, Olson is milking three Alpine goats named Jazzy, Bunny and SaraBeth and a Saanen named Blueberry. An Alpine/Nubian cross named Lucky will be ready for milking soon.

“The four goats are producing three and a half gallons of milk a day,” said Olson.

She was yearning to make goat’s milk soap before the health issues arose, so it was an unexpected benefit of having milk goats to be able to do that.

Olson did a lot of praying when first making the soap. Her verse, as stated on her Web site, is 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

The first batches were no good, so Olson decided to adapt and combine two recipes she found online.

When searching for ingredients for the recipe, she found it was impossible to find a very common item. After calling many stores in a wide area, she gave up and in the meantime discovered coconut oil and its health value.

“That recipe turned out perfectly the first time I made it, and I’ve been using it ever since,” said Olson. “I give credit where credit is due. I prayed my way to that recipe and was given the exact oils to use and the correct proportions.”

“And while I was able to find the other ingredient right in town once I had made the soap, I no longer needed it,” she said. “God obviously intended that I not use that one.”

The soaps take six weeks to cure, for the moisture to evaporate and the bars to harden. Olson was eagerly waiting to use them.

Olson’s youngest son, Clayton’s, eczema disappeared when he started using goat milk soap. Her husband’s psoriasis is well-managed with the soap, but if he runs out while he’s out of town, it does come back.

Soap was just the beginning, though. Olson has added lotions and lip balms with many scents. She has foaming soap and regular liquid soap as well as laundry soap. All of the products are available scented or unscented.

Olson sells her soaps and lotions in retail locations, including Main Street Coffee Shop in Sauk Centre, Country Consignments in Rose City, Rustic Stables hair salon in Brooten and The Coffee Joint at Isaac’s Well in Darlington, Wis.

In 2011, she took her products to craft shows in Sauk Centre, Long Prairie and Little Falls for the first time. Orders are also accepted through the Internet.

This is a dream come true for Olson as she can stay home to homeschool her four children.

“My oldest son, Dakota, started parochial school in Sauk Centre, but the more I looked into homeschooling when Taylor was ready, the more I liked all the ideas behind it,” Olson said.

She started using her kitchen for the soap and lotion production, but now has a finished and outfitted room in her basement.

“I had to relearn how to do it when the process moved from the kitchen to the basement,” she said, “because of the difference in humidity and other conditions.”

A Saanen goat named Blueberry (right) is one of Olson’s small herd.

Olson’s husband, Marty, gives soap away while he is on the road with his truck. Through that, she has received orders from as far as Arizona and Canada.

“We have donated soaps to an orphanage in El Salvador,” said Olson. “We also adopted a soldier in Afghanistan online and every month we send him a box of things, including the soaps, which he loves.”

“Making soap at home has given me a creative outlet and an active part in providing safe products for family and friends, as well as a business,” she said. “It was my husband’s encouragement to branch out that led to all these products, and the drive to improve my children’s lives.”

Riverside Goats is located online at: www.river