Thursday, October 6

Featured Artist: Grettas Goats

So I ran across this amazing soap maker when looking for Friday's Favorites a few weeks back.  I could tell just from her shop, that she was an amazing person, but after conducting the interview, I was completely knocked off my feet.  She is so inspiring, putting others first, and putting her skills and knowledge to use in the community.  For these reasons, and many others, are why I believe in and support homemade... 

Read it. You'll be inspired too! (Oh and a goat named "Sham-Wow" just puts the cherry on top!)

Carin:  What started you into soap making?

Gretta:  Two years ago I traveled to Romania as a volunteer teacher for children who are blind and visually impaired. I was so inspired by the Romanian teachers that I volunteered with due to their passion for their students. They all seemed to possess a joyful spirit, despite facing hardships and obstacles in a country where special education students are discriminated against. Most special needs children are institutionalized and not educated. These teachers desperately wanted to learn how to help the children of Romania and give them the education that they deserved. When I returned to the U.S. I continued to help the teachers through email support and shipping donations. I raised money for the organization called Light Into Europe that helps children who are blind in Romania. I raised this money through running a marathon and the donations I collected went towards buying educational materials for some of the students I worked with directly in Romania. Perkins Braille Writers were also purchased for the children to be able to learn to read and write braille. After my fundraising efforts ended for the marathon, I knew that there was still such a great need there, so I wanted to keep going with my fundraising efforts. I felt uncomfortable asking my friends and family to donate more money through running events. I wanted to start a small business where a portion of my proceeds could benefit these special kids that I had come to love in such a short time! This is where the idea for Gretta's Goats was born.

I had grown up on a small hobby farm in Michigan and had loved my time in nature, spent with my animals and running through the open space that surrounded my childhood home. I had always felt most at peace when surrounded by nature and animals. I had seen the therapeutic benefits that animals had brought to some of my special education students over the years. A business that incorporated animals into it seemed like the perfect fit. I imagined some of my students coming to the farm and spending some hands on time with the goats. I had always loved goats and their friendly nature!

We had moved from Chicago to the Grayslake area several years ago, with the intention of moving to the conversation community we now live in. When we had read about Prairie Crossing and its organic farm at the center of the community, we knew it would a good fit for us. We wanted access to local, organic and sustainable food. I had applied to the Farm Business Development Program at Prairie Crossing Farm in the winter of 2011. I received acceptance and got my first goat in April! I hand milk my goats twice daily and they graze on certified organic pasture. I create handmade organic soaps from my goats fresh milk.
I love that I can combine my passion for teaching children with special needs and animals into one business.

Carin:  What is your favorite part of the business? What is your least favorite part?

Gretta:  My favorite part of the business is the time that I get to spend with my goats! Violet is a sweet pygora goat, Diego is the mischievous one in the group, Sham-Wow, is the herd leader, and Naya has the most beautiful eyelashes and loves to be scratched under her chin! I love the early mornings on the farm when the prairie grasses bend in the fall breeze.
The least favorite part of my business is the hoof trimming! The goats don't like it either! Unfortunately, their hoofs have to trimmed about every 4 weeks!

Carin:  What inspires you?
Gretta:  The prairie inspires me to create my handmade soap. The abundance of wildflowers, prairie grasses, and wildlife keep me motivated to come up with new creations. Watching the other farmers at Prairie Crossing grow their organic crops, inspires me through their hard work to grow sustainable food. Watching my students grow in independence inspires me everyday. Watching the goats frolic in the pasture inspires. My time in Romania continues to amaze me and the commitment that so many people give to the children there. The kindness I see others give so freely to people who really need that kindness inspires me.

Carin:  What are your future plans or goals for the business?

Gretta:   My plans for my business are to obtain my dairy license, make and sell goat cheese, and possibility goat milk ice cream in the future! My goal is to grow my business so I can continue to support the Romanian children who are blind and visually impaired through donating educational materials and teaching in Romania on a volunteer basis. My dream is to obtain more farm land and farm on full time basis!

Thanks again Gretta!  For your wonderful story, and beautiful products! Good luck!

Find Gretta's Products here:

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