Business

Buying goats, not cows, leads to business: Lily's Country Soaps sold locally, on the web

Cindi Fry strains a mixture containing goat’s milk as she makes a batch of activated charcoal soap in her production kitchen at her Van Horne, Iowa, home Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. Fry operates Lily’s Country Soaps, where she uses milk from her herd of goats. Fry has also collaborated with Dash Coffee and Clock House Brewing to incorporate coffee and beer into some of her products. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Cindi Fry strains a mixture containing goat’s milk as she makes a batch of activated charcoal soap in her production kitchen at her Van Horne, Iowa, home Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. Fry operates Lily’s Country Soaps, where she uses milk from her herd of goats. Fry has also collaborated with Dash Coffee and Clock House Brewing to incorporate coffee and beer into some of her products. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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VAN HORNE — Sometimes too much of something can be a good thing. Just ask Cindi Fry, owner of Lily’s Country Soaps in rural Van Horne.

“It all started with a family field trip to a goat farm for school,” Fry recalled. “My husband, Steve, and I wanted to buy either small cows or goats. We went on the field trip and my daughter fell in love with the goats.

“We wound up having more goat milk than we could drink, so I did some research to figure out what I could do with all this milk. Soap was the first thing I found and tried, and I’ve become addicted to making soap.”

Fry has expanded her product lines beyond soaps to lotions, lip butters and lip butter pockets, emulsified sugar rubs, bubble bath truffle and wooden wick soy candles.

“I try to introduce new products, but soaps keep me pretty busy,” Fry said. “I started offering goat soaps in a couple of local craft shows and that progressed to the Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers’ Market.

“One thing that almost held us back was the insurance. Every vendor has to have a $1 million liability insurance policy and it was so expensive.

“I could not decide because it was a big chunk of money, but my husband made the decision that we needed to try it. We love doing the farmers market.”

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Fry initially made goat soaps in her kitchen, ”but we never got to eat. My husband made me a soap kitchen in the basement and now he still doesn’t get to eat because I’m in the basement,” Fry laughed. “There’s a lot of steps that go into making and selling goat soaps and lotions.

“After I make the soap, it must sit for four weeks before I remove the mold. It needs to be cut and cured in a separate space before it can be wrapped.”

Fry also prepares the labels for the different varieties of goat soap, such as Cranberry Crush, Frankincense and Myrrh, Frazier Fir, Fruit Loops Gingerbread Graham, Mint Mocha, Peppermint Bark, Pine Forest, Pumpkin Mocha Latte, Spiced Apple Cider and Unicorn Hot Cocoa, to name a few.

“I’ve also made a few soaps with local ingredients,” she said. “I also have made two soaps with Dash Coffee Roasters flavors and beer from two breweries — Millstream Brewing in Amana and Clock House Brewing in Cedar Rapids.”

“I use essential oils when I can,” Fry said. “I also use fragrance oils because an essential oil is not available for something like lilac, and that is one of our best-sellers.

“My husband and my middle son have sensitive skin and fragrance oils don’t bother them, so I feel confident about that.”

Fry said pricing products is the hardest part of her business.

“You have to sell it at a price that people will buy it, but you want to make a profit,” she said. “It’s really hard.”

While Fry stays busy making and packaging lotions and soaps, her husband helps by making soy candles.

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“We use soy from American farmers and a wooden wick,” she said. “We never bought candles with wooden wicks in the past because they were so expensive. We started using them because they crackle when they burn.”

From local craft shows and farmers markets, Fry has expanded her market for Lily’s Country Soaps, lotions and candles to Millstream Brewing, Clock House Brewing and Dash in Cedar Rapids, Dan and Debbie’s Creamery in Ely, Cornerstone Apothecary in Van Horne and Henkle Creek Mercantile in Vinton.

Fry also sells her products on her website, https://www.lilyscountrysoaps.com.

l Garage Band takes a look at small businesses in their early, start-up phase. If you have any suggestions, email michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com.

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