Today, a little interview and giveaway with Ashley, the soapmaker behind The Tiny Farm Company. As Ashley says on her site, "The Tiny Farm is truly tiny. Just a few acres in Arkansas." But after perusing all of her delicious sounding, coconut oil soap and clicking around her blog, I get the idea that Ashley and her family pack a lot of wonderful living onto their sweet little piece of land. Welcome Ashley!
Me: I discovered your shop partly because a bunch of nice ladies in my online mommies group recommended coconut oil for my itchy pregnant belly. The Tiny Farm Co. has a whole line of pure coconut oil, yummy scented soaps like Sweet Orange and Pomegranate--mmmm! How did you get started making soap? And is the process for coconut oil soap very different?
Ashley: It was my husband's idea! Since discovering our families allergies to all things artificial, we began making a lot of things for ourselves. We live in a very rural area so buying organic or all natural alternatives to products isn't very easy. Soap wasn't something we thought about when we first eliminated artificials from our lives but we quickly found that the smell from most store bought soaps would give us headaches and worse for our kids.
My husband loves the science behind these types of things so he looked up the process and began to order ingredients and equipment. My one condition was that we make it out of coconut oil, seeing as how I'm a coconut oil junkie. I believe the process is pretty much the same, but besides one batch of a basic bath bar I've only ever made coconut oil soap. Our liquid soap is made by my husband who finds that sort of thing fascinating. It's a much more involved process.
Me: In addition to making soap for Tiny Farm, you home-school 3 kiddos, keep chickens and bees, and write a blog. What does a typical day look like for you with so many bodies and projects to care for?
Ashley: A typical day for me is busy! I'm up early to fit in a workout then we all have our morning chores. The kids pitch in to take care of the animals. Breakfast is a simple affair and then we school the rest of the morning and early afternoon. Everyone takes an hour of quiet time after school and that's when I blog, take product pictures, make soap, answer emails, prepare shipments, or update our site.
Afternoons are for outside work. I'm lucky in that my kids are still young enough to help me without complaining and old enough to really be able to help. My six year old, Stella, might be the hardest worker we have. Every child has their niche around here. They know what they are good at and they've figured out how to work together to get it done so playtime comes quicker.
Warren, my husband, always makes it home for dinner and we all sit around the big table together every night for a home-cooked meal. It usually includes something out of the garden or the hen house. We eat a lot of eggs!
I think the secret to not getting overwhelmed when you have so much going on is to really include your family as much as you can. I've got kids looking out for the bees, sticking labels to product containers, herding chickens, helping in the kitchen. And I have a lot of to do lists lying around. You can't do it all on your own.
Me: And speaking of bees--I'm a bee junkie--any plans to incorporate your own beeswax and honey into your soaps?
Ashley: We are fairly new beekeepers. Right now our mission is to help them survive and thrive. I use beeswax in our lip balm and hope that someday soon it will be coming from our own hives.
Me: Lastly, I see from your site that you have a pet soap coming soon. Can you tell us more about how that's going and when it might be available?
Ashley: The pet soap has fallen down the to do list. The coconut oil bar sales have taken off and I've not found the time to create and test the pet shampoo like I had hoped. The first few batches we tried and tested (on our thick furred shepherds) weren't what I was looking for. I have high hopes that this Fall when the outside work slows done we can continue to work on that particular product. It really is important to me that we create a natural coconut oil wash for the four-legged members of our family.
Ashley has generously agreed to giveaway a three pack of Tiny Farm soap and a tin of her lip balm. To win, go check out all of The Tiny Farm Company's soaps, and leave a comment below with your favorite scent. I'll pick a winner this time next week.
[The Tiny Farm Co. is a MBE sponsor. Mmmwah, to all the lovely folks over there in the sidebar that help me justify the time I spend pecking away at my keyboard and clickin' with my camera.]