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Bailey Brook Farm launches William’s Naturals Hand Crafted Dairy Soap

There are generations of family memories at the Bailey Brook Farm, home to Cher, Paul and their 3 children and at one time, 50 milking cows. In recent years producing Rhody Fresh Milk, the family is now creating new memories producing soap, staying true to the healthy, all-natural criteria that earned them entry into the Farm Fresh RI hub signifying healthy, local food.

“It was our daughter, Rachel’s idea, notes mom, Cher. “Take daddy’s cow milk and make soap. Many of our farmer friends make goat milk, let’s talk with them,”  thought Rachel. It would become a project that would include her brother, Will, a jovial 31-year-old farm hand with Down Syndrome and developmental disabilities. 

After much research, discussion, and many recipes, mom tried her first batch. “It wasn’t perfect. It must be precise, but it’s fun” she reported. Not surprisingly, in subsequent batches, nothing less than the “special” cow offering high butterfat for maximum creaminess would do. Twenty bars of Irish lemon grass soap, an Irish recipe using four different oils, and William’s Naturals Hand Crafted Dairy  Soap business had begun.

Working a farm is arduous. Adding the time-consuming soap manufacturing process to the family’s heavy workload would seem impossible. “Making soap is a labor of love. Will loves it,” says Cher with an unmistakable warmth in her voice. “He loves the smell,” listing the current line-up of soaps, such as lavender with tea tree, lavender with walnut, lemon cream, and honeysuckle. 

Cher lists the chores, those that include tending to the cows occasionally escaping at 2:00 am, the frequent medical appointments for Will, and this new venture. She acknowledges, “it’s a hard, but fun life. This new adventure is good. It keeps Will going.” She proudly recalls him saying that he’s “living a happy and comfortable life. And, when the ladies come to buy soap, he smiles,” referring to his former grade schoolteachers in particular. His job is to apply the signature cow’s stamp on each cured bar, cut them to size, wrap them and prepare them for sale. 

Logically, product sales began with ten bars at the Bailey’s farm East Greenwich. Across the street they sold both soap and cornstalks at the popular and historic Fry Farm. Cher’s sister-in-law soon will soon include an assortment of products in her local store in Exeter, Emma Acres. Also, a Warwick-based farmer who purchases hay from the Bailey farm has invited them to sell soap in their store this spring. 

As for the business itself, last spring, Cher and Will enrolled in the RI Developmental Disabilities Council’s (RIDDC) free Self Employment Business Project, a series of eight classes, plus one-on-one technical counseling and support, and launched the business in July. While unquestionably beneficial to the business’s success, carving out that additional time would be a challenge. So would be the ever-rising costs of all natural ingredients. Cher calculates that it takes 570 grams of frozen milk, plus the select ingredients, curing for three weeks on a special shelf made by her husband from leftover wood in the barn, just to yield 20 bars. Creating inventory is another critical issue.Beyond the RIDDC business basics class, Cher values the encouragement others offered throughout the project and found particularly helpful the personal stories other entrepreneurs and the presenters shared. “I just sat, listened to other’s ideas, and wrote everything down. Then, we went out to the fields, and took beautiful cow pictures.” Even during Cher’s few moments to sit, she is committed to learning – this time about marketing her business. Those cows not only produce great milk and creamy soap products, they’re photogenic and make great shots to promote the products.

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3 Comments

  1. Brenda Butler on June 9, 2022 at 12:07 am

    Would love to purchase! When will it be in supply at Emma’s Acres?

  2. Pam Amaral on June 6, 2022 at 5:48 am

    Sounds great. I try to support local small businesses. I am very interested. Where are you located and what are the hours? Will I look forward to meeting you.

  3. Deborah Sargent on June 5, 2022 at 5:22 am

    I will be keeping an eye out for your soap.
    Hope I can try it soon…
    Keep up the great work…Love the cows!

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