Fragranced goat-milk soap bars.
Candy Akers displayed this product Sunday at one of 60 total vendor stands at the Sami Show, a multicity arts and crafts fair that stopped this weekend at Bell County Expo Center in Belton.
Akers has made the soap on her Lampasas farm for about three years, after her mother, Ruth Carmouche, urged her to find a remedy for her skin condition, Akers said.
“She said, ‘Let’s make some soap,’ and badgered me to no end,” Akers said. After the first batch, Carmouche’s irritation “cleared right up.”
Friends tested it and got hooked.
“We started selling it, and that’s just how it grew,” she said. “Within a year, I started a limited liability company.”
Akers owns Oak Hill Soap LLC, which pulls in 75 percent more revenue than it did in 2011, when it debuted at Belton Sami Shows, she said. The company was projected to earn about $600-$800 on the weekend.
“We hope for her to be successful, but we don’t want to lose her,” said Sami Show organizer Sammie Dwyer. “That happens. Sometimes, (vendors) grow so big and successful, they don’t do the shows anymore.”
Ruth Carmouche and Akers’ father, Peter Carmouche, inspired and boosted Oak Hill Soap’s success, Akers said.
“My dad built wood molds for the soap to age, and he customized a trailer for me to move the soap,” she said. “This is a family business. I’m just the one who markets it, makes it and raises the goats.”
With the help of Great Pyrenees livestock dogs, Akers raises 13 dairy goats on a three-pasture, 25-acre farm.
She milks the goats, freezes the liquid, adding mango, nut fat, vitamin E, and colloidal oatmeal — for baths, not breakfast. To convert the liquid to soap, Akers then adds lye, a solidifying solution. She said the soap is perfectly aged after two weeks, at which point Ruth Carmouche cuts and wraps it.
Selling soap is “no longer a hobby, it’s a full-time job,” for Akers, who retired last week from her Fort Hood budget officer job of 28 years.
Akers is doing about double the Sami Shows she did in 2011 — planning for 15 in 2013 — and said her show sales exceed her online and wholesales, which have “started rather slow” in boutiques and a hardware store in Lampasas.