Visitors to Kathy Patterson’s home often wonder two things – how does a busy entrepreneur and mom keep her house so tidy? And what on earth smells so good? The first answer is probably that Kathy is a supermom with great organizational powers. The second answer is easy – the wonderful aroma is a blend of dozens of bath and body products, all made from goats’ milk.
Patterson’s Farm is a small operation in Reno that puts fresh produce and eggs on the family’s table. When Kathy decided to add wholesome milk to their pantry, goats were a natural choice. She explains that they didn’t have room for cows and “Goats are such friendly, sweet creatures, I knew that I could handle them based on their size.” After two goats took residence and Kathy began milking them, she soon realized they were producing more milk than her family could use.
She began making soap about two years ago, intending to use it just for her family. “It was more of a challenge to myself. I’m fascinated by homesteading life and self-sustainability, so I’m always attempting something new.” After she shared some of the soaps for gifts, family and friends urged her to start selling her products to others. The response was overwhelming, and Kathy’s first customers would make their purchases right from the barn.
Just months later, Kathy is creating soaps, body creams, balms and scrubs with delicious sounding scents like Vanilla Fig, Wedding Cake and Cherry Almond. She sells her products online, at Wit & Whimzy in Marietta, and the League Shop at Marietta Memorial. Some of her early supporters still pick up their orders at her home. The soaps are not just healthy and easy on sensitive skin, they are a feast for the eyes and nose. Kathy is constantly creating new designs with elaborate “embedded” features and additions like foam and a drinking straw on the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Wit & Whimzy carries several exclusive soaps, including “Whimzy” and “Marietta” complete with embedded anchor and ship’s wheel on top!
Asked what her favorite scent is, Kathy responded “It changes. That’s not a cop-out, but sometimes I love a new one and then I get kind of burnt out of it. I also tend to get a little ‘nose blind’ since I handle so many scents daily. My current favorite is a toss-up between Vanilla Fig and Santa’s Pipe. Santa’s Pipe reminds me of dad, who passed away 8 years ago. He smoked cigars, and Santa’s Pipe is a cherry tobacco scent.”
Kathy is a woman of faith, and a line of biblically themed soaps is a subtle expression of that faith. “I was inspired by a conversation with a customer and friend. We were chatting about how hard it can be to talk to people about our faith, even though that is what we have been called to do. Her idea was to print a bible verse on every label. I decided that many people would never read it, but if the entire soap bar was devoted to a different verse, it may plant a seed.” The line features soaps representing the first books of the Bible, starting with Genesis. Her interpretation and skill result in bars with amazing designs and of course wonderful scents.
It’s obvious Kathy loves what she does and has a gift for coming up with designs and scents that seem to sell out quickly. Soap making involves time, too – waiting for loaves to cure before they are sliced into bars. So when one scent sells out anxious customers have to wait for the next batch. Some designs are limited and Kathy will retire them or only offer them on a seasonal basis.
I don’t worry about the winter line, or profit margins, or shipping costs. I worry that my customers love their products and get exactly what they expect, every time.
Being a small business owner is difficult, and Kathy said the hardest part for her is making everyone happy. “It’s impossible but still at the top of my list. I don’t worry about the winter line, or profit margins, or shipping costs. I worry that my customers love their products and get exactly what they expect, every time.”
So what’s the best part? “Making soap. Hands down. Putting on my gear, hitting play on my playlist and creating. I would spend days in my lab and not even come out to eat if I could.” Luckily for her customers, Kathy is dedicated to her art and business, constantly designing and producing products that are gaining more fans by the week.
With so many ideas for new scents and products, Kathy joked that her 2020 business plan is keeping her up at night. And how does the young mom juggle home, kids and business? She laughs, “Wait…I’m supposed to juggle that!?!? ️ I have an incredibly supportive husband. After 20 years together, he knows when I need a break, when we need to order pizza or when I just need to make soap! My kids love the soap business, and they say they are going to take over one day. I hope they are right!”
For a first-hand look (and smell) of Patterson’s Farm products, stop into Wit & Whimzy this Thursday 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm for their Holiday Open House. Kathy will reveal some new holiday products that will likely disappear before long, and you’re guaranteed to fall in love with at least one scent. Many people remark that the soaps are too nice to use, but Kathy’s favorite motto is “Life is short, use the pretty soap!”