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‘As homegrown as you can get’: Rustic Edge Soaps grows a local following

Rachel Mowery has created a line of soaps, lotions and other products in her home-based business, Rustic Edge Soaps. They’re made with goats’ milk. Photo by Susan Shinn Turner, for the Salisbury Post.

By Susan Shinn Turner
For the Salisbury Post

ROCKWELL — When Rachel Mowery’s son was an infant, the nursing mom soon discovered he was allergic to cow’s milk. So she switched to goat’s milk, but didn’t like the taste of what she found in stores. So she bought a couple of goats. Problem solved.

And then she bought a couple more goats …

Eventually Rachel amassed a herd of nine females and two males. Which presented another challenge: What was she gonna do with all that milk?

Rustic Edge Soaps was born.

Her herd of Nubian dairy goats munches contentedly on grass on a 5-acre pasture. She supplements their diet with hay and grain. For now, Rachel works in her kitchen — the window overlooks the pasture. She uses fair trade oils and butters. Some are organic and some are not. Her ingredients include rice bran, olive oil, coconut oil, shea butter, avocado oil, castor oil, and sweet almond oil. And of course, raw frozen goat milk.

Rachel started making soap, she says, and simply fell in love with it. She started giving it to friends and family, and her church family at Grace Bible Church. Before long, she realized she had a business.

A friend suggested the name “Rustic Edge” because of her rustic-looking soaps. That’s also the name of her herd.

“I’m a rustic person,” Rachel admits. “I love the country.”

She added lotions at the end of 2015, the year she founded her business. At the time, she worked for Dr. Corrie Connolly, a local veterinarian, and everyone in the office constantly washed their hands. The lotion was a big hit there.

Rachel has also developed a shampoo bar, and is in the process of testing a conditioner. She’s also making products that do not contain coconut oil.

She offers sugar scrubs, and she’s in the process of testing lip balm, and developing a men’s grooming line which will feature beard balm and oil and shave soap. She also wants to make a mechanic’s soap with pumice and …

She’s got lots of product possibilities in mind.

“I never thought I was creative,” Rachel admits, “but I’m always thinking of new ideas.”

Locally, her products are available at Homestead Farm & Garden in Rockwell, L.L. Goodnight & Sons in China Grove, West Rowan Farm, Home, and Garden in Mount Ulla, HTC Sports and Design off Sherrills Ford Road, and Happy Roots Artists Collective beside Mean Mug Coffee Co. She also ships products to N.C. Mountain Made in Franklin, and you can also order at rusticedgesoaps.com, or find her on Facebook and Etsy.

Corrie, who’s in private practice in Mount Ulla now, chuckles at the fact she was called the “official tester” for Rustic Edge.

“We do wash our hands over and over all day,” she says. “To me, her products are as good as commercial lotions or soaps. I usually buy a batch for Christmas presents, and we’ve given soaps out at the Farmers Appreciation Breakfast.

“It’s a good product and about as homegrown as you can get.”

Elsie Bennett, who owns West Rowan Farm, Home, and Garden with husband Brian, says her customers appreciate local products, and that she’s looking to expand her local products for fall and the Christmas season. Rachel will be a vendor at the store’s fall festival on Oct. 27.

“She’s just a sweet young lady,” Elsie says of Rachel. “She really works hard to get her product out. Everybody has been really pleased with her products.”

That also includes customers and employees of Homestead Farm and Garden in Rockwell.

“It’s awesome,” says Anna Damron, manager. “I have used Oil of Olay all my life, and I would not go back.”

Adam Wilcox, assistant manager, uses the acne detox bar.

“I’ve been using it for about a month now,” he says. “It works really good, and I thoroughly enjoy using it.”

Rachel plans to keep growing her business, and eventually wants to build a studio next to her home. Keeping the herd safe at all times is Cassie, a Great Pyrenees mix who protects the girls from coyotes. Keeping Rachel company indoors is Chico, a long-haired Chihuahua.

Rachel still works one day a week in a vet’s office, but her goal is to work at home so she can stay home with her children, Josiah, 5, and Grace, 2. Her mom lives just down the road and watches the children while Rachel works in the kitchen.

Many of her products have been by customer request, and she also makes custom orders for weddings, for example. At the moment, she offers 10 soaps, two specialty soaps and nine lotions.

From age 6 to 16, Rachel lived in Mexico with her parents, Darryl and Rose Bolden, who were missionaries. The Gaurijio tribe there made soap. Rachel, 30, graduated from Gray Stone Day School, and went to Rowan-Cabarrus Community College for two years. She’s taken soap courses online to learn more.

When creating her soap, Rachel combines the oils and melts the coconut oil and shea butter, then adds lye. She blends the mixture to a pudding consistency, and pours into 21-inch wooden molds her dad made for her. The soap sits in the mold for about 48 hours, and then she cuts it and cures it for about six weeks. Each batch makes 66 bars. She makes two to three batches a day a few mornings each week. She makes deliveries about once a month. The rest of the time, she’s calling on potential customers and dropping off samples, doing paperwork and updating the website and other social media. Another goal, she says, is to hire her dad so he can retire from his job and do all the paperwork for her.

Rachel was a vendor at the Earth Day Jam and is set to attend Autumn Jubilee. Her busiest time of year, she says, is at Christmas. She’ll have gift sets available then.

Her business has grown every year for the past three years. Her most popular scents in soap are lavender eclipse and peppermint eucalyptus for ladies, and cedar amber and oatmeal honey for the guys. Everyone seems to like coconut lemongrass and coconut vanilla.

She may love the soaps, but she loves her goats more.

“They’re just like big, sweet puppy dogs,” Rachel says.

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