Local teens open shop with soaps, lotions, and potions from dairy goats
–When brother and sister, Aiden and Emma Garrett, started making goat milk soap a few years ago to support their 4H projects, they had little idea their business would land them international sales and a new store. The new store, Oaks Ranch Mercantile, is holding the grand opening in Atascadero this Friday.
Five years ago, Aiden, 15, and Emma, 13, started handcrafting soaps and lotions with milk from their dairy goats. From sales to friends and family, the word soon spread and now the young team is distributing their products in California, and as far away as Maine, Australia, England, and Iceland.
Mathew Garret, the father of the young business team, said “The operation has grown so much, they needed to move production and fulfillment out of the house and rent a building. They are happy to announce the opening of their new space: Irish Oaks Ranch Mercantile. The mercantile will not only be a place where they produce and fulfill their products, but also a retail for other local producers.”
“We wanted to have a place to feature local makers,” said Melissa Garrett. “And, we want to help out other young entrepreneurs with development, packaging, and promotion. We’ve been helped out at so many points along our journey and we wanted to give back.” The family hopes to develop a series of agricultural-related and craft classes at the store for both children and adults.
Opening this retail store and educational incubator was fueled by the family’s own efforts and Aiden and Emma were involved in the process at every step. Aiden started his Aiden’s Goat Milk Soap venture in 2015 when he was 10-years old. Sister Emma launched her line of Farmgirl’s Lotions and Potions goat milk body care products and candles in 2018 when she was 11. Both are hands-on owners from milking the goats starting at 5 a.m. daily, to crafting the products, to packaging and shipping. They’re often helped out by their 10-year-old brother Owen.
“I like running my own business because it has taught me life skills of hard work and determination, as well as hands-on learning about manufacturing processes and salesmanship,” said Aiden. “It’s a lot of work but it is exciting to see our products shipped all over… and hearing back from those who buy it and how much they love it.”
Aiden said he is planning on going to college and becoming a parachute rescue jumper in the Air Force. Between operating the business, participating in Boy Scout activities, and water polo, Aiden keeps himself organized by making a daily list and checking things off as they are done.
Emma keeps a daily list, too so she can keep track of her day. She said her favorite activities along with making products and running the business are wrestling, art, and working with her animals. “My favorite part is meeting new people, sharing our products with them, seeing how much they love the lotions and candles, and explaining the process to them.” She said, “They are surprised that my brother and I make the product ourselves. I love making new scent combinations and take lots of pride in what I do.”
When asked what advice they have to help other young people realize their dreams and ambitions, Aiden said, “My advice to other kids is find something that you are passionate about because loving what you do makes it fun. It feels great to accomplish something you work so hard at.”
Emma said, “Try new things you never know what you will enjoy and be passionate about.”
The mercantile also features the wares of other young business owners, including Breadin’ Bros. chicken breading mix and carries quality San Luis Obispo County products, such as olive oil from The Groves on 41 (which the siblings use in making their soaps), Hambly Farms Millet bags and Handmade Vanilla, and Twisselman Trading Co. metal signs.
Matt and Melissa Garrett established their four-acre Atascadero ranch in 2012. Over the years, it has grown into a true family affair, with the Garrett children becoming enthusiastically involved in many aspects of the farm’s management. Not surprisingly, Aiden, Emma, and Owen also actively participate in local agricultural programs such as 4H and Future Farmers of America (FFA).
In 2012, the Garretts started their Irish Oaks Ranch meat Community Supported Agriculture program for pasture-raised beef, chicken, and pork. Subscribers to the program will be able to pick up their orders at the new store (retail sales will not be available). The Atascadero location will also be an outlet for the popular Green Mountain Grills products.
Irish Oaks Ranch Mercantile is located at 7425 El Camino Real in Atascadero, CA in the Plaza de Pueblo Center. Hours of operation are Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. The open house is Fri, March 5. For more information, visit the Irish Oaks Ranch website or call (805) 504-5663.