[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #DC943C;”] W [/dropcap]hen you climb into the bath with a goat’s milk soap made by Sharyn Carmichael, you will know whether you are lathering up with Charlee, or perhaps Tahli, because it says so right on the label.
It is this personalising of the product that says so much about how Sharyn, together with her husband Trevor, run their business – the goats always come first.
Sharyn has been breeding Anglo-Nubian goats for 30 years and began with a herd of just six animals that has since expanded into about 100 head that make up the Glenafton stud at Woorndoo, between Mortlake and Lake Bolac.
“I grew up in the Mallee and had severe asthma as a child where I nearly died a couple of times and once my parents had reached the limit of what traditional medicines could do, they bought a goat – ‘Nanny’ – to try goat’s milk, which reduces the inflammation of the throat,” Sharyn explains.
Goat’s milk helped to significantly reduce Sharyn’s asthma – and possibly even saved her life – so it is not surprising that she has always had enormous respect for the animal.
This respect, coupled with an interest in genetics and breeding, led her to start her own small stud of Anglo-Nubians: the breed with the gorgeous Roman noses and long, floppy ears that makes them look like they are wearing a winter hat with ear-flaps.
[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #DC943C;”] N [/dropcap]ot only are they very personable creatures, with distinct personalities, but Anglo-Nubian does are also known for their long, high-quality milk production.
Hence, if you were to visit Sharyn’s stud website, you will see a lot of robust, shaved udders that have drawn high praise – and awards – from the experts who judge such things.
The Glenafton herd also includes descendants of the first Anglo-Nubians that were imported to Australia 50 years ago, keeping an important lineage alive.
Sharyn’s goats have been sold around Australia and exported in limited numbers overseas to hand-picked clients, but in more recent years, Glenafton has moved into creating skincare products from the herd’s milk.
What started as an unexpected off-shoot has continued to grow to about 60 lines, including lotions, scrubs, lip balms and 30 different varieties of soap. The home-based business has been so successful, in fact, that Sharyn gave up her “day job” of working in a bank about 18 months ago to focus on Glenafton full time.
“I didn’t set out to get into skincare, to be honest, but when I was working in the bank, my hands really suffered from handling money all day – which is very dirty – and I was always washing them,” she said.
[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #DC943C;”] S [/dropcap]haryn made a lotion using her goat milk, which is rich in minerals and butterfat, and an entirely new career was born. She now spends her days creating her products and selling them to more than 30 outlets that have all come via word-of-mouth or customers who have met her on the market circuit in South-West Victoria.
Not only do many of her soaps have pet names on the label, her skincare products contain ingredients that are all sourced locally or through local farming connections. Even the lotion bottles are sourced – and made – in Melbourne, not overseas.
It is overseas, however, that is coming to Sharyn. She has recently been approached to consider exporting to Asia, but admits she is cautious about rushing into a much larger market.
“I am a very measured person and I need to do things slowly and carefully, so nothing will happen quickly, but if it does, I want to feel comfortable that I will be able to manage it here (on the farm) … the goats always come first,” she said.
[box] Sharyn Carmichael was recently nominated for a Telstra Business Award. (We hope she wins!) In the meantime, you can visit her website and find her at a range of markets around Port Fairy, Warrnambool and districts. You can also order direct via email@example.com[/box]
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