How We Started
Jane's Rustic Ranch Soap. What a mouthful! How did she come up with a name like that? Well, I'll tell you. My name is Jane, and I live on a cattle ranch that's been in our family since the beginning of time. Well, ok, only since the 1860's, but it's certainly been since the beginning of my time! Hence the rustic part. There is a fair amount of rust around the place. And, you guessed it, I make soap! No mystery at all.
It's My Mother's Fault Really
Way to long ago to remember (ok, I don't want to remember), my mother made soap the old fashioned way using lye and rendered down beef fat. I remember the old iron caldron she used to mix it in, though now that I know more (iron and lye not being friendly like), she was probably rendering the fat in it and making the actual soap in something else less exotic. She made a hard white bar that we used for everything: bathing, though sometimes it took the skin off as well as the dirt, shredded soap became laundry detergent, and gelled soap became dish soap!
I remember thinking it would be fun to make soap, but I wanted to make pretty soap. Well, all the recipes I found called for very exotic ingredients that I had no idea what they were much less where to find them (no internet then-I guess that might date me a bit), so the idea was filed and forgotten until I ended up in a soap shop some years later with a friend who was making Melt and Pour soap. Chatting with the owner ended with my buying a great little book by Sandy Maine, "The Soap Book," a pound of sodium hydroxide (lye), a gallon jug of coconut oil (one of those exotic ingredients), lavender essential oil, and lavender dye chips. I was told to go to the grocery store for the other exotic ingredients: Crisco shortening and olive oil (not virgin). Those were my first soaps, and the rest, so they say, is history!
When I finally started making soap (about 15+ years now), I had the cleanest family and friends around. No one was safe! Holidays, birthdays, you name it, they got soap. Then about 3 or 4 years down the road (there goes that time thing again) a neighbor of mine opened a small plant nursery, Grammie's Garden, with a gift shop. Some of you might still remember it! Anyway, she invited me to sell my soap there. Really, make money instead of just spend money! What a concept! It was great while it lasted, but timing, economy, and distance from town put an end to the nursery, and now, having had a taste of the big money (insert LOL), I had to figure out how to go the next step on my own.
Once again, no one was safe! Fellow gym members, Weight Watcher members, "friends, neighbors, and countrymen or women and city-men or women (equal opportunity and all)," were given samples and brochures. A website was started, and I discovered all the joys and tribulations of retail marketing: Farmer's Markets, Vendor Events, Craft Fairs, and Home Soap Parties! Even wholesale in a few stores as well. And here you find me now, some 10 years down the road. Always looking for new outlets and opportunities, fragrances, recipes, and friends! I have made a great many of those, friends, over the years!
My husband and I still run the cattle ranch, and when I'm not making soap or ranching, you can find me in my beautiful Rustic Garden. And, yes, there's rust there too! Check out our Ranch and Garden page for some wonderful pictures of our Rustic Ranch
Finally, I want to thank my sister, Claire Stammerjohan, without whom I'd never have had the pictures I saw in my mind for this site. Not to mention the time helping me get this site up and running. She too carried around a bottle of wine and bag of cookies while coaching this site into existence! This watercolor, and our Barrel Logo are her work. We may not have used them quite as planned, but they are surely a reflection of who we are here on the ranch. Also thank you to my grandson, Junior, and Suds, the cow.