Greatest Of All Time? Couple's Goat Haute Soap in the running

Nov. 24—Tracy Houpt had some dairy goats and even after making cheese from their milk, found that she still had a lot of their milk left over. In order to prevent it from going to waste, she decided to try her hand at soap making.

"I thought it might be kind of neat, just a way to use extra milk," she said.

After trying her hand at three batches of soap, she recalled, "I went to Baesler's and said, 'Would you like to sell a local soap?' That took guts."

And it paid off. In addition to Baesler's, Houpt's Goat Haute Soap is available at reTHink's zero-waste store, Merle Norman Day Spa, Petals at Flannel Rose Boutique and Ditzler Orchard in Rosedale. She's at the point where if she had any more clients, her business would have to expand exponentially beyond her kitchen, where she now makes her products.

"I can't handle many more retailers because I'd have to go bigger — I'd need a facility and employees," she said. Success is a nice problem to have.

Houpt and her husband Lowell, a nuclear medicine technologist in Danville, Indiana, both grew up in Spencer. They received money from an inheritance and came across a farm for sale just north of Seelyville. When they went to look at the property, before they even set foot in the place, Tracy asked Lowell if they could make an offer, and he agreed.

She decided to populate the farm with dairy goats — currently, they have 10 of the Sable Saanen breed, a mix of goats with various color patterns (Sable) and white goats (Saanen), both heavy producers of milk. She took a class where she learned how to produce water-based soap, and then figured out on her own how to make soap with goat milk.

"I had to do some tweaking with the technique, because when you use milk, it's a little bit different," she said. "There's wiggle room that they say you don't have, but you can do it your way fine."

"I'm really proud of her that she figured it out," Lowell said, "because based on the high-school chemistry class we took together ..." He didn't finish his thought.

Tracy protested, "I did well!"

Conciliatorily, Lowell said, "You did well."

Tracy conceded, "Well, I did OK." She laughed.

Houpt has been making soap since 2015.

"We found that we really liked the product," Tracy said. "I don't use lotion as much as I used to — the milk has so many moisturizing properties that you can feel it doing the moisturizing. The very gentle pH of goat milk is very close to the pH of human skin."

Lowell added, "In the winter, my knuckles would just dry up. That doesn't happen anymore."

Tracy uses a number of molds to create her soaps; one of the most popular boasts relief images of goats. "I do have to replace those molds occasionally because they crack," she said.

Tabco helped her with the playful packaging — initially, she was doing drawings one-by-one by hand which proved to be a time-consuming enterprise. Tabco's graphics department modified her drawing and devised a way to tie tags to the bags the soaps come in. The tags feature photos of the goats, along with a brief biography.

"I like to write the little bios for the goats," she said. "I need to do new ones this summer."

To make the soap, Houpt mixes the goat milk with lye (which necessitates wearing eye protection during the procedure) and then mixes that with oils. In a process called saponification, the lye reacts to the oils to make soap. She puts the result in a blender to achieve emulsification, then pours the resulting product into molds. Soap takes four or five weeks to cure, so she stores her batches on her back porch and in a back room of her home.

"I'm not a soap artisan in the sense that I'm doing all these beautiful color swirls," she said. "I like the creamy, muted colors."

Houpt has not named any of her goats after GOATS — like Tom Brady or (take your pick) LeBron James or Michael Jordan.

Greatest Of All Time, she said, "just applies to my soap."

David Kronke can be reached at 812-231-4232 or at