An agritourism and online retail business based in Scottsburg is continuing its recovery from the major disruption caused by the pandemic. Goat Milk Stuff manufactures a variety of products using goat milk such as soaps and other bath and skin care products, as well as food products such as fudge, caramel and gelato. People can also visit the Goat Milk Stuff Farm to see how the operation works and visit the Baby Goat Experience, though owner PJ Jonas says the agritourism side of the business was completely shut down by the pandemic.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Jonas said the pandemic had a two-fold effect on the business.
“While it was wonderful to be a company that made soap during a pandemic, the pandemic pretty much destroyed our on-farm business, and so all of our food pretty much closed down completely,” Jonas said. “We’ve since reopened the on-farm, and we’re slowly building that back up. So, we’re having more visitors come and more tours, more Baby Goat Experiences. So it was kind of a tale of two businesses; the one dealing with online, which thrived, and the other one dealing with on-farm, which did not.”
Prior to the pandemic, the farm had about about 130 goats that were producing milk. But because they now had a surplus of milk for which they had no use, the company decided to sell many of its goats.
“It was really a matter of cutting costs, figuring out how to streamline and get down so we were just focusing on the core of what was really wanted during the pandemic, which was the goat milk soap. So, in many ways, it made that aspect of our business a lot more efficient, and it made us make decisions that were overall better for the business. [There were] a lot of painful decisions, but I think Goat Milk Stuff’s going to be much better for it coming out on the other side.”
In late 2015, Goat Milk Stuff received a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that it used to boost marketing efforts as well as support packaging for its candy products.
Jonas says coming out of the pandemic has been challenging as the company works to build the infrastructure back up to produce the same amount of items it was making pre-pandemic.
The company currently has about 30 goats that are producing milk with more on the way. The company is also looking to add up to six employees to its current staff of 14.
But some tours and Baby Goat Experiences have resumed, including visits from various FFA groups during the recent National FFA Convention.
“It was fun to see people coming back and playing with the baby goats and getting the tours and doing all of that,” said Jonas. “So while [the pandemic] was a painful period, it’s brought a lot of joy back now as you see it coming back.”
Looking forward, Jonas says they are re-evaluating the operations of the business to create what she calls Goat Milk Stuff 2.0.
“When I started Goat Milk Stuff, my children really young; they were 1-10. Now, they’re 15-25. They’re getting married. They’re having their own kids. And so, Goat Milk Stuff 2.0 is something that is sustainable for all the children in their families and sustainable for customers who want to get regular delivery of their items. We’re really focusing on the internal structure and then putting in place the personnel who are going to just take these goals that we have and run with them.”
You can learn more about Goat Milk Stuff and the farm experience by clicking here.