Thirteen years ago this month, Love+Leche (née Milk and Honey) was born, on Earth Day, April 21, 2005.
It all began with the goats.
Since Sprout wandered into my life when we were both kids (she literally wandered into our yard, a runaway goat), I have been smitten with goats. Smart as dogs, wily, troublesome, affectionate and loud . . . it turns out they give us some of the most nutritious and luxurious product around: goat milk!
From being a kid in the Southeast, to being a young mom in the Southwest, goats came back into my life, and with them, a top-bar beehive and an entrepreneurial vision inspired by the Santa Fe Farmers Market: to make something yummy with these valuable, nutritious, sensuous ingredients. Milk and Honey was born.
My lead product was our maple-colored, gentle-on-the-skin goat milk soaps, poured into beautiful molds I could buy from soap suppliers. But in those upper baskets, we sold our fledgling lotion bars, also poured into beautiful bee-inspired molds, and soon to be our lead product.
We kept bees and used their wax and honey in the soaps, but we partnered with Steve Wall (see a great pic of him here), of Buckin’ Bee Honey to supply the larger amounts of beeswax that we needed for our Lotion Bars.
And so we come to our present-day, now-13-year-old venture of Love+Leche.
We still make all our products in small batches by hand. All our soaps and lotions are now poured into custom, sculptor-designed molds that bring beauty to your life and your skin. We still make our goat milk soap using the milk from our own goats (we’re now part of a goat co-op, sharing the labor and the love), but it’s the lotion bars we’ve become famous for.
The gorgeous Nanny Goat (Taza!) that graces our logo takes us back to our roots and original inspiration for our business. Our Goat Milk Soaps carry on the goat milk product tradition.
But don’t look for goat milk in our lotion bars! They are all about the bees: those hard-working girls that give us miraculous beeswax to seal in the oils and moisture and heal our skin.
Follow these steps to beautiful, healthy, soft feet:
Step 1: Soak
Fill a basin or tub with warm water. Add 1/2 cup of epsom salts and a few drops of your favorite essential oils. Relax for 20 minutes while your feet soak.
Step 2: Scrub
Use our Goat Milk Soap to wash away dirt and grime with a loofah, scrub brush, or salt scrub.
Step 3: Exfoliate
Remove all the dead skin from your feet with a pumice stone. Don’t forget to remove any nail polish if you haven’t already.
Step 4: Trim
Shape your toenails by cutting them straight across and gently buff with a nail file.
Step 5: Moisturize
This is the most important step for getting rid of calluses and cracked heels. Use our Love+Leche Lotion Bar to massage your feet, being sure to rub some lotion into your cuticles and the tops of your feet.
To maintain your pedicure, make it an evening ritual to massage your feet at bedtime with our lotion bar and put on cotton socks to sleep in. This nightly habit will heal your cracks and keep your feet soft and gorgeous!
Our Lotion Bars come in an assortment of essential-oil scents, so you can match your lotion bar to your mood!
We love knitters (and crocheters, spinners, weavers and dyers!), and we wanted to make a lotion bar just for them. We knew that sheep–sweet ones–would delight us in making them, and would warm any wool-lovers’ heart. And we knew that our crafter and artist customers would appreciate the artisan quality of our design–as with the rest of our lotion bars, it needed to be a piece of art–for your skin.
This was not our first design. We went all the way through the process to a clay sculpture of another sheep–only to realize, in our heart-of-hearts, it wasn’t quite right. Didn’t quite tug on us. We weren’t in love with it. We researched many images of sheep–there are so many gorgeous ones!–but landed on this one as having the right composition to read on a small, palm-sized sculpture, and of course one with the right sentiment: sweetness. We added our signature sun rays–a nod to our New Mexico culture and the Virgin of Guadalupe who is ubiquitous here. And, we started working with a new sculptor. His detail and modeling just blew us away. We hope you fall in love with our Sweet Sheep as much as we have!
Now for a limited time, purchase our Sweet Sweet Lotion Bar and get our limited edition hand printed canvas bag with your lotion bar.
Great for hardworking hands, don’t forget to shop Mountain Goat lotion bars for your holiday gifts!
Photos by Simon Lee-Plunket
Santa Fe is an amazing place. I live right in town—and within three miles of TWO goat coops! I was part of one, and now I’ve switched to the other! It’s an amazing coincidence that my new coop is called “Miel Y Leche” (Honey & Milk).
Here is a pictorial tour of my new coop. The girls are quite a mix—the ones that look like they have no ears (this takes some getting used to) are called LaManchas. Then there are two brown goats that have Alpine heritage; and then the two youngest girls, one with airplane ears, and one with tiny-stunted ears—they are a blend of LaMancha and Nubians.
They are great milkers, and I get to share the responsibilities with 12 other coop members. And we still get enough milk for our household and for your soap!
Today we feature an interview with Heather Adle, owner of Knit Knorth a new yarn shop in Traverse City, MI. We were thrilled that she wanted to include Love+Leche products in her opening inventory! Here she talks about opening her store and becoming a small business owner.
How did you decide to open a yarn store?
I started knitting 15 years ago, and not long after that I knew that someday I wanted to own my yarn store. I’d always wanted to own a small business, and combining this dream with my new passion seemed natural. There are a few yarn stores in town, and after being a customer of one for a few years I approached the owner about coming to work for her. I worked at the store for five years which further fueled my dream to someday own a yarn shop myself.
I ended up leaving the store and returned to teaching elementary school until a few months ago. A great location downtown became available, I got some funding, and I made the quick decision to go for it. I’ve had the business plan and the name for a long time now, and it felt like I was just waiting for the right time!
What do you hope to bring to your local knitting community with your new store?
We’ll be carrying mostly yarn, and a little spinning fiber. I’ve been thoughtful in curating a variety of items that aren’t available in our area. As a small business owner myself it’s important to me to support other entrepreneurs, so I strive to support these other small companies and introduce our local community to all the wonderful indie dyers and other makers out there.
What has been the biggest hurdle in realizing your dream of owning a small business?
Making a break from what I had been doing. I became known in the community as the manager of another yarn store, so breaking that mold was uncomfortable. I had to ask myself, “Do I have the stomach to do what I really want to do?” I know it’s going to be a lot of work, and it has been a ton already just getting here. From deciding to start a yarn shop to our first day with doors open is just 6 weeks, so it’s been a mad rush to get everything done in time.
What are you looking forward to most after the doors open?
Putting customers in exceptional product! I love yarn, I love knitting, and I love helping people knit beautiful items.
What scares you the most about opening your store?
The big questions like, “Did I get it right?” You spend all this time creating a business plan, and you put a lot on the line. The business model in the past has been buy a ton of yarn, and then people will buy it. But the market is changing, so you have to be selective. Packing the store floor to ceiling with yarn that you can’t sell isn’t going to work. There’s product everywhere, so it’s important to really curate your offerings.
And of course, we have to ask, why did you choose to carry Love+Leche products in your store?
It’s a great product. It’s one that I use, and love, and that’s what I want to sell here in my store. I love the packaging. It’s clean, modern, and reusable. I’m allergic to synthetic perfumes, so it was important to get something that was natural. I like that it goes on easily, dries quickly. There are other similar products available, but the clean natural scents and the packaging make it a cut above the rest.
“Beekeeper Steve Wall, of Buckin’ Bee Honey here in Santa Fe, was one of my first collaborators. Before I was accepted to sell at the Santa Fe Farmers Market, I was working with Steve. He guided me as I kept my two beehives, and gave me business advice too. Unlike commercial beeswax, Steve’s wax is never bleached, and as he states below, his bees are not exposed to pesticides and other chemicals that would be absorbed right into your skin if they were in my products. Nope, this is the real, natural, golden stuff that smells just like sweet summer. Steve also makes beautiful beeswax candles. If you email him, he might be willing to ship some of his wares to you in the mail.” –Daven
Are you from New Mexico? Did you grow up on a farm?
I’m originally from Oklahoma (studied horticulture at Oklahoma State University) but started keeping bees in Texas. I actually was a city boy, but loved to dig in the dirt. I’ve been gardening since I was a little kid in Tulsa. Beekeeping, to me, just seemed to be a natural extension of horticulture. Both activities stem from a curiosity about the nature of things.
Can you tell us about your bees, your farm, and how you got started?
My bees are called Apis mellifera. They are not native to this continent, and were brought here by Europeans. They are the only species that has colonies of 50,000 or more. Each colony can produce up to 60 lbs. of honey in a year. Other species collect honey and pollinate plants, but no other species has colonies that large or produce that much honey.
I had a landscape company in Dallas and one of my clients had a bee hive in his yard. I asked him about it and he said “You want it?” I said yes, even though I knew next to nothing about bees. I studied like a mad man, joined a club, got a mentor, and expanded my holdings until I had two dozen hives. At that point we decided to move to New Mexico. So, I loaded up the bees and hauled them here. Today I keep around 100 hives in and around Santa Fe.
How do you feel about the declining bee population in the US?
The declining bee population worries me. Not so much for those of us who keep honey bees, but for all the native pollinators that no one is watching. Who knows how many native species are dwindling and dying out due to pesticides, urban sprawl, lack of forage, global warming, etc. To me they are the canary in the coal mine.
Do you sell your honey and beeswax to other New Mexico makers?
I do sell to other crafters, but they are a small fraction of what I sell to Daven. She’s my biggest wholesale client.
Is the honey that’s used in Love+Leche products different from the honey you would eat on your morning toast?
Much of the honey and wax you purchase at the store comes from large commercial operations that use miticides and antibiotics in their hives. These chemicals do end up in the final product. I use neither. So, yes, the wax and honey Daven puts in her products is cleaner than the wax and honey used in others’ products.
How many times a day do you get stung by bees?
I get stung at least once a day. Usually because I get careless. Often, however, I have to work without gloves (while catching queens or grafting larvae to raise new queens). It still hurts, but the reaction is minimal.
How do you use honey and beeswax in your daily life?
Honey is pretty much the only sweetener we use at our house. We don’t burn a lot of candles, but we do use a lot of beeswax lip balm.
If people are interested in purchasing your honey or beeswax, how would they reach you?
95% of my customers simply come to the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. The rest come by my house to pick up honey, etc. They call, tell me what they want, and I put it on the front porch. I can also be reached by email at email@example.com.
We’re passionate about natural soaps and lotion bars for keeping your skin feeling soft and hydrated. Our lotion bars can be used all over your body, not just on your hands. Furthermore, skin everywhere on your body can become dry, and dry skin can lead to damaged skin. It’s your first line of defense to the outside world and your largest organ, it’s important to make sure you’re taking good care of it!
Today we have our top 6 tips for making sure your skin stays baby soft.
#1 Get Enough Sleep
Your body uses that time to regenerate and recover from the daily stresses you put on it, getting plenty of sleep means giving your body time to heal itself.
#2 Wear Sunscreen
You know you need to wear sunscreen when you go into the sun, but wearing sunscreen on parts of your body that are exposed to sunlight on a daily basis is a good idea. This means not just your face, but also your neck, hands, and arms.
#3 Massage your lotion in
Massaging your lotion into your skin will stimulate blood flow.
#4 Stay Hydrated
Hydrate your skin from the inside out! Drink the recommended 6-8 glasses of water, if you feel thirsty you’re already dehydrated.
Remove dead skin by exfoliating regularly–you can use a brush, pumice stone, or a sugar scrub. Exfoliating regularly will keep your skin from looking dull.
#6 Eat Healthy Fats
Almonds are a great healthy snack that has benefits for your skin. It’s a great source of Omega-3s and vitamin E, two things that keep your skin cells plump and healthy. Other healthy fats include avocado, coconut oil and fish oil. Learn more by following our links.
Why would you choose a lotion bar over a liquid lotion to keep your skin hydrated?
Taking care of your skin not only keeps your skin healthy and glowing, but can become a beautiful ritual for nurturing yourself. For more great tips on taking care of your hands, visit the Drea Renee Knits Blog.
We are thrilled and proud to introduce our first limited edition Valentine’s Lotion Bar. This unique design created for us by local sculptor Stephanie Huerta, is uniquely inspired by New Mexican folk art tin heart milagros. An elegant and unique gift for all your valentines, it’ll last longer than a box of chocolates and help soothe skin that gets so dry during the winter. And for your sweetie, a massage with one of our lotion bars is a romantic treat!
Order a single Citrus-Rose or Lavender Bar, or our romantic Valentine’s Lotion Gift Bag with Anywhere Balm.
Valentine’s Lotion Gift Bag: already packaged and ready to give.