Business is growing quickly for Artondale Farm and its owners, Jess and Scott Hogan, who have a new wholesale agreement with Main & Vine grocery store.
The farm is now selling its specialty line of goat’s milk beauty products in the Nourished Living Center of the new grocery store.
Main & Vine representatives initially reached out to the Hogans to set up the agreement, much to the couple’s surprise.
“I don’t know how they got our info,” Jess, 35, said.
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Jess and Scott — who are regulars at the Gig Harbor Farmer’s Market held at Peninsula Gardens, where Jess is vice-chair on the Board — received an email just before Christmas from a Main & Vine representative.
At first they thought it was a scam, but they were surprised to find that the offer was genuine.
“It’s been quite the experience,” Jess said of the farm’s first wholesale agreement. “They’ve pretty much given us free rein (with our products). They trust us to know our customers. The only limit now is space. I could use more space!”
It’s been quite the experience...(Main & Vine have) pretty much given us free rein (with our products). They trust us to know our customers.
The beauty products made and sold by Jess are made with goat’s milk from her own recipes, which she developed to help treat the eczema on her hands. She started with lotion, researching oils that absorbed quickly into the skin and working to create a moisturizer that didn’t have a “slimy” feeling.
“I’m very picky about my lotion,” Jess said.
Soaps followed the lotion, with the newest beauty product — bath salts — developed specifically at Main & Vine’s request.
The goat’s milk comes powdered from a Bellingham farm to Artondale Farm — the milk being powdered helps balance the fat content — and the other ingredients in her products are all from Washington sources, she said.
The couple originally had their own goats, but decided to focus on expanding their vegetables and outsourcing the goat’s milk. Vegetables are what started the farm on it’s current path, beginning with a family garden started when their daughter was born.
The couple — high-school sweethearts who attended Gig Harbor High together — moved back three years ago from Oregon, moving to the 5-acre farm Scott inherited from his grandfather’s estate.
70 number of goat’s milk soap varieties that Artondale Farm offers
“We have deep roots in this town,” Jess said.
Initially, Scott and Jess worked as glass artists, selling their work at the Gig Harbor Farmer’s Market, and then began adding vegetables from the surplus of their family garden. The shift to vegetables from glass was gradual.
“Over the years we weren’t selling glass anymore,” Jess said.
The inclusion of her beauty products came at the request of the market manager in response to the inconsistencies of other vendors selling beauty products.
“I’m consistent,” she said. “I’m always there (at the market).”
The farm sells 70 different goat’s milk soaps, lotions, sugar scrubs and bath salts — all handmade by Jess.
“The weird names seem to sell really well,” Jess said of her soap, which have names ranging from the descriptive — like cucumber or lavender mint — to the downright kooky, such as Monkey Farts, Doodle Bug and Magic Potion.
Additionally, the farm also sells eggs — again, at the request of the market manager — from the 300 to 400 chickens they raise, with about 200 to 300 being “layers.”
Along with vegetables, the Hogans also sell plant starts for local gardeners interested in growing their own produce, an area of the business that Scott is focused on.
“This is the solstice batch (of starts),” Scott said of his current seedlings, growing under heat lamps inside the farm’s work area.
We’ve got so many plans and ideas and there’s only so many hours in a day and so much manpower...We just keep going.
The farm is pushing to start its seedlings earlier in order to have a longer harvest season for the Gig Harbor Farmer’s Market.
With so many different things going on at the farm, the Hogans aren’t slowing down at all but rather pushing ahead with more projects and merchandise for their customers. Future plans include applying for a cottage food license so they can sell jams, jellies and herb mixtures, including herb mixes and directions for “refrigerator pickles,” which were a popular sample at the farm stand last year.
Jess is also working to expand her line of beauty products — which the couple have been jokingly calling their “farm-aceuticals” — to include hair care, liquid soaps and herbal remedies.
“We’ve got so many plans and ideas and there’s only so many hours in a day and so much manpower,” Jess said. “We just keep going.”