By Jamie Shafer
“You can still succeed in this country, working as a family and doing something you love,” encouraged P. J. Jonas. She had been praying for a family business for years, and in 2008 it began taking shape in the form of a bar of soap.
“With goats in the barn, an idea in our heads, and lots of hard work, what started out as one batch of goat milk soap has turned into a full range of soaps and related body care products that are natural and good for your skin,” said P. J.
P. J. began making soap for her family from goat milk and other natural products, concerned about the chemical ingredients that were present in most shampoos and bath products. Later P. J. and her husband, Jim, began sharing the products as gifts for friends and family. From there, it was on to a local apple festival, multiple craft fairs, and eventually an online business that now provides Goat Milk Stuff natural body care products to customers worldwide. The news of their family and products has spread to shows like The Doctors, Huckabee, and NBC’s Today show as well as O, The Oprah Magazine.
Although the couple noticed that the goat milk soaps helped to prevent the cracking in Jim’s hands, they were surprised at the positive response from their customers who were finding relief from skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Over time they have developed some devoted Goat Milk Stuff customers.
Beyond Jim and P. J., the Jonas family business includes the involvement of their eight children, ages 8 to 18. Brett, Indigo, Jade, Colter, Emery, Fletcher, Greyden, and Hewitt all spend a portion of their day either tending to the goats on their farm or actively engaged in some portion of the business that’s based in Scottsburg, Indiana. Each child receives a salary and works on tasks that align with his or her natural gifting and personalities.
P. J. noted, “There are so many facets to the business, from caring for the goats to manufacturing, sales, customer service, website work, and cooking.” In addition to their current line of soaps, lotions, lip balms, and bath bombs, the family will be launching a new line of food products this fall, including goat milk caramels, fudge, and cheese.
Working Hard, Meeting Needs
The family’s belief in the value of hard work is central in their slogan of “Work Hard. Get Dirty. Use Good Soap.” In all things, their heartfelt faith is also front and center. On their website they share their philosophy on parenting their children in the midst of running a family business:
• Everything is a God issue and a learning opportunity.
• Hard work builds character, which is an essential ingredient to a successful life.
• Each of our children are unique individuals with unique strengths and weaknesses and are raised as individuals.
• The family unit is a team and we all are sometimes called to sacrifice for the team.
Jim shared, “Hard work is something God gave Adam in the garden, and it’s central to our lives as believers. Good, hard work is rewarding in itself.”
The family feels blessed to be able to spend time together, working hard and doing what they believe God has called them to do. Jim spoke about the complete integration of their lives. “For us, everything is tied together, business, school, and church.”
P. J. also acknowledged that although the path has not always been easy, God has been there every step of the way. As the business began growing in its early days, the couple knew that Jim would need to turn his full attention to the farm. At a family meeting, they shared the exciting news that their father would be working from their farm but that it would require sacrifice on everyone’s part. “Nothing else will test your faith like receiving that last paycheck,” remembered P. J. with a laugh.
“With every publicity and expansion, it’s been a really great testament for me to know that God’s got it. I can rest in him. Yes, I still need to do my part, but he will ultimately make it happen. Even if there are bumps and hiccups, I just need to do my part and be faithful.”
At GoatMilkStuff.com you can learn more about the Jonas family, their faith, business, and customers.
Jamie Shafer is a communications strategist for Fishhook Communications in Indianapolis, Indiana. She and her husband, Eric, have two children.