Rock Bottom Soap Co. is one of many juried artisan businesses that will exhibit at The Market
“The quality and integrity of the Kentucky Crafted brand is on full display at The Market,” says Chris Cathers, Kentucky Arts Council executive director. “You’re getting work by many of the top visual and craft artists in Kentucky, and it’s all under one roof. Not only is it the best artwork in Kentucky, but it appeals to a diverse audience.”
This is the third year Rock Bottom Soap Co. artisan-owners Amy Henson and husband Wes McFadden will be exhibiting.
Henson says, “People attending this event know if you’re in the Kentucky Crafted program that you make a quality and uniquely Kentucky product. It increases brand awareness and I think that helps tremendously.”
They got into the business because of a love of horses and started farming with nothing, says Henson. When a mama horse did not have milk for a foal, a veterinarian suggested they get a goat.
“So, I thought, we will get a goat and figure it out.” But Henson wound up with too much and she couldn’t stand the thought of pouring out perfectly good milk.
“When nobody wanted the extra milk, my biology major and chemistry minor kicked in,” says Henson. That’s how the soap business was born.
“The first batch was great. The second batch was horrible.” Henson says after tinkering with many recipes, and her family and friends tired of trying out soaps, they settled on a recipe that everybody seemed to like. But that was just the beginning.
Rock Bottom Soap launched in 2011, and added a downtown London, Kentucky, storefront in 2012.
“We knew a little about farming, but we knew nothing about goats,” says Henson. “Wes hand milks, but I have a milk machine. I can’t milk fast enough. When a goat is finished eating, they are done! They are out of there.”
Henson says, “A good goat makes a gallon of milk a day, so we try to milk four to five goats at a time.”
Both Henson and husband, Wes, have full-time jobs. She’s an optometrist and he runs his own landscaping business, called Greatscape, based in London.
They began the business with three Nubian goats, and had as many as 40, but are now down to 20, which Henson says is much more manageable.
Their goats are more than just a business to them. Henson says they name all their goats, although sometimes when they are out in the field they do get confused which is which. “I love the long ears of Nubian goats. Baby goats are like puppies, they just love on you.”
Henson says she also loves making the soap, but she especially enjoys hearing people’s feedback. “It’s fun to do shows like The Market and to meet other artists that make their own cool things.”
Rock Botton Soap is both a Kentucky Proud and an Appalachian Proud member.
As a small, family-run farm, they try to do everything from start to finish: raise the goats, milk them, hand make the soap, and hand label and package all the products.
Henson says, “We try to keep it as local as possible. We have a local girl who does our graphic design and our soapboxes are made in Louisville.”
In 2018, Henson and her husband and three other full-time staff, and when times get tough “as many family and friends as I could wrangle,” says Amy, turned 2.5 tons of oil into 18,000 bars of soap.
Henson explains that everybody has their niche in the business, as it’s easier for one person to keep track of a single product. For example, “At the shop, Wes makes the sugar cube scrubs and the liquid soap,” she says.
Visitors to The Market can purchase one of Rock Bottom’s 40 scents of goat’s milk soap. There’s also lip balm, body polish, lip scrub, bath fizz, bath salt, wedding favor bars and much more.
When people ask why their product is different, she explains that it’s due to the chemical composition of the goat milk itself. “It has smaller fat globules and smaller protein size. The fat does not rise to the top, so it is distributed all the way through the milk and product. The soap provides good creaminess along with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for your skin.”
And, Henson adds, “Soap is the perfect gift. It smells good, it’s useful and it doesn’t collect dust.”
Arts Council arts marketing director Dave Blevins says, “We are confident we are showcasing some of the best artists in the state. If you believe not only in buying local, but buying quality handmade work, you need to be at this event.”
Hours run 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Sunday; tickets online $7, $8 at the door (children 15 and under free with adult admission); parking $5.