Maker of the Month: Mountain Ridge Farm

Carolina of Mountain Ridge Farm quit her job as a school teacher to become a stay-at-home mom, and started making soap to supplement her income. Today, Carolina uses beeswax and honey from her family’s farm to create soap, balms, and more. Meet Carolina!

How long have you been making soap and what led you to start your own business?
I started making soaps seven years ago. After having my first baby, my husband and I decided that being a stay-at-home mom was the best option for our family. I was previously a school teacher, and had always worked in my adult life.  

During that time, my father- in-law had recently turned his hobby of beekeeping into a successful side business. Despite having a full time job as a computer engineer, his free time was always spent taking care of his bees. Besides just selling honey, he also made products with his honey and beeswax.

He knew I was struggling with the idea of having to go back to work and putting my kids in a daycare so he offered to teach me how to make soaps and other bath and body products. It was a job I could do with the kids at home and make some money on the side selling at local markets and at craft shows. I didn’t know then how much I would come to love it!

Where do you find inspiration for your soap designs?
I have always loved art and design. I get inspired by looking at art, home design books, decor magazines, and browsing Pinterest. There are so many beautiful color palettes on Pinterest. They have inspired a few of my layered soaps.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?
To me the whole process is fun. I enjoy the skill it takes to design my soaps and love to see the finished product when I cut into them. If I had to pick a favorite part it would be actually pouring the soap and creating the designs. 

That doesn’t mean it’s always easy and you don’t encounter bumps in the road, but that’s what makes it fun too. Sometimes very similar ingredients can react very differently in the soap making process! The challenge is being able to adapt when things don’t go according to plan like when I am using a new technique or fragrance. 

A key part of Mountain Ridge Farm’s mission is promoting the importance of honey bees. How does beekeeping play a role in your business? 
My father-in-law and husband are both beekeepers. We have around 200 beehives in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I use their honey to make soaps and lotions and I use beeswax to make lip balms and candles. 

Bees are essential for our lives. Without bees the variety of food available would diminish, and various species of plants would be completely wiped out. I love making my products but also spreading the word about the importance of bees for our planet. 

What has been your biggest challenge to navigate as a small business owner? 
When I first started my business, I faced many challenges because everything was new to me. I was a school teacher so I had no idea how to run a business. It took me a long time to learn and I am still continuously learning.

The biggest challenge as a small business owner has been finding new customers without being a household name. I have worked extensively to build relationships with my customers as I feel word of mouth is the best advertising! I also have a strong presence on social media and try to market my business to as many people as possible, not just the community who live around me. 

What advice would you give to makers looking to start their own business from home?
Be patient. It takes a long time to get loyal customers and make a profit. Preferably start it as side business to your main job that pays your bills. Utilize all available resources on the internet and research how to properly market your products. Most importantly follow and interact with other soap makers. You can learn a great deal from them. 

How do you balance soapmaking with running an online business and family farm?
It’s not easy but I make it work because I love what I do. When my kids were little, I used to start working after I put them in bed. I would work very late and sleep very little which I do not recommend! 

It has been easier these past few years since they are both in school now. I use the time they are in school to work on my business. As my kids got older they turned into great helpers so that helps too. Whether it be helping box my soaps or collecting the chicken eggs from the coup they are always willing to lend a hand. 

I am also lucky to have a supportive husband and in-laws. They have been there for me all of these years helping with craft shows, taking care of the kids when I am busy making products, packaging and delivering orders, and many other things. I am from Chile and do not have any family in the USA, so I couldn’t have done it without their support. 

What other makers do you admire, and what do you like about their work?
I love La Fille de la Mer. She makes so many beautiful products and in such large batches! She also has a gorgeous store front and rocks on social media! 

I also really like I Dream In Soap. I follow her YouTube channel. She shares step by step videos of how she makes her beautiful soaps. Her videos always look so professional!

I also admire Good Vibes Soaps. I love their use of color and designs. They use some amazing techniques to make some really unique products. 

What are your dreams for Mountain Ridge Farm? Where would you like to see your business in 5 or 10 years?
I just accomplished one of my dreams this past week. I opened my little store front! I bought a small shed last year and had my husband fix it up for me. I am so happy with how it turned out. I had a very successful opening weekend and I couldn’t be more happy and thankful for those who supported me. 

In the future, I see myself owning a bigger store where I can have both my studio and a store front. I would love to teach soap making to small groups. 

What are three of your must-have Bramble Berry products?
Oatmeal Milk and Honey Fragrance Oil
It is such a wonderful and mild scent. I use it in my soaps, lotions, and scrubs. Customers love it!

Micas - specifically Queen's Purple Mica, Aqua Pearl Mica & Kermit Green Mica
Other soap makers ask me on social media how can I get such a bright and pretty colors in my soaps. I always recommend your colorants. 

6 Cavity Beehive Silicone Mold
The quality is amazing!  I have had some of them since I started my business seven years ago and they still look brand new. 

Find Mountain Ridge Farm


DIY Bath Bomb Kits