I first met Rachel and John at the Sustainable Midlands Holiday Celebration, where I picked up several bars of their Red Clay Soap for family's Christmas stockings. Not long after Christmas, the rave reviews started pouring in. Skin irritations had cleared up, chronic dry skin was no more. My whole family wanted to know: "Where did you get this soap? Where can I get more?"
Aside from the soap's almost magical skin benefits, my favorite thing about it is its wonderful fragrances. In varieties like Evergreen Twist, Oatmeal Honey and Spiced Coffee Cake, they are subtle, natural and pleasing. This month the Palacinos offered a Valentine's Day line of decadant soaps and are kicking off a new line of mini bars called Red Clay Kids.
I asked Rachel how Red Clay Soap came to be.
Q: How did you first start raising goats?
A: In 1998 we found out that John and Stephen [Rachel's husband and son] were allergic to cow milk. After exploring all soy and rice milk options, we learned of the benefits of goat milk and quickly learned to love goats!
Q: Where did the idea for Red Clay Soap come from?
A: We wanted to think of a name that went beyond the farm - come up with a recognizable brand. Being in the south, our house was built on red clay, so we thought this would be a great fit. The paradox is fun, too! When we're at shows, people pass and say, "Red Clay Soap? I thought red clay made you dirty!"
Q: What makes the soap so special?
A: The ingredients. We use fresh milk from our bucket to your bath. We do not dilute the milk with rainwater or distilled water. That means each bar is 25 percent goat milk, which is full of healing vitamins, minerals and alpha-hydroxy acids. Goat milk also has a pH closest to your skin, which means all of these goodies are easily absorbed through your skin. Nothing speaks louder than the testimonials we get!
Q: What is your favorite?
A: Wow... that's a hard one, because we just finished a Valentine line, and the chocolate and chocolate almond are simply decadent. Overall, I'd say you'll find me reaching for lemon mint or herbal wild.
Q: I know you live on a beautiful farm in the Upstate. Do you have any recommendations for visitors to the state who want to experience some of our natural beauty? Or do you have a favorite spot in the state that you like to visit or that means a lot to you?
A: Our farm is located at the base of Paris Mountain State Park. We've lived in this location for almost 20 years and couldn't think of a more beautiful place. If you're visiting Greenville, Paris Mountain is a wonderful retreat -- fewer than 20 minutes from downtown. It's an urban escape. We also love Jones Gap State Park just south of the North Carolina border. The rivers and waterfalls surrounding the park are simply breathtaking.