Bend, Oregon – Dwight Johnson and his six boys load up on a quad in the cool, crisp morning air with silver pails in hand. The whole bunch heads out to milk their small herd of Nubian goats. Dwight quietly tells the boys what to do and before long the oldest boys, Burnell (age 9) Orin (8) and Chance (7) have the goats loaded up and begin milking.
Meanwhile, the younger boys are busy bringing out their homegrown hay to feed the goats. The fresh, creamy goat milk is not only a health food staple in the Johnson home, it is also the magical ingredient in Bend Soap Company’s all natural goat milk soaps.
How did Dwight, a self-proclaimed “redneck,” get into soap-making?
It all started with his son Chance.
A few years ago, Dwight and his wife, Marilee, started noticing dry, “angry” patches of skin on Chance’s legs. As those patches of skin got dryer and angrier they slowly began to dominate Chance’s life. He couldn’t focus on schoolwork or even playing outside. While playing games with his brothers he’d often have to stop in the middle of the action to scratch his itching legs.
Sometimes he’d scratch them so much in his desperation to find relief that he would scratch until his legs began to bleed.
Dwight and Marilee tried everything they could think of to relieve their son’s suffering. Just think of having to watch your child be constantly plagued by an unseen terror. If you’ve ever had an itch you can’t scratch, just multiply that helpless feeling by 100 and you’ll begin to understand what Chance was going through. They tried using different moisturizers and lotions on Chance’s legs but those would “sting” and “burn” as they went on. The few that brought a shadow of relief did so for only a short time.
Marilee tried altering Chance’s diet to address the possibility that his eczema may have been related to digestive issues but nothing seemed to help on that front either.
Throughout it all, Dwight constantly researched eczema and potential remedies and treatments. He noticed that “goat milk soap” was often mentioned as an all-natural means to relieve eczema symptoms. At the same time, Dwight was learning more and more about the dangers of chemicals found in everyday cosmetics and hygiene products.
So Dwight took a closer look at the soap he was using to wash his son and was amazed to see that it was composed of an alarming number of chemicals that have no right to be on the human body.
Dwight jokingly recalls, “I felt like I deserved the world’s worst father award. I was throwing 10-15 chemicals into my son’s bath and saying, “Hope you make it bro.””
He immediately banned that soap from the boys’ baths and resolved to try some goat milk soap which supposedly had helped so many others. The only problem was, he couldn’t find a bar of soap that was made without genetically modified ingredients, cheap fillers, or powdered goat milk. Even the expensive, boutique soap was full of junk. Since he already owned a bunch of goats, and had been using their milk for his family for years, he decided to make his own soap.
After tons of research Dwight crafted 2 batches of all natural soap using his own goat’s milk. The first batch contained only the goat’s milk, coconut oil, olive oil and palm oil and the second one had the moisturizing addition of real oats and raw honey. He wanted to make the purest most natural soap possible.
Chance began bathing with the new soap which was totally void of harsh, synthetic chemicals and was instead full of vitamins, minerals and enzymes from all natural food sources. Within a couple of weeks, Chance’s eczema cleared up! He uses the soap every time he bathes and the eczema hasn’t come back since first using the soap!
Not only was the soap extremely healing, it also had a great lather and creamy, luxurious feel. Dwight and Marilee were so excited about the soap that they began handing out bars to friends and family. Before long, everyone was asking for more and the word spread. Dwight began making more soap and Bend Soap Company was born.
In the 2 years since Bend Soap Company’s inception Dwight has added 4 employees and a variety of scented soaps including the refreshing eucalyptus spearmint soap, a lavender bar with real lavender buds, and even a licorice soap that smells just like the real deal. Depending on the time of year Bend Soap offers between 18-30 kinds of soap.
Also new to the lineup is 4 varieties of goat milk lotion made without chemicals or synthetic ingredients. Dwight’s future plans include the introduction of liquid goat milk soap and other hygiene and skincare products. According to Dwight, he wants to make effective, all-natural alternatives for, “pretty much anything that touches the skin.”