One of the main reasons why we started this project was to make sure that other people knew about some of great people and businesses that we have discovered in our region. We appreciate good, quality products, especially when they are locally made and were excited to meet the folks behind the Alpine Made line of organic products. We don’t like a lot of chemicals and additives in the food we eat, or the skin care products that we use. Alpine Made’s mission clearly states: “Our mission at Alpine Made is to create awareness of the new paradigm that supports healthy, clean and sustainable living. We use our organic goat milk to create pure, alternative products that cleanse and moisturize the skin.” We met up with Kerry Beiter at her farm and even got to watch Amy Overfield bring some of their chemistry to life. We have a feeling that the greatness and quality of their products is purely an extension of the personality of these two ladies. As you can tell by reading their interview, it’s made with love and integrity. Enjoy.
Just yesterday, Alpine Made was named a 2016 Small Business Award Winner by Buffalo Niagara SCORE! We obviously aren’t the only ones that appreciate them!
How did you learn about soap making?
Kerry: “I did a lot of research on my own. I also went to school for biology and got a masters in biology/ecology. When I did my masters, I did a lot of work with aquatic plants, studying aquatic plant communities in the Adirondacks and the effects of acid rain over decades. Because I was studying acid rain effects on plants, I did a lot of acid based chemistry. That’s essentially what soap-making is.”
What came first, the soap or the Alpine goats?
Kerry: “The goats came first, actually. I used to work for the Department of Agriculture. Some of my background was working with Upstate New York dairy farmers and I worked for a while at the border, as an inspector. When I reached my early thirties, my husband and I decided to have kids. I was working so many hours I decided to quit that job and just stay home for a while. I was really into the idea of farming for a lifestyle. Even if it was just a hobby farm, where I would make my own food, cheese, raise some goats (we didn’t want cows because they are such large animals to contain). So, we started out with two goats in 2008. It just expanded from there. We never used anything synthetic or medications on the animals. I did everything organically. In 2009 I read about this grant program for farms that transition over to organic certification. The grant would pay for things like building fencing, putting in water systems, and solar panels. As soon as that happened, I knew I was going to be farming for a living. I had to show that it was a productive farm. We started growing the herd and now have 25 animals.”
“At this time of year, the goats are pregnant and aren’t producing milk. We use raw milk that we have frozen. It actually works better to use very cold milk when you’re making soap. When it’s in a frozen state, it makes the process a lot easier. We usually have one animal that we have making milk. We don’t breed her. That’s what we use for making the lotions. We get so much milk from the girls that sometimes we are able to give some of them a year off. That allows them to get healthy and rest.”
“Amy came on last year, and we’re hoping to bring on another full-timer this year. We just applied for Whole Foods that will hopefully be built in the Northtown Plaza. We had the opportunity to join Wegman’s, but our labels weren’t store-ready. They needed UPC coding, the ingredients needed to match what the FDA requires you to display and we just didn’t have the time to do that at the time. Building the business is slow. You don’t want to hire too quickly or too much, or expand the space too much too quickly. You have to weigh the growth with your abilities.”
Amy, tell us a little about you
“Plus, we got along. I really liked her. I covered a farmers market for her one Saturday and it was amazing. I learned so much about the soap just from being in proximity at other markets and listening to Kerry talk about it. Like for instance, the real thing that sets our soap apart is the amount of milk in it. The industry average is 10% milk per bar. Ours is 38%. That’s because we all of this beautiful milk available, that we don’t have to put any water in it. I started using the soap and loved it. I did a 40 days of home-study blog and Kerry started to follow it, and she was just starting to add lotions and potions to her product line. I started working one day a week, putting our heads together on some of the products and we got some pretty cool potions out of that.”
Are your products organic?
Kerry: “Everything’s natural, but we aren’t necessarily organic in every product we make. We have a couple of certified organic products. Our milk is certified organic, and we include it in high concentrations in everything we make. The key though is that we are natural in every product we make. Our lotions and potions will have scents, but it’s natural, it comes from plant oils, known as essential oils.”
Amy: “Almost anybody can put together a lotion using a chemical emulsifier. We found that there is one natural emulsifier on this planet and it’s a combination of beeswax and borax. What it does is it allows the milk and oils to come together without using any chemicals at all. Borax is a natural salt – people use it in their laundry. You wouldn’t want to eat it, but a tiny bit helps bring everything together beautifully, and naturally.”
“We have a very popular colostrum serum. Colostrum is that first mother’s milk. We are getting some awesome reviews of that product. We have a customer that comes to one of our markets who used our colostrum serum for two months and was all excited about how much better she looked. We have had people that told us that their age spots disappeared. We also have a chiropractor in North Carolina that carries our colostrum serum. She was using it on one of her patients who is a child with severe burns. She was having the patient use it prior to laser treatment sessions to protect the patient’s skin. They found us online. We get orders from all of the country.”
This cute little kid was born the night before our interview!
Amy: “We a sign that says that “organic is non-GMO and more”. The magic is in that “and more” part. Building a small business, being so passionate and inspired about it, we don’t have to stop our lives to go to work. Our purpose runs through the vein of all of this. We feel so grateful and inspired every day. We scream with excitement every day about this stuff. We screamed about this interview! We believe in the product, and we love this lifestyle. We made really big changes in our lives to do this. I was a high-school guidance counselor, and really loved connecting with the kids, but that was about 2% of the job. I was forced to tell kids things that I didn’t necessarily believe myself. I just knew something was out of balance in my life and that I wanted to shift more into not having to stop my own belief and value system to make money. I figured that as long I have enough money to buy good food, what do I really need to be happy? Kerry and I share a lot of these similar values.”
Where can we get your products?
Amy: “We are up to 16 stores now, and we’re expanding to places like Ithaca. (Find a store near you) We’ve learned as we’ve grown where our target market is. We are our target market, so that helps. I went to a market at Turning Stone Casino and it didn’t work out. That wasn’t our target audience. What hit me was that I don’t go to casinos. I spend my money at farmers markets and Allentown. We go to these farmers markets and people walk by and smell our products and know that it’s natural and appreciate that.”
Any new products are you working on?
“We’re working on a spray-on, and roll-on solid natural deodorant. There aren’t a lot of them out there, and not many of them work very well.”
What would you tell a younger version of yourself?
Amy: “You’re doing just fine, girl. Keep going. Don’t worry. Do what you love. Our company is going to grow, but our recipes are important to us. We can only take small steps because we want to keep the integrity intact.”
Kerry: “I would say, just relax. If I started this in my twenties, we might be all over the country. But, I’m who I am now because of the mistakes that I made throughout my entire twenties and thirties. I made a lot of mistakes, and I’m grateful for them now.”
- Cathy Cimperman from 42 North Brewing Co
- Max & Trystan from First Light Farm & Creamery