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Even Melinda Cusack’s goats take pride in the soap products she makes with their milk.

The goats on Melinda Cusack’s three-acre homestead contribute much more than dairy products to her household. She also makes a whole line of soap and bath products, called Lulu’s Country Suds, from the milk of those same goats.

“I didn’t plan on having a soap business, I just wanted my family to have safe products,” Melinda said. But when visitors came to her home, she said, they’d ask what smelled so good. “When I’d tell them, they’d ask to have some,” she said.

Who could resist a bar of soap that looked and smelled like a mouthwatering piece of cafe mocha dessert or a lime in the coconut cocktail, after all?

“She’s not a slab bar-cutter,” Joe Cusack said of his soap-making wife. “She’s an artist.”

Melinda is very creative and uses only natural ingredients in her soap and bath products, which leave the skin soft and supple after use, she said. Everything that goes on the skin is ultimately absorbed and enters the bloodstream, she said, so no harmful chemicals are used.

“I’ve done a lot of research on soap products,” Melinda said. “Most soaps you buy at the grocery store are just compressed cubes of chemicals.”

In most cases, she said, “You can’t even find anything on the label that says ‘soap.’”

Do homemade soaps cost more than the store-bought varieties?

Absolutely. But because they don’t dry out or strip all the good oils from the skin, Melinda said, people save money on all the lotions and other skin care products they buy to undo the damage their soap has done. Plus, she said, by buying homemade products, people are helping the owners of small businesses make a living for their families.

Melinda said she named her soap business Lulu Fay’s Country Suds because “Lulu Fay was my childhood nickname and I’m a country girl, heart and soul.”

All Lulu Fay’s products are homemade in small batches using natural ingredients, including olive, coconut, palm and castor oils and shea butter. She adds aromatic essential oils to fresh goat’s milk to produce the scents of her soaps, bath bombs, bath salts, sugar scrubs, shower steamers, salves, balms and lotions, according to her website.

In the future, Melinda said she would like to acquire more acreage and grow enough organic produce to share with other families. She said she also plans to expand both her goat herd and soap business. Now that her first dream has come true, she has a new vision: “I would like to see my soap on store shelves, that’s my goal,” she said.

Until then, Melinda Cusack’s products can be viewed and purchased online at www.cherokeewinds.org. They can also be seen, held and smelled at her farm by calling 815-257-4444 for an appointment.