Acorn Hill

11 Apr

When friends gather to try a few new recipes, a business may not be the normal byproduct of their efforts.

For Mandy Holmes and Ashley Bausch, however, a business developed from their first experimental batch of soap — a simple recipe that transformed two mothers into the entrepreneurs behind the business “Made On Acorn Hill.”

The idea to make soap was the brainchild of Holmes and Bausch in 2010, when they gathered to think of creative Christmas gift ideas. Bausch had made soap before, so the two Tennessee women found some recipes online and summoned their homesteading skills.

“We bought the supplies, made the soap, split up the soap and gave it away as gifts,” Holmes says. “And by January, people started saying, ‘Hey, could I get some more of that soap?'”

In May 2011, the soap-making duo cured three batches of soap — roughly 180 bars — to test the market for their product. After two weeks and a mass email to their family and friends, each bar of soap had vanished.

“We put the money right back into the bank, and we made twice as much soap — six batches,” Holmes says. “We went to the farmer’s market and sent out another email for the 360 bars of soap we had, which we thought was a lot of soap. And it was gone in a week.”

Managing an unexpected business has its struggles, but Holmes and Bausch say Acorn Hill is an extension of who they are — two friends interested in natural products even before they considered creating their first bar of soap.

“I was already buying a natural first aid salve, and we were both trying to make things ourselves and do things ourselves,” Holmes says. “Everything in my house I want to be safe, especially stuff we put on our skin. We are committed to that in our personal lives, so that is just showing up in what we make.”

Bausch and Holmes only use natural ingredients, such as utilizing herbs for fragrance and color. They also buy local ingredients, including beeswax from Tennessee beekeepers. As a result, they say their products are fresh and pure.

“Every day you hear about a product that is not safe or that has been recalled,” Bausch explains. “People are becoming more aware of what is in their products, and they are leaning toward what is safe.”

A new business also can mean less time with family, though — an aspect of entrepreneurship the mothers are trying to manage.

The first year of Acorn Hill proved difficult, particularly during the 2011 Christmas season. The duo scrambled to keep up with the demands of their business while caring for the needs of their families.

Holmes says this year will be different, however, because she and Bausch began the year with the intentions to have a business, unlike the previous year. Because of their intentionality, they plan to better balance their time between spending time at work and with their families.

They also intend to manage their time more efficiently by outsourcing some of their jobs, such as sending labels to be printed at a local printing company. They invested in better equipment to quicken production time and to save money.

Besides time management, other changes occurred on Acorn Hill as well.

The friends originally called their business “Two Girls and a Goat,” describing themselves and the goat’s milk used in their soap. Once they considered making products beyond goat’s milk soap, though, Holmes and Bausch changed the business name to encompass the variety of products they wanted to offer. They took a part of the name of each of their street addresses to create the fictitious location known as Acorn Hill.

Holmes and Bausch also expect Acorn Hill’s future to include new products.

The duo said they are experimenting with an eczema salve and a body butter. They also hope to launch a new line of products specifically for infants and mothers.

“We have a set product line of things that we have made, and we know they work,” Bausch says. “But now we are re-launching our business in another way. We want to do new things while maintaining what we are already doing.”

As the women prepare for changes ahead, one aspect of Acorn Hill will certainly stay the same.

“Although we are branching out into different things, like the eczema salve, it is still going to be the same local Tennessee beeswax and raw shea butter,” Holmes promises. “We started with basic ingredients, and we’re committed to sticking with that.”

For more information about Acorn Hill, visit http://www.madeonacornhill.com.

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