Raising goats and making soap have become second nature for Joe Bremer. The 14-year-old Chicagoan-turned Danville resident launched his own soap-making business in 2010.
Joe’s Bars and Suds began after many visits to a soap store in Tarpon Springs, Fla., which had “10 by 10 walls” full of soap. Bremer says they used a ladder there to reach the highest shelves.
“He figured if someone else could do it, and they made soap in ancient times from goat milk and olive oil, he could make soap. too,” says Bremer’s mother, Jackie.
- Photo Gallery: YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR: Teen runs his own soap-making business
- Joe Bremer, 14, is the owner of Joe's Bars and Suds and markets "pure goat milk soap and other fine products." The merchandise can be found in several area stores and on Facebook.
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Bremer kept after his parents to let him have a goat when they were living in Chicago, but there wasn’t enough space to keep one. They also couldn’t find a place to buy goat milk.
When they relocated to Kentucky, he tried to convince them to let him get a horse, then a cow. Of both animals, his mom said they simply didn’t have enough land. Finally, he settled back on goats. This time, he got his wish.
He began showing goats when he was 11, through the help of organizations like the Boyle County Livestock Club and the Fort Harrod Goat Club.
As with his quest to get an animal, Bremer wanted to start making soap. He kept trying to convince his mom to let him and says “finally, I wore her down.”
They got a book, titled “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Making Natural Soaps,” and he began watching videos on YouTube.
He also joined the 4-H Means Business Club, which allows young entrepreneurs to bring their products to the meetings and use fellow members as a sounding board for ideas. In that club, he was able to develop his displays and his business.
“The format is great because it gives kids a chance to grow and learn and look at what other kids are doing,” his mom says.
She explains there are often guest lecturers and the group enables kids to have their products critiqued.
“The 4-H Means Business Club gives these kids a lot of opportunities they may not have if they were trying to build a business on their own,” she said.
When he was 14, Bremer and his mom went to Frankfort to register for his LLC. Because he was less than 18, he was unable to register as the business owner.
“I told them, ‘I am listed as the owner, but this is his business. He is Joe,’” Jackie says.
That visit to Frankfort is how he met the Kentucky Secretary of State, Alison Lundergran Grimes, who was so impressed by the youngster’s determination that she had to buy some of his soap.
Bremer still has the money she paid him, as well as a photo taken of the two of them, which he has framed.
Since then, he has started distributing his soaps to various stores in Boyle County.
Currently, Joe’s Bars and Suds products can be found in seven area stores: Maple Tree Gallery, Burkmann Feeds, The Medicine Shoppe, Sweet Suds and Tanning, Not Just Antiques, Muddy Creek Primitives and The Harvesters in Perryville.
According to Jackie, the local businesses have been willing to “give a kid a chance.”
The products also are available directly through Bremer, who usually sets up booths at local festivals; has a business email, email@example.com; and has created the Joe’s Bars and Suds Facebook page.