TOANO, Va. – About 20 goats can be seen running across Maureen Anderson’s small family farm in Toano.
“This is Liesl,” she said. “We kind of have a ‘The Sound of Music’ theme going.”
The goats are the lifeblood of her small business, Tasha’s Own Goat's Milk Soap.
“It’s the gold, liquid gold that goes into the soap,” Anderson said.
Their milk makes up about 30 different kinds of hand-crafted soap. Each bar is infused with essential oils. All the soap is made right out of Anderson’s kitchen.
“Sandalwood, rosemary, Teatree, coconut, charcoal, raw oats and honey,” said Anderson.
The 20-year-old business was just hitting its stride when the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March.
“Business was really bad,” Anderson said. “There was no business basically.”
Tasha’s Own flatlined after farmers markets and stores where Anderson sold her products at temporarily closed.
“When you have a dream and you have your life, I always used to wonder, when is the other shoe going to drop,” she said.
Anderson had to resort to selling some of her goats and chickens to stay afloat.
Then, she took matters into her own hands and set up her own farmers market out of her driveway.
“It was a way of saying we may have stumbled but we haven’t fallen down,” Anderson said. “We’re going to keep going.”
Business at the Toano Open Air Market started off shaky, but it slowly picked up steam. The farmers market grew from only a handful of customers and vendors several months ago to more than a dozen vendors and multiple customers.
Anderson’s open air market reopened for the season on Saturday. Opening day was filled with music, food trucks and pony rides.
Anderson said business is doing well, crediting her loyal customers and community support.
“There’s definitely struggles,” she said. “There’s still not the same flow of income there was before because there’s still fear. People are not quite sure whether to come to a market or not.”
She’s, however hopeful things will soon turn around.
Meantime, Anderson said she’s committed to growing her new business while selling her goat milk soap, something she says is not only in her blood but in her heart.
“I see us maintaining this market for a good while,” she said. “I think we’re going to get it well established. I always say it’s a baby I gave birth to and I can’t really leave.”
Toano Open Air Market, located at 7849 Church Ln. in Toano, is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.