WALES, N.Y. -- Each Monday, we highlight a City Shaper - someone who is having a positive impact on Western New York. This week, 2 On Your Side's Kelly Dudzik introduces us to New York State's only producer of organic goat milk.
After working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for five years, Kerry Planck left that career to raise her kids.
"I traveled to the Erie County Fair when my children were really young, in diapers still, and we used to love to see the animals," says Planck. "We just had a fascination with goats."
In 2008, Kerry bought two goats at the fair, and what began as a hobby, turned into a new career and business venture.
"I tinkered with making skincare products with the milk, we drank the milk, I made my own cheese for the family, and here we are," she says.
Kerry applied for organic certification status in 2010, and when she got it in 2011, started selling her Alpine Made soaps at farmers’ markets.
There are 30 goats on the farm, and while she's lactating, each goat can produce about a gallon of milk a day. That milk is the soap's key ingredient.
"I'm more math and science oriented, so creating these recipes, even working with the accounting side of things came easy to me, but I had to find a team of specialists, mentors, in the business world, and that's where the Small Business Development Center out of Buff State came in and SCORE, our Buffalo Niagara SCORE chapter of retired entrepreneurs that devotes service to mentoring small business startups like myself," says Planck.
Alpine Made is in the middle of a big expansion. Kerry is in the process of selling her old certified organic farm because she just moved into a former church two doors down. It gives Alpine Made a lot more room to grow.
Kerry is also busy paying it forward when it comes to giving advice to future small business owners.
"I say you have to have a great idea, work with it, don't give up on it, but don't quit your day job for a while, try to do it part time, until you get to the point where you're creating enough revenue and security for yourself to quit your day job and then make that transition into your new career, into your dream," she says.
Kerry's hard work has paid off. She now has a line of 17 skincare products and more than 35 soaps, plus, she has a deal with Wegmans.
If there's someone you'd like to nominate to be a City Shaper, email Kelly.