Nineties kids will recall the song “So Fresh and So Clean” by OutKast and its catchy chorus. That’s how Greg Kearney, 40, felt after using goat’s milk soap for the first time.
Although a Statesboro native, graduate of Statesboro High and Georgia Southern, Kearney has lived in Athens and on St. Simons at different times in his life, but six years ago, he made his way back to Statesboro and has called it home since.
It’s said that “idle hands are the devil’s playground” and out of idle time, Kearney founded his business, Homegrown Trading Post, right here in Statesboro. The one-man (and one-dog) operation specializes in goat’s milk soap, but has expanded into other products with others coming down the line.
After battling addiction, Kearney got sober in early 2016.
“I had developed some bad habits over the years and was finally able to make some necessary changes in my life with the help of the big man upstairs and some incredible people. One thing about getting clean and sober is that you have a lot of free time on your hands. I wasn’t going out and howling at the moon anymore so there was a lot of sitting around the house being bored,” he said.
He had purchased a bar of goat’s milk soap at a farmers market and liked how clean he felt after using it. Having naturally oily skin, Kearney felt that other soaps and body washes didn’t rinse off well enough and still left him feeling “slippery.”
“This soap left me so clean there was a literal squeaking sound when I would rinse. Squeaky clean! I decided to try my hand at making some via YouTube videos and researching online. That Christmas, I gave some bars of soap I had made as gifts for my family and the response was incredible,” he said.
While working a full-time job, Kearney continued to make soap in his free time and filled small orders for individuals here and there.
“It eventually grew until I had to go down to part-time with my ‘real job’ to keep up with demand. After about two to three years, I decided to take the plunge and go full-time with the soap business and it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made,” he said.
Due to living in the middle of Statesboro, Kearney isn’t able to get his goat’s milk from his own goats, but sources it from various places. His co-worker, Marley (a rescued border collie mix), probably would not take kindly to the addition of goats anyway.
Goat’s milk is beneficial in a number of ways and can be utilized to help and heal many skin issues.
“It’s high in fat which helps to moisturize your skin,” Kearney said. “A lot of folks that use our soap regularly don’t have to use as much moisturizing lotion as the soap does more than its share of the work in that department.”
Kearney says it also contains vitamins and minerals that can help to rejuvenate and maintain your skin. Mass-produced soap can be much more abrasive to the skin that the natural soaps that are free of chemicals.
Homegrown Trading Post currently offers 17 varieties of the goat’s milk soap and also has a line of CBD topicals.
“We have CBD cream, soap and CBD lip balms. CBD is basically a big fat anti-inflammatory and can be used for a number of conditions. Our CBD creams have offered pain relief to a number of folks who struggled with finding help even with strong pharmaceuticals. It’s been such a rewarding ingredient to work with and I wish more people knew of the many benefits of it. We also make an all-natural insect repellent, a beard oil, and Marley even has her own pet shampoo available,” he said.
Kearney offers a variety of scents spanning from earthy and natural to tough and manly as well as some seasonal scents such as Candy Cane. His scent development process can sometimes take a few weeks before he gets it to just the right formula.
“Typically, I’ll come across an essential oil that I like or am interested in and will research compatible oils that may make a good combo. Some scents can have only two oils and some can be more layered with four to six different oils combining to make one good scent. It all just depends on what outcome we’re trying to achieve,” he said.
While Homegrown Trading Post products are available in some local retailers such as the Healthy Touch Day Spa, A Smoking Place and The Herb Shop, Kearney (and Marley and sometimes Kearney’s mom), ship all over the country and offer free hand delivery to Statesboro addresses.
“I do everything from making the products, designing and printing our labels, to maintaining our social media accounts, deliveries, packing shipping orders, you name it. Marley and I have it down to a science now. During really busy times like the holidays, I’ll get my mom to chip in with deliveries and such,” he said.
When browsing the website where Kearney collects his orders, you’ll notice that many of the scents are named after songs. That’s because music was Kearney’s first true love.
“I’ve been playing guitar since I was 11 and play in a band called Parts & Labor, based out of Macon. We play a blend of rock, blues, soul and folk. We released an album last year (much of which was written right here in Statesboro) that we recorded at the famed Capricorn Studios in downtown Macon where so many of my musical heroes recorded back in the day,” he said.
Kearney’s plans for the future include some tour dates in spring and summer with Parts & Labor, but when it comes to business plans for the future, he leaves that up to God.
“Every morning when I pray, I tell him ‘It’s your business, please just help me to do with it what you want me to do,’ and I really do mean it. We don’t really advertise other than social media but I just have 100% faith that I’m doing what God put me on this Earth to do and that’s honestly all I’m concerned with,” he said.
Kearney says that profit margins and capital gains and other things like that don’t matter much to him. What’s most important to him is working a job he loves and that keeps a roof over his head and food in his belly.
One future plan he has is working on a line of candles. He’s “always loved having a good smelling candle in the house,” so he is planning to bring that option to his customers in the very near future.
While Kearney’s customers benefit from all-natural ingredients in their products, local organizations benefit from Kearney’s philanthropic work. Homegrown Trading Post donates soap to places such as Safe Haven and Open Hearts Community Mission. Kearney also donates money each year to the Georgia Southern Center for Addiction Recovery.