Keeping It in the Family


(Photo above: Johnson Family | Courtesy of Bend Soap Company)
With a wide variety of products using goat milk and other natural ingredients, Bend Soap Company is the epitome of a local Central Oregon family business. With almost every family member involved, a typical day at the company includes raising and milking the goats, working in the warehouse and labeling hundreds of products. Owners Dwight and Marilee Johnson are delighted to watch the business and family grow together in harmony. From production to labeling to fulfillment, everyone in the family has a part in their success — even the youngest whose learning how to greet customers.
“We have a few family friends that often join us for labeling parties, so it’s a lot of fun for the kids [to]work, learn efficiencies and attention to detail while hanging out with their buddies,” says Marilee.
The Johnsons 13 year old, Burnell asked to work in the soap house and they started him with shipping and fulfillment one day week. They love to see Burnell get mentored by their staff and thrive in an environment of constant learning. While days making soap may be long, the Johnsons absolutely love working with their family while teaching them about life, hard work and how to have fun with one another. As the parents learn, the kids learn as well.
“We discover everything from daily disciplines, salesmanship, customer service, agriculture, herd management, hiring employees, bookkeeping, business strategy, brand management, social media, product pricing, profit margins, cost analyses, and taxes,” says Marilee.
Community Support
The Johnsons agree that having the support of the Central Oregon community has made both living and working here that much more amazing. Many local companies agree, not only do we have a beautiful back drop to do business in, the local community is always so supportive of one another by sharing their experiences, wisdom and knowledge with one another.
“We love the relationships we have with all our customers and so many of the folks from local businesses as well. From our delivery drivers, to wholesalers around town, to vendors who support us — there are so many fantastic, wonderful people [here],” says Marilee.
The Future of Soap
Like many local business owners, when Bend Soap Company began, Dwight sold the products at various craft shows and artisan events. The next progression was getting the products into local stores. Shopping around the area, you’ll see products in several select stores in Bend and Redmond including: Natural Grocers, Whole Foods, Food4Less, Oregon Bath and Body, The Bend Store, Newport Market, Schoolhouse Produce and other boutique shops.
With the increased number of online shoppers, building an attractive website where customers worldwide can easily navigate, order and receive quickly was very important to the Johnsons. Whether you order online or pick up products at your favorite store, customers and fans of Bend Soap Company are also encouraged to visit the farm, meet the goats, take a tour and buy direct from the source — it doubles as a shopping trip and a fun family outing.


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