The entrepreneurship behind Horse O Peace soaps

Handmade soaps and goat-milk products may be trendy, but Elizabeth Sanders — creator of a fast-growing line of both — is anything but.

Sanders is the entrepreneur behind Horse O Peace raw goat-milk soaps and Healthy Pets goat-milk shampoo soaps for dogs and cats.  The Winston-Salem, North Carolina, resident has been featured in The New York Times, on ABC’s Tampa, Florida, affiliate and on radio stations throughout the Midwest. But she’s no beauty diva. 

 Sanders grew up in Minnesota, where she was born, and northern Wisconsin, where she followed the Dunkard Brethren, a community of Plain People similar to the Mennonites and Amish. On the family farm, she wore a kerchief and long dress and lived a simple life as she trained horses as hardy workers and gentle companions for children. Sanders even served as a handler in equine therapy for disabled youngsters.

“Our parents instilled in us that if we can help others, we do it,” she says.

Still, the rigors of wintry farm life and horse training began to take a toll on her hands.  That’s when she began making goat-milk soap to heal the cracks and chapped look. (The secret was using 100 percent goat-milk in the formula — no water, which tends to dry the skin.) Thus Horse O Peace was born, playing in its name on the farmer’s expression “a horse a piece up the road” to describe the ride to town. 

Sanders didn’t remain a follower of the Brethren. While the hard work and simplicity appealed to her, she says she found little room for herself as an independent, entrepreneurial woman.

Sanders married Nick, a nonmember who today handles the design, website and operational support of her brand, which is sourced from North Carolina farms. Sanders home-schools the couple’s four boys, ages 1 to 5, bakes and donates cookies for a men’s rehabilitation center and sends out free soap to any orders with a U.S. military address.

Proving that you can take Sanders out of the Plain People but you can’t take plain generosity out of Sanders.

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