Iowa’s West Coast Initiative Feature: Loess Valley

BUSINESS OWNER:  Becky Flannigan

BUSINESS NAME:  Loess Valley

MAIN PRODUCTS/SERVICES: Small batch, handcrafted goat’s milk soap, and skincare products (lip balm, body scrub, hand cream, skin balm/salve)

LOCATION: Salix, Iowa

Short description of your business:  Loess Valley is a soap business specializing in goat’s milk soap. All products are created by hand, in small batches.  

What motivated you to start your business? What drives you each day? Honestly, I never set out to own and run a business. Soapmaking started as a 4H project when I was younger.  Throughout the years, I continued to raise goats and make soap for personal use. Eventually, friends and family started using and asking for my soap, and it organically grew from there. I feel strongly that this business is an opportunity God has blessed me with in life. I don’t completely understand why or how it has grown into this, but at this point, Loess Valley is just me stepping out in faith and obedience to be a good steward of this gift/opportunity.      

What’s unique about your business?  All of my soaps are made with raw, creamy milk from my small Nubian dairy goat herd.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome as you’ve grown your business?  Changing my mindset from being a soap maker to being a business owner (and thinking and acting like one) has been challenging.  

What has been your greatest reward? The personal growth and confidence I’ve gained as I’ve stretched myself out of my comfort zone.

How have you benefited from the startup community in Sioux City and the region? What resources did you use?  I’ve met with Todd at the Small Business Administration and received good direction and advice from him when I first started. Also, all the resources and events provided by Iowa’s West Coast Initiative have been extremely beneficial to me.

Are there any experiences that were particularly influential in that regard?  I have loved the opportunity to get to know, and learn from, other entrepreneurs and small business owners in the community. Iowa’s West Coast Initiative has been outstanding about offering programs, especially for businesses in rural Woodbury County.

What is one thing you know now that you wish you knew when starting your business?  How much it would stretch and grow me and that everything I do in running this business is out of my comfort zone, but I need to do it anyway.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a business?

Surround yourself with other small business owners through networking events, mastermind groups, or local programs that are offered. Keep at it and learn from mistakes and setbacks, but don’t let them slow you down.  

What are some future goals for your company?  Right now, a few of my big goals are building my soap studio to manufacture from, building a greenhouse,, and adding houseplants as a branch of my business. I’d also love to host events and open houses on the farm that allow the public to hang out with the goats and maybe offer some soap-making classes.

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