From Mom to Manufacturer
story by Haiyun Jiang
When Ashley Graham started her handmade soap business, she didn't expect to go this far. "I am not a business person. I'm just a mom," says Ashley.
In 2011, Ashley's daughter, Chloe, suffered from a bad skin condition as a result of eczema that made her extremely sensitive to factory-made skin care products. To improve Chloe's skin, Ashley started researching and experimenting to create a soap that was mild and made from natural ingredients. Ashley's hard work paid off. In 2013, she developed a soap recipe that helped Chloe get better. The amazing functioning of the soap became well-known around Marshall County, and Ashley began to sell soap from her kitchen.
The business was growing bigger. Ashley, 33, and her husband, Ryan, 40, relocated to Paducah and rented a storage unit with climate control at 601 Broadway Street. Later, they opened Farmer's Daughter Soap, a few blocks down, with the star product "Chloe's soap." One ingredient of the soap is goat milk.
Evolving from a stay-at-home mom to a local business owner, Ashley doesn't take the business for granted. For her, top priority always is family. Ashley and Ryan started a blended family in 2010, with six children, Johanna, Blake, Zac, Chloe, Adam and Ethan, ranging in age from 3 to 14. It's a challenge for Ashley to manage both the business and family life.
Ryan works as an engineering technician for CMI Heating and Air Conditioning. He looks after the children after school, after Ashley picks them up from school and returns to work. Chloe and Adam have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Ashley often gets phone calls from the school about troubles they make in classes. Ryan supports Ashley's business and is happy with kids at home after his day's work.
Ashley's extrovert personality and warm gestures, along with her high-quality products, made her soap business boom. She hopes one of her children will be able to take over the business after she retires.