BROOKSVILLE — There is a farm-based, vertical-integration business offering niche products along the Hernando-Citrus County line growing, literally, from the ground up.
Tolisse Farm breeds and raises goats, milks them and then sells raw milk and homemade goat milk cheeses for pet consumption. In addition to selling the goat milk, the business also processes the goat milk into skin-friendly soaps and lotions, marketing the products at a local outlet and on the Internet.
What might surprise you is that the family's youngest entrepreneur is just 14 years old.
She is Lily Perez, who has followed in the footsteps of her mother and taken their goat business one step further.
Lily's mom, Toni Perez, took a single goat on from a neighbor. Toni Perez fell in love with the animal. One buck deserves a mate, so Toni bought a doe. And a herd was born.
Lily started milking the goats at age 4. Now she spends several hours a day with them. She speaks to the crowd of 35 LaManches — a dairy goat breed — nuzzles them, and they snuggle nose-to-nose back. Lily fills their feed troughs, draws milk from nine of them and cleans up after all of them. She says none of her goat chores are demanding or distasteful.
Looking for a use for fresh goat milk and cheese other than pet consumption (they claim dogs slurp it up), Toni began making soap out of goat milk and other natural ingredients. She says goat milk soap is skin friendly because of its high percentage of butterfat, inherent moisturizers and vitamins.
Daughter and mother sell their products under the name SimplyCaprine goat milk skin care on Saturdays at the outdoor Wildwood Market near Floral City. But because soap doesn't stand up well to the outdoor Florida heat, they often take July and August off from the market. Their products also are available online at www.tolisse.com. The website notes that they'll work with customers for special orders
In addition to unscented products, they also have an extended line of aromatic soaps and skin lotions. She makes those combining goat milk, essential oils from nature such as aloe and, beeswax, aromatics such as cayenne pepper, cocoa, lavender, raspberry, avocado, coconut, grapefruit, lemon, sandalwood and more.
Lily's father, Jesse Perez, made rectangle and circle shaped soap molds for her.
Lily is home-schooled. Her mother says home schooling allows Lily to pursue her goat enterprise for about two hour a day.
In addition to her entrepreneurship, Lily shows her goats in competition, notably winning two grand championships in the last two years at the Florida State Fair.
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.