While strolling through the Inman Park Festival in April or Virginia-Highland Summerfest in June, look for a kayak and Melissa Page in her captain’s hat to find the Sea Goat Soap and Sponge booth. After smelling the pure fragrances, reviewing the natural ingredients listed on the soap bars, and learning about sea sponges – you’re sure to become a repeat customer.
“Men and women today are more in-tune with what we put on our skin – our largest organ. Goat’s milk soap and natural sea sponges are great products to use,” Page said
This Old Fourth Ward resident, with two decades of experience in product development and branding, has found an unexpected second career as a sea sponge entrepreneur.
“I’ve always been drawn to things that are both natural and renewable,” Page said.
This “happy accident “ started when she was formulating soaps in her kitchen to help her nephew who suffered huge welts from mosquito bites. She developed a blend of “bug hating” essential oils and nourishing butters to repel mosquitos without using DEET.
As she expanded her soap recipes, she turned to goat’s milk, an ancient skin care tradition because its pH level is similar to healthy human skin and very moisturizing.
Then she discovered the benefits of using sea sponges, which Page explained are “very absorbent, suitable for sensitive skin, more durable than synthetic sponges and do not mold or mildew.” Friends kept asking her where they could buy sea sponges and her hand crafted apothecary products.
She knew she could transform her hobby into a business, but credits her husband with its unique name. Page often used her goat’s milk soap and yellow sea sponge together, so like a Reese’s peanut butter cup, she decided to combine them. This product reminded her husband of the mythical Greek Sea Goat, with a goat’s head and body and the tail of a fish.
Page works with two licensed Florida divers who harvest sea sponges from Tampa to Key West. The divers hand cut each sponge leaving more than one inch of base to ensure that in a few years they’ll grow back, often bigger and healthier.
“It’s like deadheading a flower – they all come back. It’s not like coral. Sea sponges are a totally renewable resource,” Page explained.
Whole yellow sea sponges can last at least a year with no care required if you squeeze them out after use. But for those so inclined, Page provides a care sheet.
Sea Goat also sells a vase sponge, used to hydroponically grow plants without soil. Just place it in a bowl with water and you can easily create your own herb garden or grow orchids, seedlings, succulents and more. Watering depends on what you plant.
As her customer base grows, Page now prepares her products in a recently purchased mobile classroom with the help of her two sisters. There she can let her soaps cure four to six weeks on drying racks like baked goods to make them last longer.
For now, Sea Goat’s primary source of distribution is its website, seagoatsoap.com. But spring and summer festivals enable Page to educate new customers about what’s right for their skin and allows repeat customers a chance to restock.
“People are always asking me, where can I find your stuff in a shop?” Page said.
That’s the next step for Sea Goat, to place her products in more stores. For now, you can find a few items at Zoo Atlanta
“That’s my push for this summer – to be more brave and more proactive and seek new outlets,” Page said.