Thrings Meets... Cyril’s Soap Shed

Thrings Meets Catherine Shutler, Cyril’s Soap Shed

In this series focusing on the region’s businesses and entrepreneurs, Karen Perugini from Thrings meets Catherine Shutler, who turned surplus goats’ milk into a thriving business.

“What can you do if you have too much goats’ milk?”

When Catherine Shutler tapped that query into the internet more than 15 years ago, she had no idea where it would take her.

The answer – make soap – was the first step on a path which now sees Catherine and her husband, Gordon, produce up to 10,000 fragrant bars from a workshop at their home at Plaitford, near Salisbury.

The couple had been given the land, which had been in her family for generations, as a wedding present and set about trying to become self-sufficient.

“We got planning permission to build a log cabin to live in, had some vegetable patches and some chickens, and one day we said let’s get a couple of goats,” Catherine remembers.

“They kidded, so we had more goats and more milk, and we didn’t know what to do it with. So, I Googled and soap came up. I’d never really heard of goats’ milk soap before, and at the time there were only two other companies in the UK making soap from milk.”

While her two young children slept, Catherine took to the kitchen, using household saucepans to experiment. The resulting soap was a hit with family and friends and at farmers’ markets – and the business started from there.

Today, Cyril’s Soap Shed – named after Catherine’s grandfather, who used to socialise with fellow villagers in his shed, where the log cabin now stands – produces up to 10,000 bars a month.

Each one is lovingly packaged by hand to sell in farm stores and health shops up and down the country, as well as being supplied to B&Bs and hotels, and sold online. Essential oils are sourced as locally as possible from suppliers including New Forest Lavender at Landford.

For Catherine, the business is as much about the goats as it is the soap. The animals are carefully cared for, with mothers being kept with their kids until they are weaned, and the farm takes in rescue goats including some boisterous males who proved “too naughty” for their owners.

The soap is said to help with skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis and dry skin – and there is even a version especially made for dogs.

“There’s a reason Cleopatra was said to bathe in goats’ milk,” says Catherine. “The soap has lots of vitamins and minerals including Vitamin A which is good for the skin. It has a slightly lower PH level than normal soap, so it’s very gentle, really moisturising, and the milk has lots of sugars so it makes a rich, creamy lather. Goats’ milk really is a magic ingredient!”

Karen Perugini is a partner in the private client team in the Romsey office of the law firm Thrings. For more information about Thrings solicitors visit

Thrings Lawyers home page

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