PHILADELPHIA, Mo. -- Randy and Elsie Stone's business, Stone River Goat Milk Products, sprung out of some of the worst circumstances parents can face.
The couple's elder daughter, Catie, was born with cancer. She had her first surgery at 2 days old, and from the time she was 3 weeks old to almost 7 months old, she had to undergo rounds of chemotherapy.
Catie's body reacted to the chemotherapy by breaking out in hives, leaving her with extremely sensitive skin as she grew older.
"We bought every kind of lotion and soap," Elsie said. "Expensive soaps, expensive lotions -- nothing seemed to work."
After hearing about goat milk soaps and lotions, Elsie said, they decided to try it. The goat milk products proved to be much more effective.
"Her skin wasn't so dry, and it was becoming more plump," Elsie said. "Before, she would sit around and scratch to the point where she bled."
Elsie began making goat milk soap on her own. Soon after, she began testing out new formulas and creating her own recipes. Eight years ago, they started selling the products.
"I was working a full-time job at that time," Randy said. "(Elsie) started selling a bit here and there, just for side money to help with the bills."
Their first stops were at farmers markets, where all of the Stone children -- Catie and her younger siblings, Emily and Matt -- would help out.
"Catie just loved the business," Randy said. "She would always help me sell at the farmers markets. She loved people and never knew a stranger."
Catie died when she was 18. Randy said his faith helped him deal with the loss.
"I believe I'll see her again," he said. "That's a comforting feeling."
The family now views the business as a way of keeping Catie's memory alive.
"It's a living thing for her," Elsie said, "to contribute to her memory."
The loss brought the family closer and has given each of them a new perspective on life.
"I think, for the kids, it has made them more thankful for every day they have," Elsie said.
Emily and Matt are both nursing students, and the couple paid for their tuitions with earnings from the business. Elsie said she believes both children have chosen to pursue nursing because their experiences with Catie made them want to help others.
The Stones travel to shows up to 150 miles away. Their business has doubled annually over the last few years. Last year, they poured about 4,000 bars. This year, Randy expects them to pour more than 8,000 bars.
They have introduced new products such as lip gloss and beard oil, but Elsie still makes all the products, pouring each by hand in the basement of their home. They hope to build a workshop on their property to serve as a workshop and are looking into getting some small machines to help streamline the bottling process.
Stone River Goat Milk Products is a fixture at the farmers markets at Washington Park and at the Quincy Mall. The Stones also have begun selling online, which has led to purchases from several foreign countries.
"I believe God brought this into our lives," Randy said. "God sets the direction we're going. He's in control."