Milking treatments: Shelbyville woman creates natural products, helps cancer side effects

One by one, the goats at Bass Farms line up in their proper milking stalls.

The animals are smart enough to know where to go and how to position themselves when it’s time to milk. Once the first one is let out of the pen, the others just follow in line and wait for the milking to begin.

For Jana Bass, the joy is working with the animals, being hands-on with the milking process and getting to know each one’s personality. But while the practice inspires nostalgia for her 4-H days, Bass’ herd also is the engine that has driven a growing business.

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From her family’s Shelby County farm, Bass has carved out an all-natural skin care business. Her handmade lotions, ointments, face scrubs and other products use goat’s milk as the primary ingredient and have won over customers from all over the country.

One product, her Triple B hydrating cream, has shown to be incredibly effective in treating the radiation burns suffered by cancer patients. The cream has become so popular that Community Hospital South has become a regular customer, and other area hospitals have clamored to get on Bass’ waiting list.

“It’s refreshing that we’re able to offer a product that’s more natural and organic,” said Dr. Darrel Lawrence Ross, a radiation oncologist at Community Hospital South. “Who doesn’t know about honey? Who doesn’t know about ingredients like frankincense and myrrh?

“The only challenge is keeping it on the shelves.”

Bass is a Whiteland native who graduated from Whiteland Community High School in 1992. Her parents lived in town for 55 years, and she was a 10-year 4-H member in Johnson County.

She still comes back for the county fair, and plans her summers around it.

“This will always be home, Whiteland and Johnson County,” Bass said.

After she and her husband, Brad, were married, they moved to a farm in Shelby County. With a herd of goats, Bass started using the milk the animals produced to make soap, selling it every week in the summer at farmers markets.

Goat milk is chemically similar to human breast milk. It contains calcium, vitamin B6, vitamin A, potassium, niacin and copper, and is less likely to cause allergic reactions.

Experimenting and playing around in her kitchen with ingredients such as organic lanolin, beeswax and coconut oil, she stumbled upon the recipe for what would become her breakthrough product: Baby Butt Butter, or Triple B.

“The first time I made it, it was for one person, who wanted it for her baby. It was trial-and-error,” she said. “It looked like butter when it was done, so I thought it would be funny to call it that. I never thought I’d make it again.”

But Bass’ friend was so impressed by the moisturizing cream that she wanted more. Bass tried to recreate the mixture, working for six months to perfect the original recipe.

As more people used the samples that she distributed, she learned that it worked for burns and a wide array of other skin issues, such as healing scars and psoriasis. But a breakthrough came when Ross came across the cream.

He was looking into alternative products to provide his breast cancer patients to soothe the burning from radiation treatment. Doing some research, he found Bass Farms, and noting that it was local, approached Bass asking if she’d provide some samples to distribute to patients. She agreed.

Ross passed those samples to his patients, asking them to report back how it worked for them after using it three times a day for multiple days.

Every one said that it was a breakthrough for them.

“They came back loving the product. They had no side effects from the radiation. Where their skin might have been red and peeling before, maybe it was only a little bit pink,” Ross said. “It completely helped maintain the integrity of their skin.”

The success of the cream led Ross to sell it from his office, then to recommend that Triple B and some other products be featured in Community Cancer Center South’s Fig Leaf Boutique, specialty shops aimed at patients with cancer.

“We can cure women of breast cancer, but we can’t always treat the psychological aspect of having cancer,” Ross said. “If you can take away some of those side effects of undergoing treatment, you can help them even more psychologically.”

From soaps and Triple B cream, Bass’ inventory has grown. She sells oatmeal and goat milk bath mixture, charcoal body wash, and lotions ranging in scents from vanilla bean to coconut lime verbena to peppermint twist.

She has created a shaving soap for men, and a bug spray of her own design made up of neem, tea tree oil, lemon oil and eucalyptus.

Bass has relied on word of mouth to keep her business growing. She gives away samples at events, and works directly with small businesses to get her products placed on shelves.

“I will give away stuff, and then see the benefits of it 10 times over. Sometimes I think that I shouldn’t give away so much, but I’ve seen such good results,” she said.

Bass Farms’ products have grown to the point where Bass is at the limit of what she can produce herself. She already has standing orders from about 50 retail outlets, including working with Kroger stores in Franklin and Fishers.

Hospitals throughout central Indiana have contacted her about ordering her Triple B cream, but Bass has had to refuse. Since she makes each batch herself, she doesn’t have time to take on more.

“We tried to use two different manufacturers, but they couldn’t get it the exact same. A lot of my customers were OK with that, but not the cancer patients, and I kind of feel an obligation to them. So I’m doing it myself again,” she said.

Bass and her family are in the process of building a workshop on their farm that will specifically be used to make these products. Her hope is to also keep trying manufacturers to find one that can replicate her Triple B recipe.

“I just kind of fell into this. I can’t believe any of this. I can’t believe it helps so much, or that people want to use it,” Bass said. “I don’t like the idea of disappointing, and not being able to provide to people who are genuinely in need.”

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What: A company specializing in skin care products made from goat’s milk and other natural ingredients such as neem oil, grapefruit oil, lanolin and honey.

Where: Shelbyville

Founder: Whiteland native Jana Bass

Products: Hydrating creams, lotions, sugar scrub, face wash, ointment and makeup remover

Where to find it: Bass Farms products are available at more than 50 stores throughout central Indiana, including Johnson County locations:

  • Salvage Sisters, 398 E. Jefferson St., Franklin
  • Kroger, 970 N. Morton St., Franklin
  • Salon 105, 105 S. Holland St., Edinburgh
  • Franklin Cornucopia, 2797 N. Morton St. Suite C, Franklin
  • Johnson Memorial Hospital, 1125 W. Jefferson St., Franklin
  • Studio Stuff, 43 N. Main St., Franklin
  • Truly Extraordinary Nails Salon & Spa, 210 S. Emerson Ave., Suite A, Greenwood