When did you set up your business and why?
I've always had sensitive skin. As a child I suffered with eczema and my mother found that certain washing powders made my skin flare up. As a teen, I suffered a lot with acne.
I studied to become a beauty therapist, thinking this would be the solution to my problem, but my skin didn't react well to many mainstream brands.
I developed a rash on a product I thought was 'natural', but after taking a closer look, it wasn't all that natural after all; something now known as green washing.
When I started to research, I realised that you could have as little as 0.1% of a natural ingredient in a product and call it natural. So, I took matters into my own hands and began formulating skincare products.
People noticed the difference in my skin and wanted me to make products for them, so I began the process of having products tested and compiling the paperwork to comply with cosmetics legislation.
I sold my first natural handmade skincare product in 2009 and opened my bricks and mortar shop in the Buttermarket Craft & Design Courtyard in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, in 2014.
There has been a name change, a rebrand and products have changed and developed over the years, including a soy wax candle range.
The ethos has always been to create simple but effective formulations with high-quality ingredients, producing gentle but effective products suitable for everyone.
Can you explain your process?
The natural and organic ingredients I use are sourced ethically and sustainably from around the world.
I believe a product does not need 20 ingredients to be effective. Products are made in small batches to maintain quality and freshness.
The current range is anhydrous (free from water) and as the purpose of a preservative is to prevent microorganisms which grow in the presence of water, it means I can opt out of using a preservative.
I also choose packaging based on its environmental merit, although this is not always easy as a small business.
What is your best seller?
Our Soothing Cleansing Oil is what I would call our hero product.
It’s so important to use a cleanser that maintains the natural oil balance of the skin, instead of stripping it away.
Oils not only moisturise, they are also lipophilic, which means that they are attracted to the oils on your skin, including sebum, which is the excess oil that causes those pesky breakouts.
Lots of customers say it’s an important part of their nighttime routine, both for their skin and the wellbeing aspect to help them mentally step away from the busy day.
I also have to mention our Wild Lemongrass Candle. It sells out often and won 'Scent of the Year' in 2022.
What is it about your business that brings you joy?
I really enjoy all the creative aspects - like product formulation, sourcing packaging and collaborating with other businesses.
I've worked with other small businesses to create limited edition products, which have been really well received.
It is also rewarding when customers come back to tell me the products have helped with an issue they had or even just that they love using it.
What are your hopes for 2023?
My main hope is to still have a viable business come the end of the year, as with all retail businesses, the current economic climate is hard.
Consumer spending habits have changed drastically due to the cost of living crisis. There has also been the continuous onslaught of issues Brexit has created, increasing costs and supply chain issues. It has been disheartening to watch so many small businesses close.
But on a more positive note, I hope to launch a few new products I have been working on.
One is a collaboration for a local community group to raise funds. I'm also working on increasing our brand awareness and adding to our list of stockists.
For the last two years, we have opened a pop-up shop in Erneside Shopping Centre for the month of December.
I would love to do this again. The unit is twice the size of our usual shop space, it gets us in front of new eyes and the location is more central.
What advice would you give to another start-up business?
My advice to anyone starting a business would be make sure you know your customer (and that is not always you).
Trust your gut, you'll get a lot of advice, not all of it good.
Be determined with your goals, but flexible with your methods. You need to be resilient and you will face set-backs. The people who dust themselves off and get back up are those who will succeed.
Visit https://naturalbeautypot.co.uk/ for more.