I’ve really been looking forward to sharing today’s Behind the Biz interview with you. But first, if you’re new around here, Behind the Biz is my weekly interview series where I share my favourite businesses, the people behind them and their business journey. In today’s interview we’re diving into the world of natural and organic skincare.
In today’s interview I’m chatting with Wendy Stirling, the founder of Botanicals.
Where did the inspiration for Botanicals come from?
Inspired in 2002, founded in 2004, Botanicals is a UK company producing organic skincare products, all of which are certified by the Soil Association. Based in rural Leicestershire, we research, formulate and hand make a full range of products for face and body using the pure power of plants to promote health, beauty and wellbeing for both the consumer and the environment.
I’ve always loved nature and believed in the benefits of living ‘naturally’, but the inspiration behind Botanicals actually came from my daughter. However, not in a nice way! When she was nine, my daughter experienced a nasty reaction to a shampoo that claimed to be natural. At the time, like most people I trusted what was printed on the label. The shampoo had ‘herbal’ in the name and clearly stated it contained ‘herbal ingredients grown under organic conditions, with no petrochemicals’. However, because of the severity of my daughter’s reaction, I made it my mission to find out what she had reacted to. I researched the ingredients listed on the label and soon realised that, whilst the shampoo’s herbal ingredients may well have been grown under organic conditions, with no petrochemicals, the shampoo itself was full of them! The more research I did, the more astonished I became at what brand owners could include on their packaging. By using clever wording, they could make blatantly misleading claims without falling foul of trading standards or advertising standards. We now call this ‘greenwashing’.
I therefore set about looking for authentic, natural and organic skincare brands I and my family could trust, but at the time there seemed to be very few available. I was so passionate about this cause, I decided to create my own range and Botanicals was born.
How did you decide upon the name of your business?
It was quite simple really. I was driven by a desire to make organic skincare products as close to nature as possible. So ‘Botanicals’ seemed an authentic way to describe what we do!
What did you do before starting Botanicals?
I worked in a marketing role, mainly in the public sector, but also freelance.
Did you always plan to set up your own business?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My parents, grandparents and great grandparents ran their own businesses, so I guess it’s in my DNA.
What has been the biggest challenge in running your business so far?
Juggling so many different tasks and making sure they are all done well. I have a fantastic team of people working with me, but I’m still ultimately responsible for everything from; making sure we are stocked with all our raw materials, bottles and jars, through to paying suppliers invoices, organising production and dealing with PR and promotional activity. From the outset, the entire Botanicals range has been certified by the Soil Association, so a great deal of my time is also spent dealing with regulatory compliance.”
What has been the highlight of your business journey to date?
I love creating formulas that make people feel good and that make a difference. Every time a customer calls, writes or posts a review on the Botanicals website, it’s incredibly rewarding to hear their stories of how my formulations have helped them feel better in some way.
What role does social media play for your business and do you have a favourite social platform?
Social media is very important to us. We believe that once tried, people will fall in love with Botanicals. Not only the amazing aromas and the lovely feel of our products, but also the clearly visible improvements in the look and feel of their skin – creating emotional wellbeing too. Bloggers, especially those focusing on natural and organic beauty, are great advocates for the benefits of Botanicals and it’s a great way of sharing their personal experience with others.
I would say Instagram is my favourite social platform as it taps into my creative side! I especially love seeing how imaginative people can be and the amazing, colourful photos they take of our products!
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Firstly, do what you love. It will be a driving force behind the success of your business. I love everything about my job. I start planning my tasks from the minute I wake up in the morning and only stop when I go to bed at night. I don’t really see it as a job, more of an expression of who I am. Secondly, make sure you have a good team behind you to help make your dreams become a reality.
Where do you hope to take your business in the year ahead?
Botanicals is continuing to grow so hopefully more of the same, with increased numbers benefiting from using authentic, natural and organic skincare. We’ve also just launched Botanicals Organic Spa Rituals, a lovely range of holistic treatments for face, hands, feet and body. So now more people can enjoy using Botanicals products at home as well as in-salon.
However, be reassured, it’s our intention Botanicals remains a niche brand. I believe there’s a real need for artisan produced skincare products, particularly for those with skin sensitivities. Botanicals products are made in a very different way to commercially produced skincare products and this is reflected in the results they achieve. For instance, all Botanicals’ products are made fresh, in small batches, to preserve their active botanical properties. Our processing methods also ensure the vital life-force of the plant isn’t destroyed by heating or over-processing. I strongly believe mass production would be detrimental to the quality of the product we offer, which people love and respect and which we have built our name and reputation on.
I want to say a huge thank you to Wendy for taking the time to be involved with Behind the Biz. I feel very lucky to have her as part of the series. I’ve been a fan of Botanicals for a couple of years now and have converted both my mum and friend over to the brand. I hope you’ve enjoyed finding out about Wendy’s business journey as much as I have. I love hearing from passionate business owners and find Wendy to be a real inspiration to me.
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