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Updated: Oct 9, 2020

Beauty Product Questions

How long have you been working on the development of the product?

Altogether, I’ve been working on my Flower & Spice products for six years now. I started experimenting with candles and different waxes and fragrances. It’s kind of grown organically from there with different ideas and demands from customers.

What is your educational and professional background and how do you feel it has prepared you for a career in beauty product development?

I worked hard at school, but to be honest, being the creative kind, my mind was always going to other things!

As a child, I was obsessed with the sense of smell, the memories it can create, and the memories it can draw you back to. We all have memories of certain smells from our childhood that will instantly transport us back to times when life was simpler. Like grandmas fresh baking.

I spent much of my childhood with my grandparents. My grandmother had a love of flowers and nature. It was her who introduced me to the world of smell. We used to go around the garden smelling the flowers and I would take it all in and be amazed by the feelings it gave me. We would even smell fruits and she taught me how the smell would change as they became ripened and were ready to harvest.

I suppose it was down to these childhood experiences, that I developed a good nose for scents and a natural intrigue about the experiences they brought and the need to experiment and explore.

My mother wanted me to be a doctor of medicine, but I really feel now that I am a doctor of scents. I did study biology and chemistry which has helped me to understand how the key ingredients interact, and also to understand the danger of big industry pumping products full of chemicals which surely cannot be good for us.

There are few places where you can go and learn specifics about the creation of beauty products or home fragrances and all of what I have learned, has been built on experience, experimentation and reading many many books.

What inspired you to design the beauty products?

This is an easy one. As I mentioned, my childhood was surrounded with scents and smells and this provided the foundation for me.

I think, going forwards in later life I spent 10 years working in manufacturing of many well-known brands and I was disappointed at the levels of chemicals and substances with names I can’t even say that were being used. I found this was a major driver for me to design my own products using mother nature, with a focus on organic natural components. After all, there are so many fantastic natural resources that we can use. Sadly, the only reason big companies use chemicals is all down to their bottom line and to please shareholders. I wanted to go a different direction and indeed prove it could be done with love and care for the world in which we live, whilst designing a simple and recognisable brand.

When I was 9, my mum had breast cancer, and in all honesty, it highlighted to me at a young age that you must dream and not be afraid to reach out and achieve your goals.

Ive been lucky to be with my partner who runs two successful companies and he had the desire to be an airline pilot, and put himself through flight school to achieve his dreams. Being around this sort of entrepreneurial driver has really rubbed off on me and really helped me to push myself each day. We can all achieve our goals, the only obstacle is yourself.

What does beauty mean to you?

Be-You-Tiful. I genuinely think that beauty is a very individual thing. What some people see as beautiful, other may not. Overall, for ourselves as humans, its ageing with style, being true to yourself and a reflection of simplicity and true elegance. We all grow old, get wrinkles and change through the years. I just wish everyone would embrace that instead of trying to stop it. They’d all be a lot happier!

What matters to you most as a product developer?

The environment. We now live in a world that is rapidly deteriorating and quite frankly without going on for ages, we need to live much cleaner and natural lives.

I look for the finest natural organic ingredients where I can create magical scents and explore the wonders of what nature provides.

It’s unfortunate, but these items do need to be packaged. I’ve spent a lot of time sourcing packaging that can be recycled, reused and not just put to landfill. Even down to the inks used in my printing and the paper used on the labelling. It has to be sustainable.

I’ve been experimenting with different glitters to put in some of my products and have managed to find one of the only suppliers of biodegradable glitters. Its damn expensive, but I wouldn’t use it otherwise.

I also know that a lot of organic and non-organic products like soap bars and liquid soaps are actually highly toxic to our oceans and aquatic life. This was a surprise as for most people, when you hear its organic, you simply assume it’s all good, but when you scratch the surface many are actually quite the opposite. I’ve just started working on an organic, gentle and eco-friendly formula that is fully biodegradable which I’m hoping to launch in the next few months.

How would you define your city’s beauty needs?

Vast! Everyone has individual needs, but I’d definitely say there is major change in the tide coming where the population will as a whole start to ask questions of the big brands they are using and start looking for well-made organic, eco-friendly products that are each handmade with love and care.

What is the best perk in being a product developer and having your own label?

Seriously, the best thing I find is when I get feedback on my products. I get immense joy from hearing about customers experiences with the products I’ve developed and created. Each product is a reflection of myself, and so I take it very seriously. I personally use all of my products as well as the products that are in development, but I think my partner gets fed up with having 20 different types of hand soaps lined up by the wash basin.

What would you say is your design product signature?

Quite simply, organic, eco-friendly, natural handmade products made with the finest natural ingredients.

What was the first product that you ever designed?

The first product I made (there were many variations of this afterwards!) was a black beeswax, coconut and soya candle. It took me ages to create this as I used a green extract which make it quite difficult to pour. I ended up having to create my own special way of pouring candles (which is rather complex) to avoid shrinkage and create an even surface with no bubbles against the container.

Before I got to this point however, I bought 4 bottles of essential oils. This is what started the product development. I’ve kept these bottles as a keepsake and to remember where it started.

How long does it usually take to develop and package the product?

It really depends. Some products kind of come around by accident whilst actually creating something entirely different.

Some of my initial products took 5 years to develop, but most of that time I was exploring and developing my techniques. These days, it can take around 6 months for new product to develop, go through testing and be up to a standard that I’m happy to stamp my initials on. Most of my concept products don’t make it as I have a very clear vision of what it should be at the end.

Perfumes take a long time to develop and macerate to prove my combination is what I expected. I don’t keep tonnes of stock either. Many of my stockists have to order 2 weeks in advance as I try and make things fresh and not hold on to them for too long. Candels for example, due to their natural properties will degrade slightly in quality over time, and so I create small batches of these.

I even print my own jars for the candles. When I spoke with suppliers, they wanted minimum orders of 3000 for each scent and I simply don’t have the room in my lab to store such volumes, so I created a printing method so I can manufacture what I need and nothing more.

What do you believe makes a quality product?

Passion and vision. I really believe that with a passion for what you are making and holding solidly to your vision, the quality of the product speaks for itself. You can tell a product that has been handmade with love and attention versus something that’s popped out of a soulless machine.

Are there any other product designers that you are inspired?

There’s a couple to be honest. Anita Roddick for her tenacity and drive to do things in a better way. Jo Malone is another. She had a clear vision and similar to me she decided to put her name to her product and make a difference. Sadly, its owned by large conglomerates now who focus more on profit and so I feel its lost a bit if its heart, but JM lives on with her new venture and her passion continues.

What advice do you have for aspiring beauty product developers?

Don’t give up! It’s taken me many years to even get to the point where my product is at a sellable level, through trial and error and learning all the time. Put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to be different. There’s no good keeping a dream in your head – live it as none of us really have that much time here.

Now, my products are available on my website, most Sundays at Covent Garden Apple Market, many small private boutiques and my most recent retailers are Story Boutique in Sunningdale in Surrey & Cherry Moon Boutique on Kings Road in Chelsea and those are just in the past few weeks.

What are some of your marketing goals?

The main marketing goal for F&S is actually word of mouth. I don’t have a massive marketing budget, as I believe the products really do speak for themselves. It’s great when I hear customers talking and recommending. Even better when I have people email me saying they were round their friends house at a dinner party and simply loved my candles and they have to have some.

Big companies have big budgets for TV campaigns to appeal to the masses, but really I’ve often gone on recommendation through trusted acquaintances and its never failed me. I think this follows through even from boring products like insurance companies right through to products like mine, especially when people hear the story and understand what I’m doing, and doing it differently.

Do you have other products in development that you plan to release in the future?

Of course. This never ends! I’ve got tonnes of ideas in the pipeline. I can talk about a few of them. I already mentioned that I’m working on a range of eco-friendly organics liquid soaps to include face wash & body wash. I’m also looking into an ultrasonic diffuser that works on a range a specially created essential oil mixes, holding steadfast to my brand principles.

Naturally there’s a few other things in development but you’ll have to keep checking my website, insta and Facebook pages to hear more on those when they are ready!

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