The world in lotion
PUBLISHED: 11:16 16 December 2014 | UPDATED: 11:16 16 December 2014
The mums behind Love Soap come clean about their plans to Martin Chambers
Mum’s the word when it comes to Love Soap and its organic baby soap products.
And the Soil Association has now given a green seal of approval to the carefully crafted creations of these earth mothers turned mumpreneurs.
The three sisters behind the year-old start-up are twins Charlotte and Emily Wiltshear, 35, and Claire, 33.
Charlotte’s husband Tom Watkins runs a soap making operation in Woolpit and his factory premises provided the base where the young mums made their plans to clean up in a market they believed left a lot be desired as far as care and quality for their young ones were concerned.
Charlotte says: “We were looking for a good product we could use on our children which was organic. We thought the market was lacking and we thought we could produce something better than what we were finding.
“We wanted to go for quite a stylised product because what we found on the market was all very twee. It was all very predictable and we wanted something a bit different and that is what we have come up with, our own range. The soap background was the inspiration.”
Emily adds: “The products I tried just did not have the performance I wanted, and some claimed to be organic but looking at the ingredients it was clear they weren’t, though they had the right wording to pull you in.
“We wanted to create something that said exactly what it does and what it has in it. We are certified organic by the Soil Association, which is quite a comprehensive process to go through. You don’t have to be certified to say your product is organic in beauty products. Anyone can claim they are organic, so we wanted to make sure our customers could really trust what we are saying – the stamp of approval if you like.
“All of our products are liquid soap products. We have a combined shampoo and body wash, a bubble bath and hand wash. We buy an organic soap base from Stephenson and we add carrier oils and the essential oils like mandarin and we mix them here. The Soil Association traces back every ingredient that we use.”
Emily tells me that the range of products is dictated by the end-users, young children, since there are only certain essential oils that can be used on little ones. The price of those oils is an important factor too.
One interesting fact crops up when I ask about local ingredients. The mumpreneurs wanted to use Norfolk lavender but could not find an organic supplier. So any organic Norfolk lavender growers out there – get in touch!
Love Soap sells wholesale to 21 stockists, Snape Maltings being the biggest local one, as well as selling through their website at lovesoapltd.co.uk. A trade show in January gave them the opportunity to sign up with a lot of their customers. “We are trying to get our name out there,” says Emily, “but it is a learning curve.”
Charlotte adds: “Our outlets are mainly specialist children’s boutiques – a few in London and round the country, and we have outlets in Europe now and one in Australia. We are picking up a lot of business through social media. With children’s products it is quite trend led and Instagram is a really good way of promoting our brand.
The organic baby soap products are put together in the back of the Watkins’ soap factory, hand mixed by Charlotte and Claire, who live in nearby Combs and Stowmarket. The containers are then filled, labelled, boxed and despatched. Emily, based in Cambridge, does a lot of the business administration and marketing from home.
The Suffolk sisters went to Bacton Middle and Stowupland High schools before going their own ways in further education; Claire studied Animal Science at Writtle College in Essex, Textiles for Charlotte at Nottingham, while Emily did Geography at Sheffield Hallam University.
While talking to the three mums, Emily’s daughter Daisy is at nursery in Cambridge, Claire’s mum is looking after her baby Joseph, and Charlotte’s mother in law has her daughter Florence. The family network is important to them, and it is clear they enjoy the time they spend together working on the business.
“One of the reasons we set up the business was that we wanted to fit work round family life rather than having to fit the children round the job, and this gives us a lot more flexibility,” says Emily.
So Emily spends her days with her child and evenings doing catch-up with the business. Charlotte catches up with Love Soap’s Instagram account in the evening after work. Claire works days and spends evenings with her family.
Emily says: “At the end of the day, we are not looking to take over the world. We are doing this for us so that we can fit it in to our family time and give our children quality time, but also fit in work.”
Charlotte speaks about plans for the future: “We are looking to create new products. We produce a shampoo and bodywash and are looking to produce a conditioner and a body lotion to go with the two ranges we already have. We are looking at a range for mothers as well, and a solid soap, because a few people have told us they would like that.”
Emily adds: “We didn’t really want to run before we could walk. We will do a bit more next year, and get to trade shows and raise the profile of the brand.”
For more information visit lovesoapltd.co.uk