It is a real pleasure to introduce to you Laurinda who’s the genius behind The Little Cornish Soap Company. This amazing, talented and very motivated lady has kindly shared with us her business story.
Tell us a bit about your background and your business?
Welcome to The Little Cornish Soap Company:
My name is Laurinda Taylor and I am a mum of 3. I make all of my Skincare and Soap on the boundaries of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, an area of outstanding natural beauty. Bodmin Moor is of course home to the famous and elusive “Beast of Bodmin”.
I started out making soap in my kitchen in Cornwall several years ago. As a person who believed in the natural benefits of herbs and flowers, I wanted to find products that were not only kind on the skin but therapeutic. I loved the idea of making my own soap, using natural ingredients; most soaps were quite harsh on my skin and full of ingredients that were artificial. So I started making my own with natural and organic ingredients, sourced from local companies where possible. These soaps were generally made for use by my family and given as gifts. I was then given the opportunity to buy a natural skincare business from a colleague of my husband, who at the time was organising craft markets. This turned out to be the best move for me, as it enabled me to firmly base myself in the natural skincare market and create a loyal customer base.
After two years, the 2008 recession hit and I made the hard decision to sell the company, which I had tried so hard to build up and develop. But out of the ashes, came the phoenix, my husband persuaded me, that as the business had been sold to someone out of the area and many, many miles away, I was able to set up a new company, rebrand and launch some brand new products. So the Little Cornish Soap Company was created.
Tell us more about what you make and what training and qualifications you have or needed?
I hand make natural soaps using the traditional, Cold Pressed method. Handmade soap made using the cold process differs from industrially made soap in that an excess of fat is used, beyond that which is used to consume the alkali (in a cold-pour process this excess fat called “superfatting”) and the glycerine left in acts as a moisturizing agent. However, the glycerine also makes the soap softer and less resistant to becoming “mushy” if left wet. Superfatted soap is more skin-friendly than one without extra fat soap. Superfatting can also be accomplished through a process known as “lye discount” in which the soap maker uses less alkali than required instead of adding extra fats.
I also make Natural and Organic Skincare products, I pride myself on NOT using any artificial ingredients, such as colourings or fragrances in any of my products, I believe that by adding these, takes away from the quality of the natural ingredients that they contain.
I underwent an Aromatherapy course, to help me understand the natural benefits of the oils that I would be using and I am also a member of The Guild of Craft Soap and Toiletry Makers.
Where do you sell/exhibit your work?
Living in Bodmin, Cornwall really helps with my business, 70% of which is from attending Craft Fairs, Farmers Markets and Big County Shows. These are plentiful in Cornwall and I would tell everyone, if you are coming to Cornwall on Holiday, look out for some of these events, they take place all year round. You will be able to pick up fresh local produce, local handmade crafts and much more…These event are where Cornwall really comes to life, I like to attend small local markets of which I do 3 Saturdays a month at different locations, I believe in supporting the local community. Not only do I buy the honey that is used in my soap locally, but the same Beekeeper also provides the Beeswax for them too. The spring water that is used in the making of all of my products is from a natural spring on the outskirts of Bodmin, 5 miles from where I make my products and our ceramic soap dishes are made 15 miles away from us too.
The other 30% of sales comes through the internet, be it from my website www.tlcsoapcompany.co.uk or through my shop on Folksy, http://folksy.com/shops/TLCSoapCompany or via my many offers on my Facebook Fan page https://www.facebook.com/TLCSoapCompany It is any wonder that I have any spare time left in my day, but, I have to say that if it wasn’t for my husband, who is a house husband and takes care of all of my administration, Website design, brochure design, photographs, accounts and SO much more, I wouldn’t be here today!
2007, was a challenging year. In May of that year, I gave birth to my daughter, Amile. What’s challenging about that I hear you ask? Well she was born at just 24 weeks into the pregnancy. I had events booked for all of that year, which of course were cancelled!
I spent a month in hospital; my daughter spent 6 months, 5 of which were in NICU. My husband kept the business afloat, in between hospital visits and taking care of our eldest 2 children. 2007 was the year that I nearly gave it all up! Then when the recession hit in 2008, you would have thought enough was enough, but soap making is therapeutic, it’s great for taking your mind off things and is the only thing that has kept me sane.
My 3 year goal is to have a bricks and mortar base (Shop), in Wadebridge, Cornwall. To continue to use local suppliers and increase the local supplier base by 50%. It is my intention that by 2015, I will have 3 employees,local, young people, who I will train to make soaps and skincare and pass on my business knowledge to them. As I said earlier, I am all about local; I am a local business, using local service, suppliers and in the future local people!
By achieving these goals, I will be able to increase the amount of products that I make and supply local shops and businesses my wares!
Global domination isn’t for me! (Just Yet!!!!)
Tell us about some of your favourite or most challenging pieces and what inspired you to make them, is there a story behind each piece?
My favorite skincare item that I make has to be my Natural Baby Balm; this product was one of my first handmade creations. It was inspired in 2007, when my daughter, who if you remember was born very prematurely, came out with extremely delicate skin, which became prone to sores and nappy rash. So I created our very own baby balm out of Beeswax, Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Olive Oil, Sunflower Oil and Avocado Oil. This gave me a great balm, which not only soothed and calmed the irritation; it also rehydrated and protected it. It was and still is a great success and is today one of my bestsellers.
A very nervous time, it may only take an hour or so to make a batch, but you have to leave it for 48 hours before de-moulding, then you have to leave it for 4 weeks. You have to try to not let the temptation of prodding and poking get to you!! The rose and YlangYlang soap has a delicate floral biscuit scent to it. It gives a soft, gentle lather and is ideal for sensitive skin.
It’s only after the 4 week wait, can you start to enjoy the benefits of the product that you have made.
My most challenging product has to be, well they are actually all rather challenging in their own different ways. Sourcing local ingredients is important, making sure that each of the oils, butters and plant extracts that I use complement each other and more importantly don’t cancel each other out. Making sure that the skincare products aren’t to greasy, but not to stodgy either! And the soaps, well if you don’t get the oils at the right temperature at the very beginning of the process, it won’t turn out right and it’s back to the drawing board…Sourcing sustainable Palm Oil, that is from a small holding, not a mass-produced, rain forest encroaching plantation, was also challenging. I can say that deforestation is not further enhanced by the oil that I use and that is very important to me. And making sure that each and every product is up to my high standards and then there’s the packaging. This is the final piece of the jigsaw, again. All natural and recyclable.
Where do you find your creative inspiration?
I spend my spare time, what little of it I actually have, going for walks with my family. We go to National Trust houses and gardens, to take in the sights and fragrances, we visit the beach quite often and walks in the woods and on the moors. These places are my inspiration, I take all of the colours and scents in, and try to work out how they would complement each other in a soap or skincare product! It’s not a bad way to live!
What motivates you?
My Husband!!!!, No really in all seriousness, if I am having a bad trading week, it is, he that keeps me motivated, apart from that on a daily basis, I am lucky to have a job that allows me to have a home life, as well as being a job that I LOVE doing. It is usually my husband that walks into the kitchen and says can you PLEASE stop now, I need to cook tea for the kids!!!
What piece of equipment could you not live without or which is your favourite and why?
I couldn’t live without my stick blender, I would be lost without it….that and my moulds, Why, well without the stick blender, the mixture wouldn’t be as smooth and the moulds, well it would run everywhere and that would be VERY messy!!!
What are your goals/plans for the future?
My mission is to pass on the benefits of Natural, Handmade Soaps and Skincare products at a reasonable price. I hope this will enable people who may not have thought about natural, handmade soap or Skincare products, or those that think it is too expensive for them, to at least try it for themselves.
My main aim is that you will notice the difference between my handmade soaps and natural and organic skincare products compared to those that are available in your supermarket and that you will not want to go back to the mass-produced ranges that usually contain a range of unnecessary chemicals, preservatives and artificial ingredients.
My plans for the future, well in the next 9 months I will be launching 12 NEW SOAPS and 3 NEW BATH SALTS and I will have completed a full rebranding of the skincare products. In 2013 I will be launching a brand new range of Skincare products.
Sea Spray Soap Launched March 2012
When you first started if you could have been given one piece of advice what would it have been and what advice would you pass on?
Know your stuff! What Stuff? Well firstly, there is the legalities of selling soap and skincare products in the UK and EU. Under current EU and UK legislation, You are NOT required to have your products assessed by a suitably qualified and approved professional (Chemist) IF you are making soaps and other products, NON-Commercially, for personal use or friends and family!
HOWEVER!!! If you are looking to manufacture them for retail to the public, YOU ARE required to have your products assessed. The final, certified assessment, forms part of required compliance with the Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations, 2004 (follow this link for full DTI documentation on these regulations). Each product should also have a Product information Pack attributed to it including: Batch date, Ingredients, Supplier, Batch Dates of Ingredients and Methodology. And beware these regulations constantly change, so keep an eye on the Department for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform to ensure you don’t get taken by surprise.
And last of all…Do not be afraid to ask your local Trading Standards for advice, we did and they were very helpful and when you get a visit and you will get a visit! They are there to help you stay within the law, so don’t be scared!
It’s a lot I know and it is one of the hardest crafts to get started in, but the initial outlay is well worth it in the long-term! And it is so enjoyable, you won’t regret it…
Lastly, where can we find you?
You can find us at www.tlcsoapcompany.co.uk this is our main retail site, which also holds all of our environmental and ethical policies. You can also find us at many events that we attend throughout the year, just have a look at our events calendar at www.tlcsoapcompany.co.uk/events.html, you can read our Blog for news and views or Follow us on Twitter.
But the best way to stay in contact with us, is to join us on Facebook and become a fan, learn about our product launches first, even help us to choose which product launches first or win a prize in one of our competitions. Interact with us and take full advantage of our special deals for our Facebook fans. Go to www.facebook.com/TLCSoapCompany and click LIKE, I look forward to seeing you there!
The Little Cornish Soap Company holds valid assessments for the products it makes and sells in accordance with Cosmetics Safety Regulations 2004 compliance and subsequent amendments. To maintain good manufacturing practices and quality control we hold on file a record of all product batches manufactured including the methodology employed and data on raw materials used.
In 2011, whilst looking to enhance my soap collection, I decided that if I were to use Palm Oil in the production of the soaps, then it should be from a sustainable source. Subsequently talking to my supplier, I have managed to source my Palm Oil from a sustainable supplier that is registered with the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO Statement).
Look for the V sign on our soaps, this symbolizes that these products are suitable for Vegans!
Thank you Laurinda.
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