My day out at Natural & Organic Products, held at Olympia (it’s moving to Excel for 2015) begun with a stirring talk by the charismatic and environmentally minded business man Craig Sams, covering the state of the world, the economics of sustainability and how things are changing for the better – and by making the effort to be informed consumers we can demand quality products and the added benefit to our economy – a growth in sustainable jobs. A quick fix of extreme wisdom and a new book to read: Craig’s brother Gregory Sams ‘The State Is Out Of Date – We Can Do It Better’. Listen to Gregory’s interview. All fired up by the talk I went off to find businesses that were a match for Blue Patch.
Having skipped breakfast I was pleased to spot Primrose’s Kitchen. Primrose herself is a glowing tribute to her raw vegetable muesli which tastes utterly delicious. I took two packets (now almost empty at the time of writing this blog) and we’re planning to order a large sack full for my partner – he cycles 100 miles a week to get to work so quality fuel is needed. Primrose was assisted by her brother who runs boat trips on the Thames. We’ll have to write a nautical blog so we can find out more……
Bare Naturals immediately caught my attention, the stand was a joy and so were the products with Soil Association certified ‘Flower Farm’ blooming marvellous liquid soap and hand cream. Again a family business.
I have a lovely chat with Natasha Lawless, who is now working with her mother Julia, who is an internationally renowned expert on aromatherapy and author of ‘The Encyclopaedia of Essential Oils’ . Their company Aqua Oleum was one of the first aromatherapy companies to be established in the UK. Natasha, being a woman of multiple talent and high energy has two other businesses Aelder Design and natasha lawless for quality home wares. Natasha created the outstanding display shelving for the Aqua Oleum stand, everyone was commenting on them – quite a family.
Moving on I wanted to meet Tanya again, last year I was given a sample of her Therapi Honey Skincare and it is the best I have ever used. Tanya is a conservationist and bee keeper, so she couldn’t be more qualified to create a face cream that won’t damage the environment – in fact it will help sustain it – 5% from each sale is given to bee conservation.
The creators of the Natural Birthing Company are midwives as well as mothers. The pair have developed soothing oils and tinctures that can help women through the birthing process, based on their own experience of delivering babies. ‘Down Below’ is a perineal massage oil which helps prevent tearing and speed healing – sounds like a lifesaver to me! Hodmedod’s British beans and peas have been devised by another sort of family, a ‘community’ determined to make use of British grown beans, which is great as Hodmedod’s is also committed to working with British farms. So for healthy, fast and flavourful food you could easily buy a bumper box online. Director Josiah Meldrum is so passionate about his beans that we want to pay him a visit and meet this industrious community.
I always wanted to meet the Filberts, a family who seem to have the work life balance right, enjoying the outside lifestyle, bringing up bees in 100 hives in West Dorset and babies too- creating products that don’t contain palm oil. Their candles are made from 100% beeswax from the UK, and they make a multitude of other products with care and skill in their workshop. Another trip to the country for Blue Patch.
With young children in mind, Childs Farm produces highly ethical and pure soaps and shampoos that won’t damage children’s delicate skin, even if they have eczema. On top of this, mother of two and founder Joanna Jensen, supports the charity Riding for the Disabled and 10% of her sales goes to them, enabling youngsters to gain independence and experience wellbeing by being close to horses.
On the subject of washing, there are some champion ethical household cleaning products made by small scale manufacturers – so get online and buy from them directly: try Bio-D from Kingston -upon-Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire, greenscents, where their products are made in workshops in Dulverton on Exmoor and Lilly’s Eco-Clean based in Beara Co.Cork, Ireland. All these cleaning products are made to the highest standards, packed with sweet smelling, non-harmful ingredients and, as their companies grow, will also help to create local jobs.
The one thing that really struck me was the dilemma these highly ethical companies face about how big to grow, in other words at what point does the business change from their own ‘baby’ made locally and with the satisfaction of knowing your customers, to a healthy profit that makes it sustainable economically, to a mass produced item where the distribution is global and the income they make per unit and logistics change accordingly? Are there new ways we should be thinking about distribution and scale – is there a happy medium where people can create great products and have a life too – and is remaining local even feasible? This will certainly be an interesting forum subject when Blue Patch launches.