Interview with organic skincare entrepreneur Nathalie Bond
When Nathalie Bond fell pregnant with her son, she couldn’t bear to use her favourite skin care products and candles. So she started making her own organic products. Today she’s managing a growing family business.
What’s your career background?
I began my career in PR as a junior account manager, and over a number of years worked in a variety of roles ranging from events management, charities and as a deli girl just before my little boy (Alfie) arrived. I’ve never had one career path in mind.
How did your career change after becoming a mum?
I wasn’t in a job that demanded a career break when my son Alfie was born, so my intention was always to be a stay at home mum to any children we had until they were at school age. We both felt passionately about that.
However, My husband (Andy) and I had also spoken about wanting to run our own business from the first few months of meeting. Nathalie Bond Organics became real to use just before Alfie was born, so being a stay at home mum and running a business with my husband was then our decision.
So I am not sure if I would say it was a career change, but life certainly became more demanding!
What first inspired you to start making your own organic skincare products?
When I became pregnant with my son it had an unexpected effect on me, and for the first time in my life I couldn’t bear the fragrance of my favourite skincare products and candles.
I had always assumed that these products were natural but I discovered that nearly all of the products in my bathroom cabinet were full of synthetic chemicals – some of which aren’t even listed in the ingredients as they are kept secret under the term ‘parfum’ to prevent other manufacturers from copying their formulations.
Our skin is able to absorb what we apply to it and more than ever before women are soaking their bodies in a cocktail of chemicals every day with unknown long term effects.
I decided to start listening to my body and I stopped using these products and my husband and I began experimenting in the kitchen making products using only wonderful natural oils and butters that I know are safe and can be sourced sustainably.
When did you realise you could create a business from them?
We began the process by making our first range of candles from start to finish, including design and sourcing of packaging. We sold them at a local market and did really well.
That encouraged us to sit down and look at the numbers and put together a business plan. It was always going to be a step of faith, but Andy and I felt we wanted the challenge.
What skills or experience from your career do you use in your business?
I am not sure really. I guess my biggest skill is planning, and having a little experience in events management which helps in getting us ready for shows and markets.
Andy was a product designer before starting the business so his skills in sourcing and designing are invaluable to the business. We both are learning to sell and make things as we go along.
Why are organic skincare products so important?
Quite simply, if something has been made using organic produce you are guaranteed that it has the environment and sustainable practice at heart. We never wanted to be just another company making natural products. We wanted to make sure our customers were getting the absolute best quality products for the most reasonable price we could sell them at.
In a world where everything is made cheaply and produces mass waste, we felt organic products would be our way of helping the process of slowing down the ever increasing speed at which our world is degrading. For anyone interested in reading more about this, the soil association has a website with lots more information.
What products do you sell?
Our current range includes:
- £11 small and £25 large candles
- £5 cold processed soaps
- £5 lip balms
- £19 body oils
- £14.50 body balms
- £15 bath salts
Who buys from you?
We have several stockists across the country now, so people can buy direct from them or through our website. If you are interested in finding a stockist near you, just drop us a line and we can let you know where the closest one is to you (my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org).
What is your marketing strategy?
To be honest, we don’t really have one!
What are the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in starting your own business?
Fear of the unknown, and fear of what we don’t know or maybe feel unable to do. I think fear of any kind actually!
And your proudest moment to date?
We were really pleased to be chosen as one of the table tops for the country living kitchen table top pop up market at the country living spring fair in London earlier this year. And being chosen as editor’s choice of brand for the London wedding magazine in May this year.
How do you balance your business with your family life?
It’s a daily/weekly task. I do all my work around Alfie, so I need to plan my days quite well. I get about two hours every day and some evening to get all my work for the business done – basically when Alfie sleeps.
When I’m in mummy mode I want to be all there with him. I only have a few years to give him my all before education begins and we won’t be his only source of influence. Andy and I want to lay good foundations for him in these early years.
We also make sure we get a date night each week where we don’t talk about business and focus on each other. I have to plan in time to get house work done – boring! And I make the most of weekday play dates to allow Alfie to build good friendships with local friends and catch up with some of my special friends.
We make the most of weekends by going out for walks and inviting friends and family to tag along. And we also love having family to stay at weekends and friends over for meals on a saturday evening.
Where would you like to see your business in five years?
Our business is about more than just selling beautiful products. When we were setting up the business we were adamant that we wanted to incorporate philanthropy into the way the business works, but we didn’t know where to start.
One day a friend tweeted that over twenty thousand children under the age of five die every day from preventable causes (UNICEF). It’s a daily crisis that’s of little interest to the media yet it’s the worst thing we’ve ever heard. Our little boy was born five weeks early and if we hadn’t had the care from the amazing staff at the Jessop Wing in Sheffield he would not have survived.
The reason so many children die in the third world is due to poverty and a serious lack of trained midwives meaning that a child’s first twenty four hours is the most dangerous day of their life. We wanted to do something to make a real difference so we’re going to give 20% of our profits to make sure this situation changes in our lifetime – 20/20 is our vision.
We are still in the process of shaping how to incorporate this into our business in a meaningful way, but in five years’ time, one of my biggest passions is that women and children are supported financially and practically through the sales of our products.
What advice do you have for other aspiring business mums?
I don’t feel equipped to give advice really. The only thing I would say is to make sure you don’t isolate yourself, keep in mind that life is not all about work, and really spend time thinking through your work life balance. I genuinely believe if that’s right, most things will fall into place.
If you want to find out more about Nathalie or buy any of her products, please visit her website and get in touch. She’d love to hear from you.