Above: A clipping from Taste of Britain magazine from the early days, showing Sonya working at the kitchen table
In 2003, Chris worked with young people and Sonya was a part time reflexologist and mum to a 3 and 5 year old. Through the reflexology, Sonya came across the opportunity to buy a skincare business which was being run part time, by a couple who wanted to retire.
The purchase included old style scales with weights, templates to make boxes for mail order, a pink, crimplene tablecloth (for craft fairs), and enough raw ingredients to keep them going for a few weeks.
The most important thing, however, were the recipes. They were old country ones, which focused on using natural ingredients and had been handed down and passed on over many years. Sonya had used the hand and foot creams, and was impressed by their richness, texture and ability to make the skin feel great.
Chris was keen to take on the challenge of running their own business, so they decided to go for it!
During the first few years, the business was very much a cottage industry.
While the children (Ella and Rudy) were at school, the family kitchen was transformed into a fragrant, skincare mixing apothecary. Sonya made the products and Chris handled all the business side. As there was no website until a lot later, the products were sold over the phone, via postal orders and through local craft fairs.
The white plastic pots with fuchsia pink writing on them were changed to clear glass pots with cream labels and the name was changed to B Natural Skincare. The recipes were tweaked and we started experimenting and lab testing to create new products.
While we were cruelty free right from the beginning, artificial fragrances in the creams were replaced by natural essential oils and colourings were removed. Products containing unsustainable ingredients such as petroleum jelly were reformulated.
The first craft fair was at a village hall in Pelynt, Cornwall. The whole family went, and were nervous about setting up the stall for the first time. After a very slow trickle of customers and no sales, Chris’s mum saved the day by turning up mid-morning and buying something from almost all of the stall holders!
Over the following years the business grew. B Skincare moved from the kitchen to Sonya’s dad’s annex, and then to Coldrenick Farm. They are still at Coldrenick, where they rent 2 barns on Bodmin Moor, from their sheep farming landlady, Margaret Mutton.
Over the years there have been many highs and lows, but mostly highs. There has been a legal battle with a supermarket (who brought out a skincare range under the same name). The skincare range has grown and evolved, and the labels have been changed 3 times. Our team has expanded by having some wonderful members of staff join us.
We are currently lucky enough to have Clare helping in the office, Jenny and Pauline (Sonya’s mum) making and hand pouring creams and remedies, and Gill and Kate who come in and save the day when we need extra help.
All throughout this journey, family support has played a major part in the growth and success of B Skincare. Chris’s mum Liz did many of the deliveries, as well as Sonya’s mum & dad, Pauline and John. Chris’s dad, Bill (sadly no longer with us) did the accounts. Jo, Sonya’s sister, redesigned our labels (as they are currently). Ella and Rudy (Chris and Sonya’s children) have taken on various roles over the years, from labelling, to running the stall at fairs, to working in the office and making creams.
Above: Chris and Sonya with Lola, back in 2012
Sadly, Lola the dog, Brian the cat (both featured on the postcards) are no longer with us, however, rescue dogs Lucky and Wilma, now make regular appearances in the B Skincare office.
Above: Brian, posing for photo with some of our hand care products
Looking forward, Chris and Sonya are keen to continue making and expanding their range of skincare products while reducing their carbon footprint and ensuring the business is as sustainable as possible. None of this though, could ever have happened without the wonderful support of all of our customers... thank you!