There are so many small, independent beauty brands in the UK, who are producing quality products, that just don’t get enough recognition. I’ve been aware of Beauty Kitchen for years, as they were born in my city, Glasgow, and still have a shop here. It is only when their products got picked up by Holland & Barrett, and they got PR representation, that word started to spread about them. They produce an amazing range of face and body skincare products that are 100% natural and cruelty-free. I had a chat with owner Jo Chidley to find out more about her brand and its success.
What is Beauty Kitchen?
Beauty Kitchen is a range of 100% effective, 100% natural everyday luxury beauty products. The range is stocked exclusively in Holland & Barrett and was founded in 2010 by myself, an at-home chemist, herbal botanist and bee-keeper. I was recently recognised as one of the 25 most influential people in Natural Beauty in the UK. Beauty Kitchen is committed to 100% making a difference in everything we do, from sustainable packaging to ingredients and charity initiatives. It isn’t just about great products, it is about what the brand can do outside of the products.
What inspired you to start Beauty Kitchen?
Beauty Kitchen started through my own search for natural products. I was shocked to find that products were not as natural as they would like to appear and those that were natural were either not effective, too expensive or just plain boring. So, I found industry experts to help me and I started Beauty Kitchen to make 100% effective, 100% natural everyday luxury products with a sprinkle of fun and a big dollop of transparency! My overall goal is to get more people to buy natural products, not because they think they should, but because they really work.
I studied Chemistry at University and have always had an interest in beauty, and as a woman, I feel that we all have a natural instinct for beauty and beauty products. There is always something innovative launching, and I’ve always been interested about what happens beneath the skin. I’ve always been interested in learning more about your body and what ingredients, in particular plant ingredients, can do to support your body.
We all know you are what you eat, and when you apply a beauty product, your skin is literally eating it. I’m a herbal botanist, I’ve studied aromatherapy and I’m a bee keeper, and because I’ve studied Chemistry I’m always curious as to what makes a product work and what impact it has.
How has the business grown from your initial venture to now?
If anyone is starting a new business, particularly in the beauty industry, the word is action. Don’t focus on perfection and put up barriers, many entrepreneurs are perfectionists and are held back by perhaps not having the advertising or marketing right, and as a result not making an action or impact.However, even if you can just launch one product, you will learn everything you need to know from launching that product and by the end of the year you may have 4, and the following year you may have 20 – you can really start to build something. If you start small and get a cult following, with the power of social media you can really start to build your brand and story, even with just one product.
For Beauty Kitchen we are looking to grow the brand within the UK and internationally. We are fortunate to partner with Holland & Barrett who have bought our concept of DIY Beauty to life with Create Your Own product stations across their stores – most recently their Marble Arch store. This means customers can get personalised, freshly handmade products in store at a very reasonable cost. It is all about getting customers involved in making their own products and thinking about ingredients - that is what Beauty Kitchen is all about.
Is there a stand-out customer favourite product or bestseller that you produce?
I’m always searching for new, effective, 100% sustainable ingredients that are effective. A great example is our Seahorse Plankton microalgae. When I was out seaweed harvesting in deep water with a friend, he was telling me about the amazing benefits of microalgae and plankton (which I had recently discovered as a food ingredient). I then set about finding one that was really effective to use in our beauty products. Microalgae are the lungs of the earth (producing 50% of the oxygen that we breathe) and they also boast the unique ability to protect themselves from environmental stresses, making them the perfect skincare ingredient.
From the plankton (microalgae) we use, to the seaweed extract (which is hand harvested), everything is sourced sustainably and works to feed the skin. Using ocean-derived ingredients that we have cultivated ourselves e.g. Seahorse Plankton that comes from our bioreactor (a big greenhouse to you & I), this is a cradle to cradle method. Not only do we get the greatest ingredient, when you grow algae it creates energy, which we sell back to the grid and it turns CO2 into oxygen. We are not taking from the ocean. We are also supporting The Seahorse Trust, so every product sold from our Seahorse Plankton range helps support the charity.
What gap in the beauty market do you think that Beauty Kitchen fills?
We are very different to other natural brands, in that we have a sprinkle of fun in everything we do, plus we are all about total sustainability not just natural formulations.
We started Beauty Kitchen to make a difference and we try to do this in everything we do - whether it is making beauty products with sustainable packaging and ingredients, or just the way we conduct our business. We think all businesses need to become more sustainable and take a look at becoming a B Corporation to confirm their commitment to doing this.
How has being based in Glasgow/Scotland helped your business?
Glasgow is my home town & we have had a cult following there for a while. I think if you can sell to a Glaswegian you can sell almost anywhere. They give you straight forward feedback, so any new products we are launching, we test them on our customer base in Glasgow which is great as we get quality feedback direct to us.
All of our products except our Konjac sponges (they only grow in Asia), are made in the UK. We have 3 different manufacturing sites - one in Glasgow, one in Bradford & one in Somerset. The Bradford site again is an area that has high unemployment & we have generated jobs there. We will always manufacture in the UK, as there is a quality that comes with British manufacturing & it is important for the growth of our country.
What are your favourite Beauty Kitchen products?
Abyssinian Oil Aroma Facial Concentrate – Abyssinian oil just gives amazing, glowing moisturisation for all skin types. It’s suitable for even the most sensitive problem skin as its chemical composition is very similar to the skins own natural oils.
Seahorse Plankton BB Cream – not only does it contain our microalgae to give long term skin benefits, it contains natural mica powder that reflects the light to ensure an even skin tone on any colour of skin.
Bamboo Charcoal Konjac Sponge – everyone should have one of these, as they are just incredible for gentle everyday cleansing and exfoliation to keep your skin in tip-top condition. You can use it on its own or with your normal cleanser.
Inspire Me Hand & Body Lotion – I just love the fresh and uplifting smell and the fact that it glides on and is absorbed instantly, leaving skin soft, bright and toned. It’s great in the spring and summer when I get my legs out!
It’s so important to try to support small and independent British brands when we are shopping for beauty products. You will often get much better quality and more effective formulas from small skincare brands, that you will from skincare created by makeup brands for example. Shop local to help the environment and boost small businesses.
Main Image - Beauty Kitchen Instagram @beautykitchen