Today I’ll be writing about an entrepreneurial local couple who have created a successful fledgeling business around their range of natural skincare products. If you’re interested in toxin-free, ethical skincare you’ll definitely want to find out more about this exciting enterprise. On the other hand, if you’ve ever dreamed about setting up your own small business, Anna and Mo’s story may well provide you with the inspiration you need to get started.
In the second part of this article I’ll talk about the bloggers ‘beauty swap’ I recently took part in. There’s a bit about my other blogging adventures too, and a series of product reviews which will be particularly interesting to those of you who favour natural, ethical beauty products.
Clean and Natural
When Knighton couple Anna and Mo Meshach’s toddler son started showing signs of infant eczema, the couple tried a whole host of lotions and potions to ease the symptoms. Frustratingly, nothing made any real difference, with some interventions making the problem considerably worse. Then a friend suggested that they try shea butter, a 100% natural nut extract which has been used for centuries in Africa for its superior skin healing and moisturising qualities. The results were dramatic, with the shea butter leading to an immediate and sustained improvement. For many people this would have been the happy ending to the story, but Anna and Mo had an entrepreneurial streak and a desire to spread the word about the benefits of shea butter and help others who could benefit from its curative properties.
There followed years of sourcing ingredients, negotiating with suppliers and testing ingredient combinations until around a year ago Clean & Natural Cosmetics was born. From simple beginnings Anna and Mo now have a range of nearly a dozen moisturisers and soaps, all of which are completely free from the unnatural preservatives and toxins which are so common in ordinary skincare products and so dangerous to those with sensitive skins.
“We’re very excited about the business,” co-founder Anna told me, “We’ve worked so hard and now it’s suddenly all taking off.”
As well as selling products via their online shop, Clean & Natural’s distinctive silver pots have been flying off the shelves at two stockists in Clarendon Park. You can pick up the organic coconut oil at Queens Road’s newest retailer Prettiez, and Green and Pleasant stock a more comprehensive range within their natural toiletries section. You can also pick up a flyer in either shop which entitles you to 10% off in Clean & Natural’s online store.
It really does seem that Anna and Mo have captured the zeitgeist with their range of products. Their dedication to using pure, natural ingredients has found favour not just with those treating skin conditions like eczema, but with a wider public who are developing an increased appreciation of the benefits of genuinely natural skincare. In addition to this, their products have found an unexpected market in people undergoing chemotherapy, a process which can lead to extreme skin dryness and hyper-sensitivity to the toxins found in ordinary toiletries.
“We’ve recently started working with a beauty therapist called Monika Shankster who works with cancer patients,” Anna explains, “The chemotherapy means they need gentle, natural products, so our range is perfect.”
Monika’s most recent enterprise involved teaming up with a fellow Hinkley local, photographer Michelle Kemp, to create empowering portraits of women who have survived or are undergoing treatment for cancer. The resulting exhibition aims to inspire other women who are facing the illness and their families. I Am Still Beautiful is the title of the exhibition and it will remain on show at the Atkins building in Hinckley’s Lower Bond Street until March 13. Do take a look if you have the chance, it’s an incredibly inspiring exhibition full of hope for anyone who’s life has been touched by this disease – thank you to Anna for letting me know about it.
Have you been won over by the idea of natural skincare? Do your skin a favour and support a local business at the same time by giving Clean & Natural Cosmetics a try.
Beauty and the Blog
When I first started this blog in May last year I fully expected that it would lead to me getting to know Clarendon Park and many of the people who live and work here better. What came as more of a surprise was that I also uncovered a huge global network of friendly, fun and supportive people – the blogging community. Perhaps the most enjoyable and certainly the most unexpected outcome of starting this blog has been tapping into this wonderfully varied network of fellow bloggers.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet a couple of local bloggers in person, and have written a few guest posts for other Leicestershire-based blogs. I enjoy taking any opportunity to connect with fellow bloggers and it was in this spirit that I signed up to the recent ‘beauty swap’ organised by Sarah, who writes the fabulous beauty blog Ohh So Glam.
I was paired with another blogger and the idea was that we made up a little package of beauty products costing £15 and sent these to each other, then blogged about what we’d received. Such a sweet idea and the whole process filled me with childlike excitement – who doesn’t like getting a surprise parcel? My swap-partner Bethan has been much more on the ball than me and has already blogged about the parcel I sent her, which included a pot of Clean & Natural coconut oil. You can read the accompanying post on her wonderful blog, Thought From Beth. As a bona fide beauty blogger she’s done a great job of describing the products I sent her.
I’ll now do my best to describe the items Bethan sent me and review each one, beauty-blogger stylee. If you’ve no interest in make-up reviews feel free to stop reading now!
Barry M Natural Glow Shadow and Primer Palette 2
I’d mentioned to Bethan that I tend to go for natural, neutral shades when it comes to make-up, and this was reflected in all the stuff she bought me. This eyeshadow palette by Barry M is just gorgeous with a range of warm golden shades which are perfect for everyday wear. There’s also a primer which you pop on your eyelids beforehand to help the shadows ‘stick’ better and stay on for longer. I’ve tried a couple of the shades already and I’m really impressed with the pigmentation of the colours and the staying power, especially considering that this is a budget brand. The colours and the whole look of the packaging is similar to Urban Decay’s ‘Naked’ range, but this is a fraction of the price – highly recommended!
Natural Collection Eyeshadow Duo in Mink/Sable
Natural Collection is a Boots range which, as you’d imagine, focuses on natural, neutral shades. This duo consists of two warm shades of light brown, one the colour of babychino, the other more of a latte. I’m really cack-handed when it comes to putting make-up on but you really can’t go wrong with this product – the colours are light enough that you can splodge it on fairly haphazardly and still end up with a subtle, effective result. As well as being ideal for someone like me who prefers the understated look, I’d suggest that Natural Collection products are perfect as a first make-up gift for a tweenager who wants to start experimenting with make-up without going over-the-top.
Nivea Fruity Shine Watermelon lip balm
This is a subtly tinted, slightly glossy lip balm which has the distinctive smell of fresh watermelon. What’s not to like?! I have dozens of lip balms distributed all over the place – every room of the house, my desk drawer at work, my handbags, my car glove box, Will’s car glove box – I have a bit of a fear of being balm-less and there’s always room for more. This new addition has taken pride of place in my main handbag. Oh, and according the packet it’s got ‘Hydra IQ’, which can only be a good thing.
ecotools Retractable Foundation Brush and Six Mini Brushes
Bethan sent me two ecotools products – a foundation brush in it’s own recycled fabric pouch and a set of six mini brushes for applying eye make-up or lipstick. I don’t like the idea of prodding my face with the fur of a slaughtered weasel, which is what many ‘natural’ make-up brushes are made from, so ecotools’ range of cruelty-free synthetic brushes is right up my street. They’re very soft, good quality brushes which I’m sure will last me for ages, and the retractable brush is particularly handy for travelling, which I do plenty of. If your make-up brushes are looking a bit threadbare and need replacing do take a look at the ecotools range on their website – the quality is excellent and they’re so much cheaper than the high-end brands.
Maybelline Colour Tattoo 24hr in Permanent Taupe
I must admit I found the description ‘permanent taupe’ a little off-putting initially – it sounds a bit like some sort of industrial grade grouting product rather than anything you’d want to smear on your eyelids. After using it though it’s turned out to be my favourite product of the lot. In the pot the colour looks brown, but on the skin it’s more of a mid-tone grey. I usually go for warm brown and gold eyeshadow shades so I wasn’t sure how this would look but it’s really pretty once it’s in situ and seems to do a great job of intensifying the greeny tint of my eyes. Don’t be put off by the ‘tattoo’ thing either – it’s a surprisingly forgiving cream shadow which you can use to either create a sheer wash of colour or build up in layers until you get an intense smoky look.
Thank you to Bethan for being my beauty swap partner and making this such a fun experience, and to Sarah for organising the swap in the first place. And thank you, Clarendon Spark reader, for humouring my little off-message foray into the world of beauty blogging. You’re all beautiful.