Making soap and bath treats for family and friends was a hobby for Laura Cullen for many years. But it wasn't until she was on maternity leave in 2019 that she decided to follow her heart and start her own business.

Here, she tells Living how she developed BrambleWood into a business to combine her love of country garden flowers with her desire to make beautiful natural skincare.

 

What was the idea behind BrambleWood?

Having found it very difficult to purchase natural, additive free skincare for my young family, I decided to start making a nourishing range of soaps that would be free from artificial fragrances, colours, parabens, SLS, SLES and phthalates.

My idea was to only use wonderful, natural and organic ingredients, combined with home-grown botanicals to create a product that would be beautiful for the skin and kind to the planet.

Our soap and skincare range celebrates our love of the countryside. We offer natural handmade soap, botanical bath teas and luxury bath fizzies. Each product is decorated by hand with a beautiful array of botanicals that are grown in the family gardens and by trusted local growers.

 

Have you always had an interest in beauty products?

From as young as I can remember I loved to pick flowers in my grandfather's garden to make perfumed ‘potions’ from his beloved sweet peas and roses. When I first learnt to make natural soap, I was completely fascinated how the cold process method of combining oils with an alkali created solid soap. I wanted to learn more and read every book I could about the traditional soap making methods and how the use of botanicals can add scent when used to decorate the products, and add wonderful therapeutic properties when infused in the oils.

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Why was it so important to make the range natural and cruelty free?

It was very important for all our products to use only natural ingredients as commercial soap is often made with chemical detergents, hardeners and synthetic lathering agents. Some of these ingredients can be very drying and irritating on the skin and unfortunately the glycerine that is formed naturally when soap is made is often removed to be sold to use in other products. When the glycerine is removed, our skin can be left feeling dry and irritated, and then additional products are needed to re-moisturise our skin. The beauty of the traditional cold process method that we use to make our natural soap is that it is made with skin-loving oils, such as coconut oil, sweet almond oil and olive oil and the natural by-product of glycerine that forms during the soap making process is retained. This creates a wonderfully nourishing and moisturising soap.

When developing BrambleWood, it was crucial that the packaging was eco-friendly. In a world where there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050, I wanted to create a range of products that could be part of the change in driving new, zero-waste packaging concepts forward. With all our products we strive to be plastic free and where possible we recycle our postal packaging and boxes.

Another key aspect of creating a natural, eco-friendly brand was to ensure that all our products are cruelty free. Our products are only ever tested on humans, I test each product myself, and then a lovely willing group of friends and family get roped in to try the latest recipe and give their honest feedback! We do not test any of products on animals and always ensure that our suppliers who we source the raw ingredients from are also cruelty free.

 

How involved are you in the creative process?

I adore the alchemy of creating new products and I take a great deal of pride in creating all the recipes and branding concepts myself.

To create the finished products, it is a family affair. I make each BrambleWood product by hand in our country kitchen and I have the incredible help and support of my husband and parents with the labelling, wrapping and packing. My two little boys love to help me pick the botanicals in garden; my four-year-old especially enjoys suggesting new mixtures of dandelions and daisies that could be used in ‘mummy’s soaps’.

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Has living in Dorset had an influence on the products?

Our family are incredibly lucky to live in Dorset, which is such a beautiful part of the world. We relocated back to Dorset from London three years ago and through being surrounded by nature each day, I became inspired to create a product that would capture the beauty of the countryside that surrounds us. Our garden is filled with lavender, calendula and roses which influenced the first soaps I developed and I still love to use these home-grown botanicals to decorate the soaps.

 

How has the product range grown since the company’s inception?

The range started with just three soaps but it soon became apparent that there was a desire from our customers to have additional scents and also an extended range of natural, eco-friendly skin care. I grew the range to include moisturising bath fizzies that are filled with nourishing cocoa butter to create a wonderful at-home spa experience, and I then extended the range further to include soothing botanical bath teas. I have some wonderfully exciting new products in development which will be launching before Christmas. How has lockdown affected the business?

Our business has had to make some significant adjustments as a result of lockdown. Due to the cancellation of summer shows and fairs and the loss of face-to-face sales with our customers, we brought forward our plans for online marketing and enlisted the help of an incredible local photographer. We launched our website at the beginning of May and it has been wonderful to see how many of our customers are repeat purchasing.

We have also significantly grown the wholesale side of the business and are delighted to now be working with fantastic retailers both locally and further afield.

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What are the future plans for BrambleWood?

I would love to start offering workshops to be able to teach others about the wonderful natural, and plastic free products that can make yourself at home. Unfortunately, lockdown has slightly delayed these plans but they are very much in the pipeline – watch this space!

I have also created some delicious new festive scents and gift options which will be launching in the next couple of months.

 

  • Living readers can enjoy a 15 per cent discount on all purchases from the Bramblewood Soap Company website, using code: DORSETLIVING
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bramblewoodsoap.co.uk