fbpx
Skip navigation

Beauty Kitchen is on a mission to create the most effective, natural and sustainable beauty products globally. They believe that small changes make a significant impact – and every product in their award-winning range was designed with sustainability at its heart.  In the UK over 95% of beauty packaging is thrown away after just one use. Beauty kitchen wants to change that and has pioneered a groundbreaking RETURN • REFILL • REPEAT programme to encourage their customers to reuse packaging.

Beauty Kitchen – Jo Chidley 

Introduction 

My name is Jo Chidley and I’m the cofounder of Beauty Kitchen, which is based in Wishaw, North Lanarkshire. We are an independent beauty brand that does skincare, bath and body. One of the points of difference is that the effectiveness of our products comes from the natural ingredients. Alongside that, we are one of the highest scoring B Corps in the world. All of our products are Cradle-to-Cradle certified, which is quite unusual. 

What steps has your organisation taken to improve nature-based solutions?  

An example of this is our Seahorse plankton range made using microalgaes. This a regenerative process. As the microalgae are growing, they act as a bioreactor, absorbing CO2, and releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere. This process also releases energy, which is supplied back to the grid as electricity. We’re going through the data analytics of that just now to be able to demonstrate what that gives back in terms of regeneration. 

Packaging can be quite a water intensive process. However, we have reusable packaging which means our water consumption is reduced. Our business is designed to give back and we donate 2% of our sales to a variety of different organisations. Some of them include the Sea Horse Trust, the Plastic Soup Foundation and Ziwa Rhino Nature Based Solutions in Uganda. 

This facial oil contains 2% of our microalgaes. We are currently working on carbon data reporting about how regenerative this particular product is in terms of offsetting its own manufacturing. And that’s just thinking more on a circular business model than a linear business model.  

We bring together ingredients that are not only good for your skin topically, but are actually good for your wellbeing in terms of the scent and the knowledge where those ingredients have come from and their regenerative status. 

What drove you to take these steps and how does this align to the purpose of your organisation? 

When you are in a business and you are making something, whether a product or service, there seems to be a lot of waste associated with it. I believe the reason for that is linear businesses are driven solely through the lens of profit. I just didn’t feel that that was the right thing.  

I feel that there’s a symbiotic relationship between people, planet, and profit, and some people talk about that as the triple bottom line. It’s not that you ignore profit as a commercial organisation, but that isn’t the only lens that you look through. Looking through only one lens, you create a monoculture. Whereas when you create the diversity of looking through the lens of your stakeholders and also then examining the planet aspect: who is your electricity supplier? Is it a renewable supplier? We have a lot of considerations because we manufacture products and there are elements that impact the planet from a resource perspective. 

If you create that diversity within your business, you have a much more powerful message; not just for your customers, but a much more solid base for your business to grow. Helping to future-proof your business. 

When I look at the natural world, I like to view it like a bank balance. If you are taking something from that resource you have to find another way of giving it back. This may not necessarily mean giving back in a like-for-like scenario. For instance, we are not farmers, but we do take ingredients that come from farmland. This means we need to think of other ways to be able to regenerate resources and feed that back into the loop. This might be something as simple as the types of ingredients that we are asking our farmers to produce to ensure that there is biodiversity. 

What have the benefits been for your business? 

Firstly, we know that we will always have a consistent supply chain as we are restoring and regenerating the materials that we use in production.   

And a lot of the time it’s relatively easy to engage with people. If you ask anyone “do they want to be more sustainable?” the answer is going to be yes. The challenge is how do you then convert that into making those sustainable swaps. How do you communicate to ensure that you help people on their journey to sustainability, irrespective of where they’re starting from? 

We regard ourselves as being a very inclusive business. It’s about including everyone on their sustainable journey and finding out what matters to them. 

How easy and affordable was it to take these steps? 

Like anything, we view any changes within our business as return on investment. But that return on investment must look through the three lenses of people, planet and profit and not just the profit element. The other aspect is the return on investment focused on the longer-term changes that we have to make. Try not to do too many things at once or you can run the risk of destroying the initial enthusiasm that you maybe have to make those sustainable changes. 

I would recommend engaging with other businesses and talk to other people that have maybe made other steps. They will perhaps give you advice on some of the things they did that work well and the things that did not work well. 

The big one for me is renewable energy. Every business and every person on this planet uses electricity in some format and in some way. It’s therefore important to know who your suppliers are and how they produce your energy. 

What do you wish you knew when you started down this route? 

Making sure our energy suppliers were providing renewable energy. We didn’t necessarily know who our electricity supplier was – well we did when we set it up, but we weren’t really thinking that that would have the greatest impact. We thought what we were doing as a business would make the biggest difference, but actually who supplies to you as a business is just as important as who you supply to. 

As a chemist, I found that natural ingredients are the first chemicals that we used before we started making things that were man made. I’m a big believer in understanding what my formulations are and where do I want to focus on. We use a variety of different ingredients that we’ve focused on, ingredients that I’m personally passionate about, and that create this regenerative process in actuality. For me, it’s about understanding what you’re passionate about in terms of ingredients and how can you utilise those ingredients as your point of difference for your particular business. 

What skills have you had to grow within your organization to adapt your business? And did you get advice to help you get started on this work?  

We have engaged with the Edge Fund, which we won back in 2014. We’ve been on business gateway programmes, Scottish Enterprise programmes, we’ve used the Nat West Accelerator alongside many other things. The important aspect is not only creating that network but understanding that that ecosystem is there for you to be action orientated. It’s not something that you can be passive about.  

As an SME, there are a lot of challenges that occur in any one day. It’s important to understand which one should take priority and then what are you trying to unlock? In some cases and at some points in time, that has been financial, or technical skills, and at other points it’s been mentoring, coaching and networking. This really depends where you are in a business to be able to access support, but I do believe that Scotland has great access to support schemes. My experience with SCDI, for example, has shown the range of businesses that you can tap into for their experience, and I think that’s a great place to start. 

Any advice for SMEs looking to do something similar for nature-based solutions?  

Understand what nature-based solutions mean to you as an individual and as a business. This should help define which approach to take. Nature-based solutions can be defined in different ways by different people, you have to define it for yourself first and foremost. The location in which we operate, combined with the creative ways we think of beauty helps to set us apart. The majority of beauty businesses in the UK are based in London and I think it’s proof that you don’t necessarily need to be in London to have a very creative business.  

However, some of the problems that you’re then trying to solve are not just about business, but societal. Our location in Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, has a high unemployment rate as well as a lack of workforce diversity. We feel we have an opportunity to be able to tackle some of these underlying challenges in a particular area.  

Discover how the Business Purpose Commission for Scotland is nurturing purposeful businesses which make a positive impact on economic prosperity, social wellbeing and environmental sustainability.

Where to find help button

 

Close Mobile Menu