Rhug Estate Organic Farm has an enviable reputation as a producer of high quality, home bred organic meat with global appeal. Now, its owner, Lord Newborough, has his sights set on on the growing organic beauty market, writes Michael Wale.
For many years Lord Newborough has championed his home-bred, farmed and produced organic meat in countries as far apart as Macau, Singapore and the Middle East.
So what prompted him to enter the organic beauty market? He recalls: “One day when I was walking down the drive, I wondered what else I could do. I thought, ‘what else on the estate can we do something with’? The beauty concept fulfilled that and that brand just grew as an idea over the year. It is an organic and natural showcase range using as many of the ingredients from the estate as we can. So we started talking to people who already were involved in skincare. We also talked with one or two local bodies about it. But we weren’t really getting the right feeling we wanted”.
It was then that he thought about consulting a close friend who had previously co-founded the highly successful premium mixer brand Fever Tree.
Just the tonic
There was a slight irony to this conversation, in that many years before the same two men had met and Lord Newborough was asked what he thought of his friend starting a new company that would make tonic water. He now admits: “I told him that he must be mad taking on Schweppes, and strongly advised him against starting Fever Tree. But look what has happened!”.
His friend, now considerably wealthier on the success of Fever Tree, advised him to go ahead with his organic beauty products idea, believing there was a place in the market for just such a product.
Clare Hennigan is a senior beauty analyst at Mintel identifying key trends and developing insights impacting the beauty landscape. She points out that Covid-19 has increased demand for safe beauty and personal care products. Moreover, the natural movement continues to shape the beauty industry as users become more conscious of the ingredients in beauty products and actively seek out safe and clean alternatives. However, efficacy is also front-of-mind, with more than one third of users agreeing that they care more about the effectiveness of a product than the ingredients it uses.
It is the ingredients in his product that Lord Newborough really enthuses about. He reels off a list of botanicals that come from the wildness of the Rhug estate. He says : “The brand’s integrity depends on wild foraged, picked by hand ingredients like heather, meadow sweet gorse, elderflower, dandelion, lemon balm, nettle leaf, hawthorn, all helped along with water fresh from aquifers beneath the land, honey from bees who gather nectar from plants across the estate, as well as the beeswax they produce”
Everything is then carefully concentrated and formulated, before being bottled in responsibly sourced bottles made from frosted glass and sourced from a specialist company in Norfolk.
The easing of the strict Covid-19 lockdown could not have come at a better time, although Wales continues to apply a rule limiting travel within the Principality to just five miles, which Lord Newborough has found quite difficult, explaining: “In North Wales it is mainly countryside, so that is a very short distance”. He plans to sell his new beauty products in the highly successful Rhug Estate farm shop. And in normal circumstances people are willing to travel many miles to get there.
Lord Newborough has been a lifelong believer in producing farm grown and reared organic food and produce. Wild Beauty now widens out that thinking. His is keen to share with others what he and his team have learned along their journey. “Especially why it is so important to choose organic and natural products in your daily skincare routines”. And he spells out some of the reasons why making a decision to choose organic and natural is better.
“Organic and natural products are much kinder on the skins. They are often richer in nutrients and antioxidants and don’t have any of the harsh, synthetic chemicals found in many of the alternatives, which are known to cause skin irritation and dehydration. Natural and organic products are also much safer for you.”
He continues: “Natural and organic products are better for the environment, more sustainable and have greater respect for biodiversity. In other words good for us and the planet”.
He expresses real pride that the Wild Beauty products are certified COSMOS Natural and COSMOS Organic by the Soil Association.
Development work on the Wild Beauty range was able to be continued throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact it was only in March that Lord Newborough travelled to Dubai where he lined up a distributor for the United Arab Emirates. He was welcomed by representatives for Wales at the British Embassy. He also talked with a major online player in Singapore, which also has reach into Australia and New Zealand.
As for other markets, he revealed: “John Bell & Croyden (which promotes itself as “pharmacists to Her Majesty The Queen”) has signed up. So has Selfridges, and discussions are also talking place with Harvey Nicholls and Harrods.”
But certain big changes covering the launch of the Wild Beauty range have had to be made because of the effects on the market of the current virus.
There will be what he refers to as a ‘soft’ launch in July following the launch of a website, and a bigger launch in person will be made in September. One big change that has had to be dropped is the presence of ‘testers’ in the stores, because of Government rules covering how retailers must operate for the foreseeable future.
But that is a minor irritant to a product he feels sure is destined for success.