From professional gardener to conscientious creator of skin-loving balms packed with hardworking natural ingredients and green credentials - this maker has recently made a daring transition.
Amanda Jones, founder and creator behind The Little Balm Co., introduces us to her new venture and lets us into the trials and triumphs of starting a new business.
I have always worked with plants; I started my career as a Gardener. I have many interests and have done various courses ranging from Beekeeping, Western Herbal Medicine, Garden Design, Permaculture to Bach Flower Remedies. I discovered Forest School when volunteering in my children’s forest school in Ham Common Woods about ten years ago. I am now a qualified Forest School Leader for five days looking after 3-4 yrs and 4-5 yrs. I love my career; recently, I needed to find something that I could do from home. I have been making my own balms for myself, friends, and family for over 20 years and decided after doing many inspirational foraging courses that I should trust in my own skills.
The spark that started the committed journey into the unknown, was when I was celebrating by the fire with friends. We had tested out some forest school skills and made a balm with Beeswax and Vegetable Oil in a rudimentary way on the fire, later my friend told me that she had never used a balm that had worked so well. That was when I thought I should believe in the ability of Beeswax and its’ natural properties.
I tried making some balms at Christmas to sell for the Church and School funds. I had good feedback from the consumers and decided that whilst I had some time at home, I should aim to set up as a business by March 2021. If successful, it would hopefully give me more opportunity and flexibility for the future.
I had help from another friend who was at home more, who not only encouraged me, she used her good administrative skills to help me to create a suitable manufacturing procedure and looked at my policies to give me meaningful feedback.
My main inspiration has been the people who have bought the products and given me good feedback, friends who have encouraged, offered advice, passed on skills to me. Also, I remind myself that it is a good product by using and enjoying the balms myself.
I wanted to retain my green credentials and, so I only delivered to the UK, making packaging either recyclable or compostable. With the balms, I avoided using preservatives and ingredients that are overly processed. I use only pure essential oils to fragrance the balms, which contain plant oils that have a wealth of goodness for the senses and the physical body.
I use only Unrefined Shea Butter to retain all the Vitamin E goodness. I have loved making a product that feels like a treat to use, instantly moisturising and working well left on the skin.
I love using natural materials that work well, and knowing that if the shops are closed, we could stride out into nature and gather plants ourselves to create our own remedies and give our bodies sustenance. I realised pretty quickly, that I gain inspiration from selling balms through charities and community organisations. The idea of a percentage of the profit helping a good cause and having green credentials is a good motivator, and I get to meet other well-meaning, supportive, creative types of people.
The hardest part of setting up was the safety and legal aspect, being familiar with this and ensuring consumer safety, file keeping and making decisions about online security and deciding not to promote social media on my website.
I also had to make a website and label using technology that I had not used before. This was great when it was working; however, troubleshooting when things go wrong can take time and can be frustrating, which is where online tutorials became really useful.
I have learnt that if you ask people to do things for you, it can cost a lot, be less empowering, and be much more frustrating when you need to fix it in the long run. With this in mind, I tried to develop the skills I needed to maintain the day to day running of a business and realised it’s best to do the homework, prepare and persevere with learning new skills myself. We all learn in different ways and at different pace.
Anita Roddick from The Body Shop always sleeps on difficult decisions. I also try to give my mind a rest. Things always look different in the morning!
I have found making lists helps. I get there eventually by prioritising each item on the list. It is a good feeling when everything is ticked off, and I can get things moving in a good direction.
I feel that kindness should start at home. It has been great for me to garden with volunteers at the church and to litter pick the local woodland or help with planting in the local area. I lead a busy life, I have discovered that by doing what I love, I give myself the best gift of all, autonomy and independence.
So far, Makers United have helped provide me with motivation and confidence through their support, by having an interest in myself and my products. It’s good to have found a platform that cares and wants to support and connect people.
May the community long continue to support each other. It is a very empowering experience to create something worth using and that works well or is simply beautiful to the senses and makes a wonderful gift for someone special in our lives. It also means that money is created at the heart of where it is needed.