A North Tyneside entrepreneur has taken inspiration from her plastic-free life to launch a range of artisan soaps and in the process, been picked to feature in a one-off Fenwick Christmas market, thanks to help from the North Tyneside Business Factory.
Flying high with her new spot at Fenwick Newcastle, Andrea Beattie from North Shields did not set out to become an artisan maker of natural cosmetic products. Whilst working full time in marketing, Andrea began searching for natural and plastic-free alternatives to everyday bathroom essentials and in the process, came across instructions for making soap. Inspired by the idea of creating her own products to use at home, Andrea began experimenting with different ingredients and natural oils – not realising she was in fact creating a new business.
Andrea Beattie comments: “Even though I find myself with a spot at Fenwick, the business started out as a personal hobby after I discovered how much I enjoyed creating different soaps for myself, family and friends. Where I started and how far I’ve come seems difficult to comprehend but when friends and family started to enjoy using the soaps I was creating, I thought it was perhaps time to widen the scope of what I was doing and think of my soaps as a potential commercial enterprise.”
Andrea named the business Zenoté – a Myan word inspired by her travels in Mexico – and with the support of her husband, Neil, set about completing a range of qualifications and courses required for the production of cosmetics.
Andrea continues: “Creating soaps to sell to the public is a different prospect to private cosmetics as they need to meet certain guidelines to be safe to use. Although I use only natural ingredients, I completed a number of quite detailed courses to learn more about the legalities of creating cosmetics safe to sell to the public. There was a great deal to learn and it was important to understand how different combinations of ingredients can be used from a safety perspective. It certainly made it clearer in my head how I wanted to formulate the brand as an artisan creator from the outset.”
With six initial soaps in the range including an activated charcoal, pink clay and lavender, organic oat milk and orange and ginger, Andrea began creating platforms to sell Zenoté products at various different artisan markets and outlets which matched her brand ethos.
Andrea continues: “Trying to be plastic-free has become a priority for increasing numbers of people in 2020. The bathroom can actually be one of the worst offenders for excessive plastic waste and more are returning to soaps for everything from face and body wash to shampoo and conditioner for the hair. I’m currently developing a range of hair shampoos but my face and body soaps are currently stocked at a number of regional shops, including one of my first and biggest supporters – Buy the Kilo in Tynemouth station.
“Buy the Kilo have been great from day one and as well as supporting my range, they’ve also helped promote the business as much as possible. The support of local stockists is vitally important to any artisan maker but I’ve also been selling via various local markets which have been running virtually throughout lockdown. It was actually through one of the virtual markets that Alex Nicholson, who runs North East Eats and Treats got in touch about the Fenwicks local supplier market being organised in the run up to Christmas. Thanks to her introduction, I will now have my own stall at the Fenwick Newcastle market in their basement from the 4th to the 14th December. It’s a huge step for my business and a great way for a small, new local business such as myself to get in front of a new audience. I can’t thank Fenwick enough for the opportunity!”
Andrea worked with The North Tyneside Business Factory, the business support programme from North Tyneside Council supported by the ERDF, to devise her business plan and get Zenoté ready to launch. Thanks to the support of her personal business advisor, Paul Brown, Andrea was able to access a range of specialist consultancy, advice and free online workshops. With so much to consider in the initial phases of launching a business, Andrea was delighted to find the kind of business and enterprise support she needed from the Business Factory to run her through every aspect of creating a successful new enterprise.
Paul Brown, TEDCO and Business Factory Advisor commented: “Andrea was able to access a range of support through the business factory to help her get started with Zenoté. Whilst she had the products, the knowledge and the contacts, she also needed to learn the basics of running and launching a business. Through the Business Factory, Andrea was able to attend our regular workshops on everything from filing tax returns to social media advertising as well as one-to-one business advice and guidance to get her started.
“With such a strong product range and a growing number of stockists interested in her soaps, I see big things for Zenoté in the future and wish Andrea the very best of luck!”