ENTREPENEUR Natalie Dawson has moved her handmade cosmetics business out of her spare room and into her first workshop – with a little help from a Dragon’s Den star.
Natalie launched Awesome Botanical in May last year after making bath bombs as a hobby that helped ease her anxiety and giving herself something to do after being furloughed from her role in her dad’s shopfitting business.
“It was just something I enjoyed doing – keeping myself busy during lockdown. I started to study cosmetics and essential oils – I had always used essential oils to help ease my anxiety and I had a passion to create products that would help other people ease away their stresses.
“I wasn’t expecting the lockdown and Covid restrictions to go on for so long, but as it did I learned a lot about creating scented cosmetics and expanded my range from bath bombs to holistic skincare and whipped soap products.
“I produced some bath bombs and whipped body scrubs for my grandma’s birthday as I thought she needed something extra special after going so long without seeing family. I then gave further samples to other family members and the feedback was ‘awesome.’
“My family persuaded me that my hobby would make a good business, so I launched Awesome Botanical,” she added.
Business was steady, if not spectacular until three factors accelerated Awesome Botanical’s growth.
Natalie explained: “In December 2020 as the shops began to open back up, we were selected to have a pop up shop at the Fenwick Christmas Market. This really was a dream come true, after just six months in business we now had products in the iconic department store. In addition to this, our sweet orange whipped soap was chosen as one of their Fenwick Finds.
“In February this year we had some more good news – our cracked heel balm was shortlisted in the prestigious Top Sante Skincare Awards – alongside some of the world’s biggest skincare brands. That really helped our profile.”
Then in mid September, Natalie received a third massive boost from none other than former Dragon’s Den Theo Paphitis, who chose Awesome Botanicals as a winner in his immensely popular Small Business Sunday (#SBS) competition on Twitter. Theo tweeted about Awesome Botanical to his 500,000 Twitter followers and Natalie watched as her social media presence dramatically increased and orders flooded in.
“Winning #SBS was immense and I’m so grateful to Theo for his support. It’s lovely to think that someone so successful is only too willing to help small businesses. It made a big difference to us,” said Natalie.
Theo said: “My vision is that everyone who has ever won an #SBS re-tweet from me becomes part of a friendly club; like-minded individuals who can share successes and learnings. The website will also give a valuable profile to the winners chosen and I wish Awesome Botanical every success.”
It was after the #SBS win that Natalie, who has a diploma in organic skincare, decided to move the business out of her home and into a ‘proper’ workshop.
“I just didn’t have the space to keep up with orders coming in. I live in Dunston and didn’t want to be too far away from home, and after we’d looked at five or six places we came across Hypoint in Saltmeadows Road in Gateshead. The workshop is the perfect size and the support has been great,” said Natalie.
“I’m looking to grow the brand organically and ethically. We don’t have any overarching parent brands and we don’t import any of our products from abroad. Our holistic skincare, bath bombs and whipped soaps are all handmade here in Gateshead. And we commit ourselves to be cruelty free,” she added.
Natalie is originally from Sheffield and moved to the north east in 2006 to help her dad with his shop outfitting company. She moved into purchasing roles in other companies, gaining valuable experience in procurement, before returning to her dad’s company as Operations Director in 2019.
“I’m hoping to find small, independent local stockists to take my product as well as continuing to supply Fenwicks. I’m happy with the range of products I produce, but I’d like to add to the scents,” she said.
Natalie is currently fulfilling a huge order from a regional hamper company Coastal Hampers North East and is also looking for someone to join her burgeoning business in the production of her scented cosmetics.