Welcome to the third installment of the new Meet the Maker interviews, a series of questions and answers with some of the faces behind the brands that make a big impact on our beauty routines. It is great to find products that can transform our beauty regimes for the better but I wanted to find out more about the people behind the brands and discover what motivates them to formulate the products within their ranges. 

For our third edition of Meet the Maker, I’d like to introduce Nudge Boutique’s founder Jo, a pioneer for age-positive beauty. Jo has a passion for creating products that help to ‘nudge’ women of all ages towards nourished skin and hair through the use of plant-based beauty products. The brand is incredibly Earth conscious in their approach to skin and haircare, eradicating as much plastic as possible in their packaging to reflect their love of the natural world that provides all we need to look and feel our best on the outside, as well as promote an overall sense of wellbeing. 

I have been a Nudge Boutique customer for quite a while now and have recently just become their brand ambassador. It is an honour to share Jo’s passion and dedication to age-less beauty and showcase their incredible product range that is both affordable and eco-friendly.

Emma: Hi Jo, thank you so much for featuring on Meet the Maker. Firstly, I’d like to ask you about your own green beauty journey. Have you always had an interest in natural beauty?

Jo: Thank you for featuring my brand Emma, it is such a lovely honour! 

My passions led me to become a Fitness Instructor and Weight Loss trainer before graduating in Counselling and Psychotherapy. I was also busy running coaching and training programs to help women develop healthier dating relationships, so that they could meet their ideal match. During 2012, I was developing a marketing campaign to offer pampering kits alongside my courses. I discovered a natural beauty brand that was offering a private label service, which suited my concept.  The brand owner sent lots of lovely samples to test out, and from that moment on, I fell in love with natural beauty!  

Just to give you some context, I was in my early forties, so one might consider I was a late arrival to the green beauty movement. Up until then, I was using mainstream products, some of which irritated my skin and none of them performed or felt as gorgeous as natural beauty products. Despite my late arrival, I think in some ways I came into the beauty industry right on time. Mental health, fitness and nutrition all play significant roles in developing healthy skin, so I am excited that my background, knowledge and experience in these areas can be transitioned into creating a holistic approach to skin care.

Emma: I love the fact that you discovered natural beauty later in life – it just shows that it is never too late to discover something new. What inspired you to start formulating your own skincare and creating Nudge Boutique

Jo: As much as I enjoyed my Counselling and Training practice, after 16 years of service, I was reaching a point where I knew I needed a change. I would never have guessed in a million years that my marketing campaign would reveal a passion for natural beauty or unleash a creativity that I never even knew I had! I guess you can say natural beauty found me!

I felt an incredible urge to start formulating, so I tried a few online recipes and enjoyed it so much, that I decided to take up professional training. Since then I have been on many courses, including those in soap, perfume, bath, hair and organic skin care formulation. One of the courses I completed was an anti-ageing skincare course, but the word ‘anti-ageing’ didn’t appeal to me. I am in my early fifties and I have a couple of college friends who I meet up with from time to time. You know, we never meet to beat ourselves up about getting older, in fact, we almost pee our pants laughing about our changing bodies, reading glasses, laughter lines, hot flushes and forgetfulness! 

Between us, we are running around taking care of ageing parents, teenagers, grandchildren, studying and holding down demanding jobs. Sometimes we need ‘permission’ or little ‘nudges’ to put ourselves on the map and take some time out for a little pampering and restoration. This becomes more necessary when we are afflicted by menopausal symptoms. I wanted to create a brand for women like us. Something that focused on skin solutions, creating a feel-good factor from using nature’s finest ingredients and focusing on positive ageing.   

Emma: It is great to hear a brand with an age positive ethos! What are the main challenges you face as a formulator of natural skincare products?

Jo: I had no idea that becoming an Organic Skincare formulator would be the most challenging and rewarding job I have ever done. For example, there is a lot of cosmetic information floating around on the internet that is not backed by science, so it takes a lot more time and effort to do your research to ensure product safety and that customers are receiving the correct information.

Formulations do not always work out they way you hoped; ingredients are often difficult to source, plus there are lots of regulations you have to know and abide by before you are in a position to launch a product. Packaging and design can often be a headache. It is difficult to source eco-friendly options, and I wish more manufacturers and suppliers would offer smaller minimum order quantities for smaller businesses.

Finally, it would have been easier to outsource manufacturing, but I enjoy doing it and learning every aspect of the business inside out. It can be difficult balancing the many aspects of the business, but I would not have it any other way.

Emma: People may have noticed that you use Saffron petals/flowers in your skincare – an ingredient that you don’t see utilised very often – how did you discover their benefits and why use something that is so unique?

Jo: I was researching botanical ingredients that helped brighten skin, and I wanted to pamper my intended customers with something a little exotic. I started reading up on the benefits of Saffron, which has been used for centuries to care for the skin. In fact, Cleopatra use to bathe in saffron and goat’s milk!

I was not aware that Saffron was grown in Norfolk until I read that Norfolk Saffron was going to attend a local Christmas Gift fair. I was surprised to learn there was a Saffron grower right here in Norfolk, so I contacted the owner Sally about using her product in my range. I am glad she was excited about the possibility as I was!

When I met up with Sally, she told me that after she had removed the Saffron, the left-over Crocus flower was used as compost. This is common practice across the world, but Sally wanted to know if I could come up with a more noble end for her precious blooms.I jumped at the opportunity, but it soon became obvious that Saffron flowers are not used very often in cosmetics, even though they have similar compounds to the spice. So, I contacted my Safety Assessor who carried out some research on my behalf and confirmed they were on the EU list of ingredients and safe to use in cosmetics.

Working with an ingredient that is not utilised very often in cosmetics was a step of faith. But, as so many of our natural resources are under threat of over consumption, I felt it was important to be innovative, try out new things and see if I could give a discarded resource a second life. 

As a result, I was able to launch Saffron Glow Cleansing Clay Mask. Once activated with water, the flowers release their anti-oxidants. The mask turns a beautiful avatar blue, and it helps contribute to leaving the skin feeling balanced and refreshed. I also champion being unique. Our beauty is not trying to be like everyone else, but by embracing our gifts and abilities and using them to make a positive impact in the world. I genuinely believe that when we want to do good, life offers us unique opportunities to do just that.

Emma: Talking of ingredients, what are your top three favorite ingredients to work with and why?

Jo: Firstly Saffron, it is so versatile. Despite its expense, it is very potent, and you only need a small amount to release its water and oil soluble compounds into your formulations. It is rich in Carotenoids, which when applied topically helps brighten the skin. There has also been some fantastic research carried out which suggests this little thread has amazing mood boosting powers. Saffron was also voted the No.1 Superfood in 2019. I love using it in smoothies and rice dishes, and I recently learned that the hottest new trend is swapping out coffee for a Saffron Latte. I am going to give it a try soon!

Secondly, Murumuru butter. It is an intense natural moisturiser and a powerful skin barrier repair agent. It also helps the skin to retain water by creating a protective film for dry skin.It gained the nickname ‘nature’s natural silicone’, and I am not surprised. It is such a silky butter. I use it in my whipped butters as it helps improve the glide on the skin, and its brilliant to use on its own as a hair serum too. 

Thirdly, Prickly Pear Seed Oil. It is fantastic at combating dry skin by improving hydration and preventing water loss to the skin.I love the fragrance of this gorgeous oil; and it absorbs into the skin effortlessly. It is considered one of the most expensive oils in the world, and I have matched it with the most expensive spice in the world. I just think they go hand in hand beautifully.

Emma: What is your current go-to product from your range and why?

Jo: Saffron Glow Facial Oil Serum. I used to have a large sun spot on my nose and darkened patches on my forehead, which spread a little bit more with every passing summer. I was simply paying the cost of spending too much time in the sun without skin protection in my twenties.  

Saffron Glow is extremely high in carotenoids, and since I started using it about 3 years ago, my skin has become brighter and the sunspot has disappeared. I have also noticed that the rate of sun damaged has slowed down. (I just need to point out it is not a sunscreen).I also have very dry skin, especially across my T-zone, and Saffron Glow gives it long lasting nourishment. I do not use anything else on my skin.

Emma: It is certainly a great serum! What would be your desert island product or non-beauty item?

Jo: Hey, this girl cannot live without her chocolate. I like trying out locally made ones, so off the top of my head, I would like to discover a hidden stash of 70% dark chocolate bars, all made by different local makers. Dark chocolate is full of anti-oxidants, so my skin would be happy. Plus, with a good calorie content, I may just stay alive until I am rescued! lol

Emma: A woman after my own heart! Finally, what products would you love to add to your range in the future?

Jo: I have a few products lined up that I am itching to get to market. A new product is joining my Saffron range, and eco-friendly solid bars, but I do not want to spoil the surprise and say exactly what these products will be.

Thanks Jo for taking the time to feature on Meet the Maker, it has been great to find out more about you and your lovely brand.

To find out more about Nudge Boutique’s product range, head over to www.nudgeboutique.co.uk  where you can get 15% off your order with the code Beautyfolio152020. You can also find all my Nudge Boutique reviews here if you fancy a read.

Don’t forget to join us next time when I will be talking to another founder of one of my favourite skincare brands.

Take Care,

Emma @ Beauty Folio x

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