Meet the Maker: Shalom Lloyd and Hannah White, Naturally Tribal Skincare
Welcome to Hope and Story's Meet the Maker Series, where we chat to some of the people behind our favourite independent British brands.
Shalom Lloyd and Hannah White, Naturally Tribal Skincare
Naturally Tribal Skincare is a proudly British skincare brand born from personal experience with purpose and impact in its DNA.
I chatted to the founder Shalom Lloyd and marketing manager Hannah White over a cuppa and got to know a little bit more about their story and how Naturally Tribal is so much more than a skincare company - they are women on a mission to create real change in the world and that's something we wholeheartedly want to be a part of.
Shalom, can you explain for anyone not lucky enough to have come across Naturally Tribal before what it is that you do?
Shalom: 'Let me start by saying I am really proud to be a part of this Meet The Maker series because we are a proudly British brand. This company was started first of all with my hat on as a mum. I am a pharmacist by qualification and I completely understand the value of medicines in our lives but after going through four cycles (yes, four cycles) of IVF I finally got pregnant with my twins, Amara and Joshua. Joshua was born with severe eczema which he scratched until he bled.
As a mum, all I wanted to do was strip this pain away from my newborn and I wanted to do that as naturally as possible. It wasn't because I was 'at one with nature' or anything like that, it was just simply because I had been pumped with chemicals myself after all the IVF. I finally had my kids, the last thing I wanted to do was put more chemicals on them. He was prescribed emollients and steroids which I did use for a while, but it's not sustainable for a newborn.
So, I started mixing in my kitchen. I went a bit crazy trying to look for any lotions, potions, teas... anyone who's gone through this will know exactly what I mean. I used Shea Butter as a base, primarily because it was an ingredient I have known since I was a young girl. It's an amazing ingredient that's an occlusive [protects the skin], humectant [retains moisture] and emollient [softens the skin] all in one, it's used in the food industry - most of the chocolate we eat has Shea Butter. So, I mixed in my kitchen, stumbled across the Eureka formula and within three days Joshua's skin became what it should have been from birth. That was the start of Naturally Tribal Skincare'
Wow, so you combined your medical background and personal experience to help so many people with skin conditions.
Shalom: 'It's taught me a lot. 900 million people on this planet have some form of skin condition. In the UK, the NHS will spend over £700m per year on skin conditions. So it's a huge topic that we don't talk about which really impacts mental health. But, I am pleased to say that Josh is doing good!'
How much of an influence is your African heritage on the ingredients you use?
Shalom: 'I pay homage to my dual heritage - both African and British. Everyone talks about 'clean beauty' and 'green beauty'. I grew up in an African family where there was a cure for everything. If you had a fever, my grandmother would shove a bitter kola [a natural nut] in your mouth. Shea Butter was something that was used on us as kids. We grew up with amazing skin and I knew it's properties - reducing inflammation, redness etc. so it was a natural default for me and it became the base of all my products. My African Heritage has a lot to do with this brand.
Also, I am a control freak! I want to know exactly where this ingredient is coming from. I don't want to say 'we donate this much to charity'. No, we went to the Kingdom of Essan in Nigeria, we built a factory there on sixteen acres of land where we process the Shea Butter. We are employing African women and empowering African women. We are then bringing the Shea Butter in the UK to manufacture, formulate, test and package proudly here in the UK.'
Shea Butter forms the base ingredient of the Naturally Tribal range
So you are not just talking the talk when it comes to ethical and sustainable manufacturing..
Shalom: 'When you talk about traceability - we can trace our main ingredient back to source. When you talk about empowerment - we can show you all the women we are empowering by selling our products. When you talk about diversity which is everywhere at the moment - our products know no race, no gender, no skin type, no skin tone, no sexual orientation, no disability. They are genuinely for everyone.'
We love your mission: 'To become a sustainable business built on ethical sourcing, innovation, empowerment and love for our planet, on a mission to become the leading indie skincare brand that inspires everyone to love their skin, naturally!' How important to you is it that your business operates in a sustainable and ethical manner?
Hannah: 'I think it's incredibly important. There is increasing demand from consumers for ethical businesses and a lot of companies tend to 'green wash' people and when you dig a little deeper you find their claims can't be backed up. For us, we pride ourselves on being authentic and honest with all of our customers. We have put our money where our mouth is and worked hard to build this brand on our ethics and sustainability.
Shalom You've built an incredible business since your initial concept in 2014 through to it's public launch in 2018. People often a-liken running a start-up to riding a roller coaster with extreme high's and heavy lows. Would you agree?
Shalom: 'I'm not going to sit here and say it has been easy. It has been hardcore, particularly because we wanted to do things right from day one. When we first launched we were in plastic jars. I had to stop and ask myself 'If I am really going out there preaching all this stuff, how can I be killing the planet? So we moved to glass jars. In 2018 we became the company I had always wanted us to be. It's baby steps, we still have a long way to go, but I can hand on heart say in 2018 we found our three legs, our three pillars, which are:
1. Efficacy: products that work, naturally.
2. Ethical sourcing
3. Planet hugging: everything we do has to hug our planet.
You mentioned it has been pretty hardcore. Have you had any instances where you have found it particularly tough? And on the flip side, some 'wow, I can't believe this is happening' moments?
Hannah: 'In terms of a high, we recently launched in Harrods which was a real pinch-me moment. I sent an email off to them and thought 'OK, let's see if we hear back'. I got a reply and called Shalom who ended up dancing around the kitchen because we were just so excited! We had to keep it quiet for quite a while and couldn't tell anyone which was tough but launched in April this year. There's definitely been lows, but they are eclipsed by the highs'
Shalom: 'I couldn't agree more with Hannah. In the life of an entrepreneur, no two days are the same. You have some great highs and some great lows. Some days where you think 'You know what, I am going back to a 9-5, I don't want to do this anymore'. But then you get messages from customers who say 'your product has done this to my skin, helped my mother, my sister, myself'. They pick their timing because they seem to come in when we are at a low! Or I get messages from someone out in Essan [Nigeria] who has managed to pay her children's school fees because we have employed her. It's moments like this where I think, let's carry on because we are making an impact. When we say that we do have purpose and impact in our DNA, we really do.'
The company's original name was Naturally Nuts. Why did this change?
Shalom: (laughs) 'There's a really logical explanation. I love the name Naturally Nuts. I know Hannah doesn't, but I do! I feel like everybody who works in this company is a nutter, we are a bunch of crazy people who like to have fun. But also, the foundation of our products is a Shea Butter, It's a nut from the Shea Tree. But having spoken to other mothers, if you have the word 'nut' in your name it can spark alarm bells for lots of people with allergies, so we had to change it.'
How important do you think it is to your customers that your products are made in the UK?
Hannah: 'I think it's been very important. When a brand is made in the UK it is synonymous with quality. Our customers from not just the UK but all over the world know that we are made in the UK and expect a level of quality from us which they get'
Shalom: 'There were some key things that happened that made us very proud to make our product in Britain. In 2017, we were chosen as Commonwealth First Export Champions out of 100 innovative SMEs [Small Medium sized Enterprises] which was fantastic. Then last year we were chosen as UK Department of International Trade Export Champions. So, we feel we are flying the flag. We are proud to be made in the UK, it shows our quality.'
How has your business been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Shalom: 'COVID hit us like everybody else. We had so plans to launch in prominent stores which were put on hold so we had to quickly refocus to online sales. We re-branded last year as well, everyone thought we were crazy. So, it's been tough.
One thing that 2020 and the last year has showed us all is how important it is to look after ourselves. There's been so much talk about our planet, about our mental health, about sustainability, about traceability. We stood back and said 'We've been doing all this from day one'. We started donating our products to NHS staff because they have anti-septic and antibacterial properties which helped them after the excessive hand-washing they had to do. So, it was tough and we are still rising from the ashes now, but we are still here!'
What's in store for you over the next twelve months?
Hannah: 'We have some new stockists coming on board and we have some new products which we are currently testing, hopefully they will launch very soon'
Finally, what attracted you to work with Hope and Story?
Hannah: 'The luxury and the quality that came across on your site. We are very particular with our stockists because we have worked so hard on our own brand and the look of our products so for us that was really important. Also, there was a lot of alignment in Hope and Story's values and pushing the ethical and sustainable side which is so important to us, as well as brands Made In Britain'
Find out more about Naturally Tribal Skincare and shop the range
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