Charlotte Figg is co-founder of Purdy & Figg, alongside best friend and business partner Purdy Rubin. The two ladies are both mothers in their sixties with a shared passion for sustainability.
Charlotte previously co-founded the Piper Trust Consumer Insights division, where she was crucial to the successful founding of brands such as Boden, ASDA and Barclays Bank. She is a keen gardener and consulted for the largest online garden nursery Crocus, as well as the National Garden Scheme.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
My background is in consumer research, but I have always been fascinated by plants and their by-products. About 10 years ago, I inherited a somewhat run down garden, kitchen garden and greenhouse. I decided that I needed to learn about horticulture and gardening in order to bring it back to life, so I undertook a year’s vocational training and obtained a RHS qualification in the principles of horticulture.
Purdy & Figg is an eco-cleaning ecommerce brand. We produce beautifully scented, natural products to transform life’s dull chores and necessities into uplifting experiences. We believe that prioritising products that bring you joy can make a real difference to overall wellbeing, whilst also protecting the environment.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
Purdy and I have been making our own natural cleaning products for years after realising how many nasty chemicals and plastic waste there was in traditional cleaning products.
We started hosting workshops for friends to teach them how to make their own natural cleaning products, but we soon realised that what they really wanted was for us to make them for them.
How did you achieve awareness?
We were lucky enough to land several wonderful features in the media which really helped us to spread mass awareness of our hand sanitising sprays. As an e-commerce company, we have always had a strong digital paid media presence which has helped to expand our customer database to over 50,000 customers.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
We are supported by a number of angel investors and have now completed three rounds of fundraising, with our latest round raising £1million. Purdy’s two sons, Charlie and Jack Rubin, came on board as co-CEO’s quite early on to help scale the business from our London office.
What are the key successes?
Hitting a £1million annual turnover within 2 years of trading was a particular milestone for us.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
In the early days, we were producing all products in Purdy’s garage by hand but we quickly realised we needed to scale up and managed to find a local warehouse where we now have our own bottling machine and production line.
What are your plans now/for the future?
We’ve just launched our new limited edition Zingy Spring Counter Clean; our refillable multi surface cleaning spray that can tackle any household cleaning task. This marks the first in a series of seasonal scents designed to elicit specific emotional and physical responses. Our Spring scent has been hand blended to create a sense of renewal and wellbeing; it’s a fresh but warm scent that will really encourage you to get around the house cleaning!
Eventually, we’ll be launching a range of natural products designed to clean your entire home – we’re currently working with our brilliant chemist Dr Anna Slastanova to refine our recipes and test the products, watch this space!
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
It’s never too late to start! As two mothers in our sixties, we are not your typical ‘entrepreneur’ profile, but it’s been the most rewarding and enjoyable experience.
Can you share you top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Identify and focus on your business goals and ethos
It is important to have a clear, easily articulated ethos or goal for your business and what you stand for. For Purdy & Figg, this is our emphasis on minimising the use of toxic chemicals we use in our homes as well as reducing the use of single-use plastics in cleaning products. These two goals feed into our brand mission of transforming the experience of cleaning.
Know your audience
Given my background, I’ve invested significant time and resources into really understanding our customers and what they want. This allows us to serve them better by providing products and services that will truly resonate with them.
Be flexible and open to new opportunities
As the UK entered lockdown and social distancing measures were put in place, we were facing months of cancelled cleaning workshops. We were even about to launch our own range of cleaning products but lost our entire supply chain capacity to high street supermarkets. We quickly realised there was a huge opportunity right in front of us, to create a beautiful, eco-friendly, natural hand sanitiser as an alternative to mass-produced gels.
Focus on quality over quantity
From the ingredients we use in our products to focusing on a handful of outstanding products, we’ve always lived by a ‘quality over quantity’ approach. Keeping our focus tight allowed us to build trust and understanding with our customers.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
- Charles Handy – Irish author, management guru and philosopher with some truly creative insights about how to live a satisfying life
- Teuen van der Keuken – founder Tony’s Chocoloney, ethical, anti-child slavery chocolate brand
- Anita Roddick – founder of the Body Shop and environmental campaigner
- Dr Emanual Bronner – founder Dr Bronners for building an enduringly successful company based on “Constructive Capitalism” and an ethical supply chain
- Theaster Gates – innovative artist and social entrepreneur who revived a poor Chicago neighbourhood
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
- Getting rid of what you don’t want is not the same as creating what you do want
- You can analyse why an idea is good but you can’t analyse your way into a good idea
- Luck is where opportunity meets preparation
- How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time…..
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?