Abi Weeds, Managing Director at Odylique, founded the company together with her mother Margaret back in 2003. Before that she had a career in economics research and strategy consulting. She has 2 children, a cat, a hedgehog and a love of food, running and mountains.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
Odylique is one of Britain’s most-loved organic skin care brands. I founded the company in 2003 together with my mother, Margaret, who is a herbalist and aromatherapist. Odylique has become the trusted destination for the purest, hypoallergenic skin, hair care and makeup products that care for your skin and conscience.
All 40 Odylique products are certified organic, cruelty-free, and free from artificial chemicals, common allergen nut oils, sorbates, benzoates, soy, wheat and dairy.
Best-sellers include the Gentle Herb Shampoo which my mother originally made for a friend with scalp psoriasis and suits all itchy or easily irritated skin; the gorgeous Timeless Rose Moisturiser day cream; as well as Repair Lotion and Ultra Rich – my mother’s magic formulae for eczema-prone skin.
We make Odylique at our own eco-factory, powered by renewable-energy, in West Suffolk. All Odylique packaging is recyclable and much of it is made from recycled materials.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
As I child I suffered from sensitive skin and eczema and my mother began creating natural products to help. As an adult I realised that these amazing natural and effective formulations could help others with sensitive skin too. When I researched the idea for setting up the business, I was doing a masters degree on the back of a couple of stressful years working in America. The opportunity seemed so exciting as there were practically no all-natural skincare brands 20 years ago. I never went back to a ‘normal’ day job!
How did you achieve awareness?
Back in the early days we did quite a few in-person events – health & wellbeing shows – which was helpful as it served as good market research too. Our big breakthrough came when we were recommended by the Guardian in a supplement highlighting how exposed we are to toxins in our daily lives. Media relations (PR) has been very important at many stages along the way, along with the power of online marketing.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
In the early years, we grew ‘organically’, using our own savings and making a lot of salary sacrifices. Grants for machines, making our building more energy efficient, and for overseas expansion have also been really helpful.
What are the key successes?
It’s amazing to think we came from making products literally on the kitchen table to having our own eco-factory and botanical garden. The day we opened up the site was a really proud moment. But in all honesty what makes everything worthwhile for us is the often life-changing moments that our products have given our customers. Whether it’s helping someone overcome severe skin conditions like eczema, or an itchy scalp, or being able to wear makeup on otherwise reactive skin.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Organic beauty is an unregulated and hence unlevel playing field. If you sell food/ drink as organic, it has to be independently certified as such. That’s not the same with health & beauty products – organic certification is voluntary – so you get a lot of ‘organic’ skincare products in shops that are organic in name only.
We made the decision from day 1 to certify all our products as organic to give consumers an independent guarantee that what we make is genuinely organic. But it’s made life tough and we spend a lot of time explaining what we go through to be certified and that our products are a very different quality to what you might find elsewhere.
What are your plans now/for the future?
We’re extending our hair care, skin care and makeup ranges but at the same time constantly looking at carbon footprint – everything from product refills to packaging return schemes. Our aim is to be carbon positive by the end of 2023.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
There’s never any right age to start a business – just take the plunge if you believe in it enough.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Research your market and competitors really well. Know who your product or service is for and what problem you’re solving for them. Write a business plan and forecast cash flow.
If you’re launching a business with someone else, make sure you are clearly aligned on values, what each person’s role in the business is, and crucially where you want to take the business and how far you envision it going. Getting a business coach on board to discuss things like that before you’ve even started the business can be invaluable.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
Queen Elizabeth II for her eternal commitment to her role
Nelson Mandela for his courage
Andy Murray for his resilience
Volodymyr Zelensky for his untiring leadership
Emma Hayes (Chelsea Women Manager) for her vision and being a game-changer
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there” Roosevelt
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
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