The business is run entirely from our small farm, set in the idyllic Mendip Hills in Somerset, England. Lyonsleaf (lyonsleaf.co.uk) started as a food and herb business. We began by selling the vegetables and herb plants we grew on our farm to local restaurants and at small markets.
We had always been interested in using our amazing herbs to create natural skincare products. We thought people might be interested in them too, so we began to sell small numbers at local markets.
At the same time as our skincare business was forming, we were trying for a baby. Like many, we experienced the pain of several failed pregnancies. We wanted to understand why this was happening. We began to investigate the negative impact that certain artificial chemicals can have on the body. We also began to look at the relationship between what we eat and how we feel.
Whilst we were developing our ideas we had an experience that steered us and gave us confidence in our blossoming ethos. I have sensitive skin and have experienced eczema. After an serious adverse reaction to a prescription steroid cream, I began using our homemade calendula moisturiser to soothe and hydrate sore swollen eyes, and it didn’t sting on contact with my skin (unlike the steroid cream), they slowly returned to normal.
These experiences and the research we did in response convinced us that 100% natural (not pretend natural, really natural) was the way forward, we soon found out that the only way to be 100% natural was to go water-free.
Our handmade, natural products proved to be an instant success with our customers. At first we were genuinely surprised to hear from people who had found that our products were so useful for customers with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Now we realise that it is because we have control of the processing and storage of the herbs we grow. We can ensure they are really potent and of the highest quality. It’s also because we don’t use the harsh preservatives necessary to stabilise water-based creams.
In 2012 we decided we were really onto something, and we decided it should be affordable. It led us to create our philosophy that helps to guide everything we do. We call it the Republic of Natural Skincare.
And we are very pleased to be able to say that we’re joined on the journey by our beautiful daughter Evie in 2013.
Eating a lot of vegetables along with protein at every meal. I was a vegetarian for 20 years and I wasn’t that good at it - I didn’t eat enough protein and I didn’t do myself any good. I am a very busy person - not very good at relaxing and often stressed - this combination over many years had a bad effect on my adrenals which I believe led to my miscarriages and early menopause symptoms. Now we produce our own free range meat, even though everyone else is going vegan, I am definitely a converted carnivore (sorry!). If you are veggie or vegan - eat plenty of pulses! If you eat meat eat good meat and still eat plenty of pulses too. I now make sure I don’t get hungry and let my blood sugar drop and I avoid sugar and unrefined carbs that make my blood sugar spike.
I stretch in the morning.
I try not to put anything on my skin that I wouldn’t eat.
I do not work weekends.
We are, like most, picking ourselves up after lockdown and preparing incase there is another one. At the farm we are hoping to build a new building next spring and we are currently working with architects to design and get planning permission. At present we work partly out of our home and in various outbuildings - we have an office in a converted horsebox amnd this summer we have converted several stables to workrooms where people can be physically distanced at work. But there is some dashing between buildings when it rains so we hope to get it all under one roof.
The building is obviously very exciting and a bit distracting, but we are trying to push the business further too with new products. We have recently harvested a crop of comfry in our herb field, which has achieved organic status this year, and we hope to create a new product with that. We have a few other ideas up our sleeves but we dont want to speak about them until we have had time to get the formulating underway. We will also get our current products certified organic - We have been told by the soil association that our products are already eligible for organic certification, but we are planning to phase out use of non organic almond oil which we currently use in some products and replace it with organic sunflower oil. This is better for customers with nut allergies and means all of our products will have a very high percentage of organic ingredients ready for certification.
THREE WAYS TO BE MORE SUSTAINABLE
1)Buy less new stuff
Everything you buy has caused a carbon emission - Do you really need it? Can you get it second hand? if you do need to buy new, buy good quality built to last or just get into the habit of looking around you and see if you can use something you would otherwise throw away, I find it surprising how often I actually have what I need lying around, but we dont always think to look.
2) Make do and mend
Repair anything you can and avoid throwing it away for as long as possible. Or try to use a waste product - for example if you buy compost you can compost food and garden waste along with cardboard packaging that stuff you buy arrives in and you’ve cut out 2 waste streams from your house hold and avoided buying something new.
3) Switch to a renewable power tariff - Renewable energy in your home (like solar power) is out of most peoples reach - but you can buy renewable energy in and it’s often less expensive than the tariff you might be on now