Big Green Tree - the global skincare brand from Derbyshire
PUBLISHED: 00:00 31 December 2018
Derbyshire based skincare company Big Green Tree has blossomed since its humble beginnings, now gracing shop shelves as far-flung as Japan.
Given its impressive range of natural body lotions, hand creams, candles and room diffusers, anyone might presume that Big Green Tree has an army of people behind it. In actual fact, it is run single-handedly by its founder Helen Frear from her home near Chesterfield. It quickly becomes apparent that this is no ordinary skincare company, and that its recent success is down to a huge amount of hard work.
Big Green Tree has its roots in a family holiday in Wales back in 2009. ‘I’d bought a natural soap when we were there, and after using it a few times we realised it had made a massive difference to the way our skin felt,’ Helen explains. Her children suffered from eczema and Helen had psoriasis herself, so finding a skincare product that catered for their needs was no easy feat. However, unlike other items typically found on our supermarket shelves, this soap was free from sodium lauryl sulphate and parabens. Helen quickly realised that there was a gap in the market for soaps like this, and with that the seed for the business was planted: to create a skincare company that used only natural ingredients, free from any potentially harmful additives that could make sensitive skin conditions worse.
‘We went on a walk whilst we were still on holiday, and by the end of that walk we’d decided what we were going to do, what the business was going to be called and so on,’ she reflects.
On her return home to Derbyshire Helen bottled her first product, an intensive hand balm which is still a best seller in the range today. ‘It’s just grown year-on-year,’ Helen says, when discussing the blossoming success of Big Green Tree. ‘I started off by taking products to farmers’ markets, and now we do about two trade shows a year.’
As the brand has grown, the family has remained at its core, right through to the company’s name and logo, which takes its inspiration from a real tree situated close to their home. ‘The tree itself is based on one that was much photographed by my husband on National Trust land at Padley Gorge,’ Helen explains. ‘We used to go for lots of walks there when the children were little, so it felt natural for us to use it as the logo.’
The ethos of Big Green Tree is to create products using natural, sustainable ingredients. ‘We use a lot of natural oils such as jojoba, shea butter, almond oil and avocado, all of which are ingredients well-known for their benefits to skin,’ Helen says. ‘We only use British suppliers, and these are trusted suppliers that we’ve used right from the beginning.’
Her creams, lotions and body washes are then all crafted by Helen at home, where every effort is made to ensure that her products are of the highest possible quality. ‘We have a workshop with stainless steel worktops. It’s a very clean environment, completely separate from the house itself to make sure that there’s no cross-contamination.’ She explains that in order to ensure the products are suitable for sensitive skin, it is absolutely crucial to prevent any bacteria getting in.
The packaging used for the products is also very carefully sourced. In some cases even the designs for it are local – the home fragrance range packaging was designed by the Design Futures department at Sheffield Hallam University. ‘We’re very proud of the fact that we only use environmentally friendly materials,’ says Helen. ‘When we gave the brief to the University, we asked them to produce a box that could be repurposed as well as recycled. A lot of our customers have re-used the box to store trinkets,’ she adds.
Running a thriving business single-handedly cannot be easy, but Helen is armed with the determination, combined with a genuine passion, that is needed for success. ‘It can be quite challenging,’ she admits, ‘but when you get the feedback from customers, both from an end-user and our retailers, that’s what inspires you to keep going.’ Although the team behind it remains small, Big Green Tree has gone from strength to strength, winning Theo Paphitis’ Small Businesses Sunday award. The ranges are stocked in beautiful locations across the UK, including many National Trust properties, and its success has travelled overseas too.
‘We have distributors in Switzerland, and just this last Monday, as part of a Derbyshire County Council initiative in conjunction with Toyota Motors, samples have been taken to Japan for a trade show. We’ll see what the feedback is like,’ Helen laughs. Clearly, there is no stopping Helen and the Big Green Tree – it seems this Derbyshire brand is set to take the world by storm.
For details go to www.biggreentreetrading.co.uk