Be Natural is a small family owned and family operated enterprise based in Taranaki, NZ, dedicated to crafting high quality natural handmade soap. In their purpose designed facility they make organic, palm oil free, healthy and effective natural soap products that are kind to your skin and kind to the planet. We spoke to Sarah Lucas, part of the mother-daughter team who created Be Natural, to learn more about how they got started.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
In the mid 2000’s whilst living in Ireland, I stumbled across a book titled Cleaning Yourself to Death by Pat Thomas. The book highlighted how some of the home and personal care products we are using can have adverse affects on our health. One super easy way to reduce chemical exposure is to use a good quality natural soap. That led me to think about how soap was made… the rest was history as my mum and I started making soap for our own use. We’d found an enjoyable and fascinating creative outlet that could make the basis of a small home business. Essentially, making natural soap and looking at alternative products for the home is about reducing chemical exposure and therefore keeping our bodies as healthy as they naturally can be.
The Launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
Be Natural was launched by mother daughter combo, Sarah and Susan. We started with $200 which we used to buy ingredients to make soap. We produced in Susan’s farmhouse kitchen and sold locally through friends and family in the beginning. As the product was refined and the product range extended, we have grown organically, timing growth with the growth of the three boys that Sarah is raising with her husband. Consumers have become more and more aware of the environmental and health advantages of using pure natural products so we’ve answered a market demand for better more transparent and natural products.
Essentially, making natural soap and looking at alternative products for the home is about reducing chemical exposure and therefore keeping our bodies as healthy as they naturally can be.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
Nailing how to make liquid castile soap! Demand for the liquid castile, which contains only pure organic oils and rainwater, is gaining strength from month to month. The liquid castile we produce is one of the most natural and pure soaps on the New Zealand market. The liquid castile can be used for a variety of purposes from hair and body, pets and household cleaning. It is fantastic for anyone with skin allergies, babies and the elderly as it won’t strip the skin. We’re now producing a household cleaning soap as well as unscented and our signature Sweet Orange and Lavender castile.
Refusing to use palm oil was another great breakthrough! There are numerous other amazing oils that can be used in soapmaking – coconut oil, cocoa butter, sweet almond oil, shea butter, rice bran oil – the list goes on. All of these oils have fantastic skin food qualities and make beautiful hard soap with great lather. And by using a Be Natural Soap, you are not contributing to the terrible impact of palm oil production.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
My number one role is as a mother. I’m firmly a stay-at-home parent first and foremost. Be Natural has to fit in second or even third to family commitments. During the holidays, we try to include the children by having them with us while we’re working – or I restrict my hours. At the end of the day – it’s soap, not life saving brain surgery. Most people are happy to wait an extra 24 hours for their soap delivery.
The balance comes from a firm belief that my priority is my children. They are with us for such a short time and I’ve never met a grandparent who regretted giving up their career or business opportunities for the sake of their children. Some days are crazy, but I’ve only got another 10 or so years then my time is all mine again.