At Elephant & Eden they really care about the products you use on yours and your children’s skin. Their bath milks are lovingly hand crafted using organically sourced ingredients to moisturise, cleanse and nourish your skin, boosting your spirit with bespoke blends from the finest ingredients sourced from nature. Their core ingredient is colloidal oatmeal, scientifically proven to calm, cleanse and hydrate, and recommended in the relief of skin conditions such as eczema. Founder Sarah Casey is passionate about being climate positive, making the right ethical and environmental choices, and supporting her local economy. Here she talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the inspiration behind her business, her biggest breakthrough, and the challenges she has faced along the way.
The passion. What inspired you to set up your business?
My inspiration for my bath milks came from two areas. In the UK, I made natural soap bars. Whilst on my soap making journey, I came across many people seeking natural, simple remedies to assist their dry and sensitive skin problems. The impact of their skin conditions on their life was often significant; dry and itchy skin conditions such as eczema can not only affect the immune system of a child or adult but also cause severe discomfort, disturbed sleep as well as self consciousness or awareness of the appearance of their skin. As as result, I was inspired to create a range of soap and lotion bars to aid their symptoms and was so gratified to hear feedback from my customers and see the improvements in their skin. Finding a simple, natural solution was particularly important to me on a personal level as well. My middle child experienced flare ups of eczema as a baby, which continued into toddlerhood. She would scratch herself until she bled and struggled to sleep due to itching. Fast forward to child number three and we found she also suffered from eczema but additionally also had reactions to commercial bought bubble baths, which at the time we often used for a fun bath time with the kids.
Frequent bathing is considered detrimental to eczema and dry skin conditions because it can actually lead to the skin drying out, but bath time is such an important part of a child or baby’s routine as it helps bonding with the parent as well as removing unwanted bacteria from the skin.
This knowledge and my own experiences inspired me to start a range of bathing products suitable for sensitive skin, which would help hydrate and soothe.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
After giving up my career in nursing to care for my children, I turned to soap making as an environmental push to remove plastics from the bathroom; this developed over time into a successful business. Our family then chose to emigrate to New Zealand just after the birth of my third child. As my baby was struggling with reactions to commercially bought bath products, I was inspired on arrival to experiment with bath milks to soothe my own children’s skin. After seeing the benefits to their skin, as well as seeing how they enjoyed having their own special bath, I decided to launch Elephant & Eden.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
Sourcing organic colloidal oats in New Zealand is harder than you would think. I really struggled in the first months of my business as there is only one supplier of organic colloidal oats in the country, and their supply chain was disrupted. I was introduced to a wonderful lady who lives locally who hand makes the most divine chocolates and had a background in flour grinding. By looking at her practices and listening to her knowledge, we managed to source a machine which allows me to grind oats myself into the fine colloidal oat powder. For me, this was a breakthrough moment. I love being able to grind my own oats, having that connection with my product which I lacked before. It also gives me a degree of greater control over the source of my oats.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
This, as any business owner big or small would say, is a challenge. I run the business single handedly and have to juggle this with caring for my children and working my part-time job. Being very organised and being realistic about how much and where I can grow the business is very important to that balance. It’s hard, but sometimes that means turning down great opportunities.
I don’t always switch off the business when the kids are around. They are interested in what I do and love to be involved with product testing – I always get back honest opinions. I hope watching and being involved with the business will give them drive and inspire them to follow their passions and dreams. Equally, I have learnt there are limits to what can be achieved when they are around and they ultimately are my passion and focus. Work sometimes has to wait.
As a mum with a young child myself, I also find I am often very tired. Often the old adage of napping when they nap doesn’t apply as this is my opportunity to work. The best bit about making my product is that sometimes I can combine product testing with self-care and take a relaxing bath myself under the guise of ‘work’.