Tell us about yourself.
I originally turned to soap-making after being made redundant during the downturn in the oil and gas industry and then being diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy left my skin in very poor condition and I was unable to use regular cleansing products. I began to make my own products to address my needs and slowly friends and family asked me to make them as gifts. The business was launched! The cancer prompted me to grab life with both hands and focus on what is really important. I’m a single mum and now a secondary school teacher and I truly believe it was this business that helped me and my family to stay positive during my cancer treatment.
Tell us about your business.
My business is called Kærlig Beauty. I have a diploma in organic skincare so my focus is on creating eco-friendly and vegan skincare products, containing organic oils, and delivered to the customer in beautiful refillable glass bottles.
My skin after cancer treatment was often thinner and very dry and I couldn’t find a product that would help, so I decided to create my own. I’ve now developed six liquid soaps and three hand creams in a variety of scents, with a ‘Naked’ version for those with sensitive skin. I’m also hoping to soon launch anti-ageing creams and a shampoo and conditioner. These products are the centre of Kærlig Beauty, a brand built on the foundations of family, caring and sustainability. I chose the word Kærlig because it means caring in Danish and I felt this really captured the essence of my business. My products are currently stocked in all Harvey Nichols stores, as well as a number of local shops and pharmacists.
I also believe in promoting the early detection of cancer. Early detection saves lives, my surgeon saw a change in my tumour within one week, and can also sometimes reduce the need for aggressive treatments. To support this, I aim to provide a beauty product that is specifically for regularly checking for breast and testicular cancers.
How are you finding the Accelerator programme?
I’m loving the Accelerator programme. The teaching staff are amazing, incredibly knowledgeable and really supportive. Since my diagnosis, my confidence has taken a sharp dive but I feel that this will improve over time because of the support from RGU. In addition to that, the content is really informative and is already having a positive impact on my business.
What advice do you have for women looking to get into business?
My advice to other women looking to start their own business would be to enjoy the challenge and don't give up in the face of adversity! Ask for help and appreciate that you can't know everything, so many people have helped me along the way. From kind words, to online support to practical assistance, such help has brought me tears of relief and kept me going when it has got difficult.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #balanceforbetter so what action will you do to support gender balance?
As a Modern Studies teacher, on the day itself, I will be embedding gender inequality information into all my lessons. My subject lends itself very well to raising awareness about the fact that inequality is still present. A key component of it is gender issues so I expect class discussions will be robust on the day!
I’m another woman that is trying to forge ahead in the world of business, the more of us, the better for all! I actively support gender balance on a daily basis - as a mum of teenage boys, I've found that sometimes their views can be challenged. After my diagnosis, it was really important that we acknowledged our fear but also understood that I needed to be as positive as I could be to help them cope. My business helped me show them that.
If you’d like to find out more about Amy and her business, Kærlig Beauty, check out her Facebook page.