This is a big hello to everyone who has ever had a mad idea. I hope my story will be of interest to some of you out there.
Have you ever, at any time, thought to yourself as you’ve traveled to different countries….
“There is something here, an idea, a product, that I know that they’d love back home? I should just import them or use them in some way, I’m sure I could make it work! It would help everyone out here and I’d love to have a go at starting a company, launching a brand…..”
Well, look no further, this is the blog for you!!
I am going to invite you to share in my journey that sees a nostalgia trip to East Africa ending with a decision to launch a range of soaps, body butters, hand creams and lip balms in the UK.
Learn by our mistakes, be inspired or be enlightened – you decide!
And here’s the website
Posted by valerieoutram on September 5, 2011
Another shipment of Marula and Kalahari Watermelon oil has been sent over from Namibia by Salmi who setup the women’s cooperative Oontanga oil.
So once again we had to drive our little car round the M25 to pick up the huge jerry cans full of oil.
Well actually I had to do it twice. The first time I was able to pick up the paperwork from our ‘handlers’, technical term there, but I forgot that I needed my passport to actually pick up the goods- not happy
So anyway back again the next day this time with big K ready to do the heavy lifting.
I forgot how overwhelming the lorry park at Heathrow cargo is. You get some idea from this photo but it doesn’t quite capture it.
Here he is looking like a proper trucker – minus truck
And here I am ‘truckers moll’
Posted by valerieoutram on April 26, 2013
Nature can make you feel a bit insignificant at times!
Its amazing how fear can set in after a few negative press reports. Having begun the journey slightly apprehensive I am glad to report that getting off the plane in Mombasa felt fine despite the recent news of several murders of local police by an extreme separatist group . The traffic as usual felt fairly chaotic but I did not feel unsafe. Kenyans are by nature friendly and peaceful and the violence of previous elections had shocked the local population as much as anyone. The British press seemed unwilling to acknowledge that these elections across Kenya were actually incredibly peaceful despite long frustrating waits for voters at the polling stations.
So K and I were, as it turned out, happy to be back in the heat heading up the coast to Kilifi to reconnect with http://www.wildliving.com/page/ and the mighty Baobab. Business was on our minds but it has to be admitted there were a few plans for walking on the beach, sleeping by the pool and visiting the Turtle Rescue Centre in Watamu (thanks Gladys for letting us help out on a turtle release!)
Anthony, Moses and Sammy at Wild Living were fantastic in helping us to meet up with their top Baobab harvester Changawa. Once we’d worked out how to transport his Baobab catching pole in the car we were away. A lesson in how the oil from the Baobab finds its way into Wild Sensual Body Butter was to follow.
We just had to carry it outside the car in the end!
Changawa catches hold of the Baobabs and they come crashing down to the ground.
Then they are chopped and pulled apart and the seeds are embedded in the dry powdery ‘flesh’ of the fruit.
And here are the seeds all collected ready to be sent to the processor
A final photo of Changawa – a natural showman!
Posted by valerieoutram on April 4, 2013
So we came to the end of our stint at the Victoria Pop Up Shop which I hate to admit I wasn’t too sorry about! Although I think our products and the rest of the shop looked lovely it was a somewhat uncomfortable experience. Wild was at the entrance and we kept the door open to encourage visitors so I spent most of my time there stamping my feet, swaddled in my huge scarf . The shop was also at the bottom of a a huge office block at the back of a wind tunnel that made up the shopping area in Victoria. Prime location it was not!
All of us tried valiantly though! Alexandra from @TeaStainedLil had us handing out leaflets and goodies to encourage people to at least walk over the threshold! Which at times actually seemed to work!
What was encouraging though, was that pretty much everyone that tried Wild products bought and were generally very enthusiastic about them – so we have hopefully collected some more converts!
Another reason that I am glad we did Pop Up Britain is that there is something about the nature of activity - any activity – that seems to make other things happen. Momentum is a strange thing.
We have had a bit of good luck but I am feeling a bit wary about putting this in print just yet!
Call it Superstition, but just in case, I am not divulging until it is Signed, Sealed and almost Delivered. Stevie Wonder thank you
In the meantime I am off to Kenya for a short trip when I hope to take lots more photos and bring lots of lovely things back. Here’s hoping the Kenyan elections don’t make it a difficult trip
Posted by valerieoutram on March 8, 2013
Well a bit more news to report – and its EXCITING!!!
From 19th Feb, next Tuesday, to the 3rd March we have been awarded space for Wild Skincare in Pop Up Britain’s Victoria shop in Eland House in Bressenden Place.
Along with the 4 other start up businesses we are sharing the shop with, we are tasked with getting as many people as possible to COME ON DOWN !!
Now you might think that there can’t be much need to to promote the shop being situated in the beautiful new Victoria shopping area surrounded by office workers
BUT YOU’D BE WRONG !!!!!
It is actually pretty difficult to find, tucked away to the side of M & S, and not looking especially ‘shop like’. See Pic:-
So I am asking politely if you would spread the word anyway you can – Copy the link to this post and share on Face Book, Twitter, email etc, etc
Actually forget about the polite bit.
TELL YOUR FRIENDS AND COME DOWN TO SEE US !
(sorry about all the shouting) :)
Posted by valerieoutram on February 11, 2013
Ha ha ha if only I knew!
Without having recourse to tens of thousands to either open up a concession in Selfridges or pay a PR company that has all the contacts and personal relationships I would say that getting attention from the press for a small beauty brand is harder than… getting a place on Branson’s moon rocket, doing a perfect back dive with 2 1/2 somersaults and 1 1/2 twists in a pike position , than getting everything you wanted for Christmas, than … you get the idea
Here is how it goes….
- Find out their email address – oh my goodness how hard is this! some of these, guarded fiercely by the receptionists, must harder to get hold of than for members of the government
- Send them press releases – witty titles in the header or else you are heading straight for the recycle bin before the email is even opened along with the hundreds of others they get every hour.
- Send them a product – this’ll get them!
- Send them more products – oh my god how many products must they all be sitting on? I bet there are boxes in the corners of the office full of products that have been loved and tortured over by people like me!
- Hound them on twitter – too easy to ignore
- Dress up like a giraffe ( lion/rhino/Masai warrior) and take up camp outside their offices – a bit desperate? what do you think?
- Let them come to us,who needs em anyway- hmmmmm
Well our next venture into PR territory is placing our products with Birch Box in the taxis of the editors et al who are driving from show to show at London Fashion Week. It will be interesting to see if this works in any way. Its a drip drip drip effect I’ve been told!
Posted by valerieoutram on February 1, 2013
So do we all love stuff coming through our door? Well obviously not the mountain of junk mail that piles up faster than you can throw it away, but you know, lovely, gorgeous thingies that look good, smell nice or just…make us better.
Obviously enough of us do because Beauty Boxes are big business and keep all the addicts out there topped up with new beauty products and new beauty brands. For a very reasonable £10 per month you can have all manner of products as well as a little mini magazine with lots of useful advice. Genius idea if you ask me.
We have decided to go with the very first in the UK . http://birchbox.co.uk/ The market leader in the States they have now come over here and have taken over Jolie Box to put in some serious competition to Glossy Box the main competitor.
It is all very exciting and as a contributor I got my own box come through the door with all the goodies which I am now trying out. Boris the cat got hold the Peppermint Tea bag and went so wild over it I started to wonder what else was in there. He started rubbing it all over his face like a mad thing, he just doesn’t seem to know the difference between a tea bag and a face cream… stupid cat.
Posted by valerieoutram on January 21, 2013
Well here we are at the beginning of Wild’s second year and as it is the traditional time of year to take stock I thought I would throw out a couple of general facts and figures that I have recently scared myself with.
Did you know that on the 31st of December 2012, there were 954 start ups registered at Companies House ? This figure goes up to 28,718 for the whole month and to 484,224 for the whole year. This is an increase from the previous year of almost 10%.
This is a quote from Jane Cunningham aka BritishBeautyBlogger and beauty editor for Metro.
“2012 has been the year of being swamped with beauty launches. I have never known a year so saturated with newness. On the one hand, this is great – it certainly keeps me in a job – but on the other, we’re in danger of being deafened by the noise.”
Last year has seen retail sales rising less than inflation and this has meant that even major brands such as HMV, Ebay and Hobbs have taken to opening makeshift stores under the ‘PopUp Shop’ banner; something that begun when smaller, innovative brands who struggled to get retail space pushed their way into empty retail units.
So what does this all mean….. for Wild…?
It means that 2013 will see some partners come on board to take us into first gear that’s what! No time for wasting time.
Posted by valerieoutram on January 2, 2013
Fairly recently there was a somewhat alarming news story about how the world was running out of Frankincense and I worried I was adding to the problem by using it in my products. Frankincense, as well as smelling wonderful, has amazing cell regenerating qualities which make it the perfect for skin rejuvenation. Thankfully, further investigation put my mind at rest!
Frankincense is of course obtained by cutting the bark of the Boswellia tree and collecting the wonderfully aromatic ‘tears’ of resin that this process creates. As we all know, it has been prized for thousands of years and so, when reports started coming in that there were no new trees growing to replace the older, dying ones, the world started to sit up and take note.
An extensive study began and it soon became clear that actually it was more likely to be burning, grazing or attack by the nasty sounding long-horn beetle that was responsible for the declining number of Boswellia trees.
So even though it is, I guess, ultimately Man’s responsibility as demand for land increases, at least it is not the cosmetics industry that is particularly to blame!
In fact it is more likely that the continuing demand for Frankincense for its smell and therapeutic value might just save it. The high prices that Frankincense can command means there have been calls for land to be set aside just to give the trees a chance to regenerate.
So phew! let us rejoice! All those incense burners and Wild Baobab cream with Frankincense can continue do to do their important work.
High church/rejuvenated skin
Posted by valerieoutram on November 30, 2012
Well I got through it! 6 days of hard sell aided and abetted by Chris who is founder of
It certainly helps to do these sort of things with a partner even if it is just to keep yourself sane after you have said the same thing about 500 times. One of our strategies for getting through this was to try giving our pitch in different accents but we didn’t last long . Chris made a lame attempt at Scottish and I started to laugh which was not very helpful so I decided that the ladies of Kensngton would not get the pleasure of my brummie accent, even if it is rather good.
Another suggestion from a friend was to take over the selling at someone else’s stand which in fact I had to do for a while, from the lady selling Alpaca – see photo.
Despite the hard work I did rather enjoy meeting the public and hearing the feedback and I also got some great tips about other fairs from some of the other traders.
were two who were particularly helpful.
So what did I learn – well that there are are a lot of SW ladies that like Kenya, that the little handbag sized body butters and the bags made by the Masai ladies are both winners and that nearly everyone likes a bit of lavender…
That’s enough for now I think.
Posted by valerieoutram on November 9, 2012
The last couple of week have all been about getting ready for the massive exhibition at Olympia called ‘The Spirit of Christmas’ when 30,000 determined visitors descend armed with their present list and a gleam in their eye. Very excitingly ’House and Garden’, who organise the fair, featured us in this month’s (Nov) issue as one of their favorite products from the whole show. Yikes!
So I have had to think about Christmas gift boxes and various other Christmassy things to get the Wild word out as much as possible. In the end we decided on an eco box with a lovely little magnetic strip that makes it snap shut in quite a pleasing snap-snappy sort of way!
And because I was running short of the little Africa bags that we use as a gift bag there was bit more sorting out to be done. This time, thanks to the lovely Lynita from The Wildebeest Camp in Nairobi, we were able to get our bags made by a group of Masai ladies who live in a very remote area of the Mara called the Loita Hills who have recently been trained up on some sewing machines.
This Masai lady is called Noolkitoip and she lives in the Loita Hills
I love this picture they look like they are having such a giggle!
Posted by valerieoutram on October 24, 2012