For the series Good Folk on this blog I have sent interview questions to some really wonderful people who are either making things, running shops, or generally promoting sustainability. I think you will enjoy reading their answers as much as I have, and I hope they inspire us all with the knowledge that there are people doing good in the world!
This interview is with Marian from Silvan Skincare, a vegan skincare brand creating gentle products using the highest quality organic and sustainable plant-based ingredients. Their products are also registered as cruelty-free by the Leaping Bunny Programme.
Tell me about yourself and the work that you do.
I am the founder of Silvan Skincare. I do everything myself - from creating the formulas, hand-making the products, to packing and sending out orders. I do get help with specialist skills, for example, a local designer draws and creates my beautiful labels and I couldn’t do without Sally, my media/creative adviser. My son is a dab hand at labelling too!
How or why did you get started?
I was a massage therapist originally and became curious about using plant oils that could add to the treatments that I offered. I learnt about the different properties and components of the oils and created recipes for massage products that really added value. I slowly expanded the initial body oils into more products, all inspired by the benefits of plant-based ingredients, and now have a full range of affordable, gentle and effective skincare.
What is your favourite thing about the work that you do?
I still love receiving an order or making a sale. It is a great feeling especially when people come back over again! When people are happy with the products and the results, and feed that back, it is truly delightful. I also really enjoy the process of creating and developing products, starting with a clean sheet of paper to the end result of a beautifully packaged, tested accredited product all ready to go!
What are you most proud of?
My proudest moment was receiving my first award, I submitted Soothe Face Oil into Janey Loves PLATINUM Awards 2016 just to get a bit of feedback as to how the product stood up in the industry. I had no expectations at all, so when it won the best face oil category, you could have literally knocked me down with a feather. It was a fantastic moment!
What are your plans for the future?
To make Silvan Skincare become a more recognised, trusted brand in the sustainable/ethical/natural beauty world. I have some ideas on a couple of new products which I am going to start work on in the new year… watch this space!
Can you recommend any other makers or businesses that work in an ethical or sustainable way?
I really enjoy working with other brands and having my products sold on carefully curated, sustainable and ethical websites. There is such an exciting array of businesses out there, for example, Local-e-sourced, focused on local producers in my area, Blomma beauty and Lovelula focused on natural beauty, and more widely sustainable gifts like The Future Kept and Naturalist Beauty. A new retailer that is carrying my products is Ecotribe, based in Madrid, Spain and that has been uplifting to see that there is a movement of makers and businesses much further than my Herefordshire/Powys region aspiring to similar values. I get a lot of referrals from my registration with Leaping Bunny and The Vegan Society, which goes to show how useful these organisations are in signposting people. I really have missed the local markets, pop-up shops and Christmas fairs this year, apart from the sales, they really give me a chance to meet my local customers and meet other makers and producers. There are so many individual makers out there doing really brilliantly creative, innovative things and this year I have certainly missed making those connections.
Take me on an imaginary tour of your workspace.
My workspace is not as exciting as you might imagine! My visualisation would be of a magical apothecary with vats of oils infusing all over the place. It does smell very nice, but it is just a room with a manufacturing/making area, a filling and labelling area and a packing area. But most of the space is taken up with flat-pack boxes, empty pots, jars, bottles, lids, pumps and droppers. My desk with a towering pile of filing and sets of scales of all shapes and sizes.
Do you have any advice for people trying to shop or live more ethically?
I try not to give too much advice as it can often feel overwhelming when you are on the receiving end of it! I guess I would recommend to just look to make small changes, one thing at a time. There are so many things to consider when making shopping decisions. You may be motivated to support local small businesses, you may want to find vegan products, or plant-based, or from businesses with ethical practices or you may be thinking about your family’s health and wellbeing and there aren’t necessarily options that tick all the boxes. I think of it is a journey that is constantly being refined and developed over time and the process of discovering is quite enjoyable.
What’s your favourite thing to do with your free time and why?
I have a family and run a business so there isn’t that much free time... I have a joyful Labrador so much of my time is taken with walking with her. I am very much looking forward to going to lots of parties and gigs and having lots of hugs with my friends when we can!
Where can we find you on the internet, buy your work, or join in?
My website is silvanskincare.com, but you can find the products in a variety of online stores, a growing list of bricks and mortar shops across the UK as well as with massage therapists who use the oils and balms in their work.