We have a chat with Shirley Barber of Margaret Rose Apothecary about starting her business, her challenges and what she is currently learning about her business.
How the idea of Margaret Rose Apothecary did came about?
I can honestly say that I never dreamed of setting up a business but I have been influenced by the following: living with my grandmother in Sierra Leone who had a shop selling African butters, herbs and seeds - I was always familiar with the benefits of them and always believed that all what we need is provided by nature. I also became very obsessed with aromatherapy.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by a lot of things mainly helping others in any way I can be it advocating on their behalf or selling them a product to solve a beauty issue.
How did you settle in a name choice?
Margaret Rose was my mother’s name. I recall when growing up that she was always mixing different types of soaps, creams, oils to create a perfect product, most of the time the results were unsuccessful. When I learning to make products the unsuccessful attempts reminded me of her.
Why natural products?
I went to see my doctor one day and I met a locum who advised me to take care of my skin as I am heavily freckled. I grew up in Africa and had never heard of sun protection. As I approached my forties I could clearly see areas of sun damage and was determined to halt the process. I could not afford the prices of the body products available so I started to make my own.
What were the first steps you took to get your business up and running?
When I started selling my products to friend and family and they wanted to buy for others, I realised that I had to do things properly so I attended courses, accessed one to one training from an experienced formulator as I wanted to produce high end products.
What is your greatest challenge to date?
I love formulating products but find doing business challenging.
What are you currently learning about your business?
I cannot do it all by myself.
Where are you based?
I am based in London but I have customers around the world.
What motivates you?
I am motivated by positive feedback i.e. when the use of one of my products have made a difference; it reminds me it’s all worth it and thinking of continuous improvement.
What was the first product produced?
The Body Balm made from a combination of butters and oils.
Who are your competitors?
There are many artisan producers of beauty products all over the world and I do believe there are enough people to go around. I’m never concerned about what others are doing; I just want to stay true to myself.
What is your favourite quote?
I have a few but in this context, one of Coco Chanel’s: “Nature gives you the face you have at twenty. Life shapes the face you have at thirty. But at fifty you get the face you deserve”. So look after it.
How can we connect with you? Can you tell us your social media platforms?