Sweet Cecily’s is a skincare brand that was founded in 2011 by Cecily Fearnley, with support from her brother Hugo. As many know and others can imagine, being a first-time business owner is extremely daunting, but Cecily’s knowledge of natural products paired nicely with her studying business law and put her in a good position to start her new venture.
Within this post we wanted to explain who we are, along with the other companies we work with.
Sweet Cecily’s is a sister company to BeeVital and Herbal Apothecary. All three brands operate under the same umbrella company – Nature’s Laboratory Ltd which was founded in 2002 by James Fearnley (Hugo and Cecily’s Father).
Herbal Apothecary provides high quality herbal products to practitioners, the trade and the public. These include whole herbs, cut herbs and powdered herbs which come in the form of capsules, herbal tinctures and fluid extracts. BeeVital produce and research honeybee products with a specific focus on propolis products. These include propolis tablets and capsules, propolis liquids and oral health products such as propolis toothpaste and propolis mouthwash. If you aren’t exactly sure what propolis is, you’ll be able to read all about it in our upcoming blog; ‘Why you should add propolis into your skin care routine’.
Although Sweet Cecily’s operates as a separate entity, we felt that some of our customers would be interested to hear about the work being undertaken by each of the sister companies, in order to understand the full picture of what goes on inside our small but mighty warehouse in Whitby!
Early Days of Sweet Cecily’s
After working for Nature’s Laboratory for several years, Cecily began searching for a natural product which could help to heal her own eczema. During this period, she spotted that there was a significant gap in the market for natural skincare.
Now remember, we are going back 10 years, when the skincare market was saturated with artificial products and natural products were having to fight their way onto shelves. Thankfully a lot has changed since then, but big natural skincare brands still dominate the market. However, people are far more aware of what they are putting onto their skin. After struggling to find a suitable cream for her own skin condition, Cecily started thinking about how often that must happen for other people. She decided to use social media to engage with potential customers to ask them what they thought was missing from the market. This led to the beginning of Sweet Cecily’s.
Cecily was keen to create an interactive brand which centred around those who were interested in buying natural skincare products, this way she could develop products through the eyes of the consumer and create ranges best suited to them – a truly collaborative initiative!
She asked the opinions of her friends and family and reached out to people across different social media platforms. From this she gained a better understanding on potential customers and what was missing from their skincare routine.
Cecily later went on to develop our current best seller, the Make Your Own Lip Balm Kit. Not only was this a truly unique concept at the time, but it also allowed natural skincare to be more accessible to the masses, allowing for greater understanding of what goes in the products and how they are made. We have found that interest in the lip balm kit can really be diverse in terms of the age rage of the recipients, with personalisations ranging from “Happy 10th Birthday!” to “Jenny’s 50th”. Speaking of personalisations, we have had some cracking ones over the years. At one point Cecily decided to write some of her favourites on a whiteboard entitled “Top Personalisation’s” which is still, to this day, placed on a shelve at Sweet Cecily’s HQ. Many probably aren’t suitable for this blog post but I’ll let you use your imagination!
Anyway, it’s been a whole nine years since Cecily first launched the Make Your Own Kit range and we continue to get good feedback from customers. Perhaps it’s because they are unique gift ideas or maybe it’s the crafty, get everyone involved elements that make them so much fun. The reasons behind their popularity are many and varied. One thing’s for sure, we are so glad people still continue to enjoy them and remain very grateful to our customers for buying them!
As time passed the business went from strength to strength, appearing in local magazines, newspapers, selling through various online stores and natural health websites as well as working with large brands such as Next and FatFace. This was exciting for Sweet Cecily’s. For a long time, the full-time members of the team consisted of Cecily, her sister Dorrie and her brother Hugo which meant they shared both the highs and the lows of running the business.
In 2019 Cecily made the difficult decision to leave Sweet Cecily’s. Since then on it has been primarily managed by Dorrie with support from Hugo. Both were sad to see Cecily leave but were keen to push on and grow the company. Although Cecily left, the business ethics and dedication to natural products she founded the company on have never been overshadowed. They remain a fundamental aspect to the day-to-day running of the business.
If you’ve been following any of our social media accounts it will be clear how valued each team member is at Sweet Cecily’s, whether they are permanent staff or are those brought in to help with the chaotic Christmas rush.
Each member is somewhat a jack-of-all-trades. Some days are spent focusing on making the products, whether that’s pouring a batch of lip balms or hand whisking creams. Other days are spent on the computer thinking of interesting blog content (or at least we try, how successful we are in that will depend on whether you have read this far!).
As of right now, the team is made up of Dorrie, Emily and Sue. Again, if you follow any of our socials it’s likely you’ll have seen us popping up from time to time.
Collectively we felt this blog would be a nice way to introduce ourselves. The manager, Dorrie has worked for Sweet Cecily’s since 2012. She has an array of responsibilities and pretty much keeps the business running smoothly. Spectacularly she manages to juggle her psychotherapy course while working full-time so a lot of her time outside of work is often taken up with studying. She does however manage to make time for hobbies including the occasional sea swim and various crafting activities such as embroidery.
Then there’s Emily, she started working at Sweet Cecily’s in 2017 and was originally employed as a Christmas temp but has returned almost every year since in between her studies. If you’ve sent a message to our Instagram or Facebook page recently it’s likely you will have been chatting to her. While she will openly admit to finding working part-time and studying full-time a challenge, especially with the added stress of the pandemic, her determination has meant she has been successful in both aspects. Unfortunately for us, Emily will be leaving at the end of August when she heads back to university in Newcastle, but we are looking for someone to take over her role so it’s likely you will see a fresh new face across our social media platforms.
Sue has been part of the team since 2019, besides making a brilliant cup of coffee for everyone, she does a lot of work in production handmaking the products. She often makes our natural hand and face creams from scratch, this may sound like an easy job but the process requires a lot of concentration, one wrong move and you’re left with a load of wasted product and have to start the whole process again. Also, more surprisingly you need a fair bit of muscle, the contents of the cream must be mixed for a total of 40 minutes, which is made especially difficult as the cream starts to thicken. Outside of work Sue has a keen interest in painting and enjoys spending time with her sons and grandchildren who are dotted around the country.
Another member of our team who works behind the scenes is Shankar and while he works primarily for Nature’s Laboratory conducting research, it wouldn’t be right to ignore the role he plays within Sweet Cecily’s! Shankar is a qualified pharmacist who checks the quality of all our ingredients and ensures they are of the highest quality (we have high standards here!). More recently he became the Director of Nature’s Laboratory. Although his office is next door to our workspace, he is often very busy, so we tend to catch up on our breaks over a cup of tea.
Each year we expand our team during our busy Christmas period, meaning we have a lot of new faces every year. The closer we get to Christmas we find ourselves rushed off our feet, it’s fantastic to see the team pull together to fulfil orders. After the Christmas rush, January seems so much quieter and with Sweet Cecily’s receiving a smaller number of orders Dorrie often works solo throughout the month.
We have a lot of exciting things happening at our HQ. As we share our workspace with the BeeVital and Herbal Apothecary staff we’ve been having meetings between companies to discuss a whole range of improvements that are going to be made to our premise. Recently we have had the outside of the factory and car park cleaned with an industrial steam cleaner, this may not seem like a huge improvement but it’s a good first step. More excitingly we are upgrading the Sweet Cecily office; it’s not only getting a new lick of paint but we are having a wall bashed down to make the space even bigger!
Plans have been put in motion to get Sweet Cecily’s social media up and running again which means we’ll be posting about what we are getting up to more regularly. We are going to be hosting some competitions so keep an eye out for those in the next few weeks. In addition, we will be keeping everyone updated on the work our sister companies are undertaking, including new products they’re manufacturing and any interesting research discoveries that relate to the ingredients used in our very own Sweet Cecily’s products.
While there will be many changes implemented as the year goes on, the ethics and ethos behind Sweet Cecily’s remains the same and we hope our loyal and lovely customers will continue to support us.