An idea by a Hertfordshire business woman for cosmetics that were good for people and the planet has also proved to be incredibly good for business.
Former management consultant Laura Rudoe set up Good Ventures, a cosmetics manufacturing and distribution company focusing on natural and organic beauty products, from her home in 2008 and is this year set to turnover £3m, more than half of which is from overseas markets. In setting up the company Laura brought together her management experience, she has an MBA from Harvard Business School and was named in the Sunday Times 35 under 35 in 2012, with experience gained as a founding employee of NUDE skincare, which was sold to LVMH in 2011.
From her small beginnings she now has a team of 22 working from a studio in Hertfordshire, where they create two organic and natural beauty ranges that are manufactured in small batches by hand.
The ranges are Evolve Beauty, 28 affordable organic products for body and hair made with the purest and most effective oils and natural superfoods and S5 Skincare, specifically developed for those with skin problems including redness/sensitivity, blemishes, pigmentation, premature ageing and dryness. It uses bioactives from plants that thrive in the most extreme eco systems. As well as attracting the attention of big names in beauty retail including John Lewis, Anthropologie, Feel Unique and Planet Organic in the UK, the ranges have proved popular overseas, initially in Europe and now across 20 countries worldwide with Thailand, the USA and Italy the most recent.
To help develop the company’s export market Laura was recommended to make contact with the Department for International Trade (DIT) by the Hertfordshire Growth Hub around four years ago. Since then she has worked closely with International Trade Adviser Kantilal Patel.
“Mr Patel has given us lots of advice and helped us develop our export strategy as well as providing support on export specific queries involving local regulations, paperwork and tariffs,” says Laura.
“When I first met Laura she was working from home and five months pregnant. Four years later she has a turnover of £2m, 60 to 70% of which is export.”
In addition, DIT helped fund the team to attend the New York Indie Beauty Expo, paying half the cost of getting there and attending the show through its Get Exporting 2 (GE2) programme. Backed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) this is a tailored programme of advice and assistance for companies looking to sell overseas or expand internationally. The show led to a meeting with a global natural food and beauty retailer, who will shortly be stocking the ranges in the UK.
“We’re also still talking to other retailers we met at the show,” says Laura. With the help of DIT the team is about to go off to the Cosmoprof exhibition in Bologna and DIT has part subsidised the exhibition costs. The support from the GE2 programme has helped create seven jobs as well as exporting success.
DIT’s Kantilal Patel says that Laura’s approach to reaching overseas markets is a great example to other small businesses. “When I first met Laura she was working from home and five months pregnant. Four years later she has a turnover of £2m, 60 to 70% of which is export. She’s a real star and a great example to other small businesses.”
Laura would encourage other companies to take advantage of the GE2 match funding to attend shows around the world. “We’ve found it very helpful as we’ve grown. You just need to get the right kind of exhibition that fits in with your goals,” she says. Laura also thinks that DIT are great at getting companies to think about where they want to go with their business and how to get there. “What they do is ask lots of questions to get you to think about your strategy, give you ideas and point you in the right direction.” And for Good Ventures that’s been in all directions across the globe!