When we buy new products to stock in The Foodie Bugle Shop we know they need to be good, fair, well made British products, created without compromise. When we saw, smelled and used Nathalie Bond’s range, beautifully packaged in Kraft cardboard, we knew we had to stock it!
Nathalie Bond is an artisan soap and candle maker from Sheffield, and she juggles being the mother of a small baby with the daily running of her fledgling artisan family business, alongside her husband Andy. Their sustainable natural wax candles are blended with pure organic essential botanical oils and the cold process soaps are handmade in their home workshop from start to finish. Our favourite scents in their range are lavender, rose, geranium and fir.
We decided to find out more about Nat and Andy’s life and work, and this is what we learned about their craft and ideas.
Q: Nat and Andy, please tell us about the “Eureka” moment when the business idea first came to light for your range of soaps and candles.
Nat: Andy and I have talked about starting a business since we got married in 2010 but it was only when I was pregnant when I found my passion. I’ve always loved candles but I took a strong disliking to the candles I had at home. I found that it was actually only synthetic fragrances that I couldn’t cope with and I discovered that my candles and skincare products were full of synthetic chemicals and it lead me to want to find something purer and more natural.
Q: Where did you learn the craft of making soaps and making candles? Are you self-taught or did you go to college or night school?
Andy: We learned how to make soap from buying books and then just trial and error. Lots of error to begin with! Our bars are made with coconut oil, olive oil and shea butter and we’ll never go back to using cheap synthetic soap. I did a course but only because I wanted to ask the tutors lots of questions. We learned about candle making on the internet. Do be very careful if you try and make soap at home, it’s actually quite dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing – you must wear goggles and gloves.
Q: Did you start the business on your kitchen table? Is it still on the kitchen table?
Nat: We did start on the kitchen table! We live in a small house so it wasn’t possible for very long especially with a baby in the house so we now rent a small space about half an hour’s walk away, which helps keep Andy healthy.
Q: Do you have separate areas ~ one for making candles and one for making soap, or do you make one in the morning and the other in the afternoon?
Andy: We just have one place where we make everything at the moment. Usually a day is devoted to just one type of product because it means we don’t have too much to clean at the end of the day!
Q: Please describe a typical day in your working life.
Nat: For Andy his working day is 9.30am to 7pm most days, which allows him to get up at 6am with our son Alfred and have breakfast together. I usually work from home most days so I’m close to Alfred and I get most work done when he has a nap! If we get busy we call Granny Sue who comes over on the train from Wales.
Q: How to you juggle a small baby ~ hot wax ~ lots of slippery soaps ~ finding a route to market ~ social media, sometimes all at the same time?
Andy: It’s not easy. We keep Alfred away from the workshop especially if we make soap. Nat covers the sales side of things and I do most of the making and social media although we both do a bit of everything to be honest. We’ve got into a bad habit of talking about work late at night, which we must stop J
Q: How did you create the branding, the packaging, the colours and the fragrances?
Nat: A friend of ours (who has been amazingly supportive) works for a luxury brand, and suggested using my name because Bond is easy to remember, although initially I wasn’t too keen on the idea. The kraft boxes are simple and recycled which we felt matched our ethos. Our fragrances at the moment are a range of six stand-alone pure essential oils but in the future we will introduce some blends of essential oils.
Andy: We wanted a distinctive word-mark so we asked the very talented illustrator Molly Jacques to create one for us. We were delighted with the result. The colours were inspired by what we would think of when thinking of that particular fragrance.
Q: What other businesses inspire and inform your vision and aesthetic?
Andy: I love this question! I could talk all day about this but I’ll be brief. Companies I admire include Patagonia, Toms Shoes, The Rifle Paper Company, Herriott Grace and Kinfolk to name a few.
Nat: A few companies that I have been made aware of recently that I really love the ethos of are Who Made Your Pants, and People Tree.
Q: How do you separate the work between you?
Andy: Nat is great in front of customers and her passion is infectious so I prefer her to do that. Also she is better looking. She can also make sales visits locally with Alfred because he is only 11 months old. I make most of the products for the time being and run the office. We use FaceTime video calls when we need to chat but usually end up laughing at Alfie because he gets confused when he sees his dad on the screen!
Q: Tell us what plans you have for the future ~ creams, lotions and maybe hand wash?
Andy: There are so many products we would love to introduce! We have just launched two 99% organic lip balms and want to introduce some body oils just as soon as we can! Nat has been testing some for the last few weeks, which we want to launch soon. Watch this space!