Today, I’m really pleased to introduce The Lavender Lady, or Viv Trusler as she is otherwise known. Viv is an excellent example of what I was hoping would happen when I got into beauty blogging. She is a small-scale manufacturer, in full control of her production process and with a friendly and holistic approach to her products and customers. Plus she has an email “open door” and was kind enough to respond to my messages and to agree to an email interview to accompany this post, which you can see below.
I love being able to speak directly to the creator of a brand. I have nothing whatsoever against big brands – they’re usually big and successful for a reason. But nothing beats one-to-one communication with the heart and mind behind the products, whether it’s to ask a question, seek advice or recommendations, or just to satisfy my own curiosity about something I find interesting or inspirational. It makes the beauty industry seem like a warmer and more collaborative place to be.
And in the way of the blogosphere, I found out about The Lavender Lady through a good natural-beauty blog which I also recommend you check out – www.healingbeauty.com
The Lavender Lady, aka Viv, is based in Devon, where her products are handmade using simple, natural ingredients. No prizes for guessing that the core ingredient is….<drum roll please>…lavender. And since I wholeheartedly share Viv’s passion for this little, fragrant purple cloud of a plant, I think that’s an excellent choice. I could waffle at length here about the various benefits of lavender but Viv does that much more succinctly in her interview.
So onto the products themselves. The Lavender Lady’s range is simple but well balanced encompassing products for bath, body and the home. I’ve been testing out the Lavender lip balm, Lavender bath salts, Lavender bath and body oil and the Lavender body butter.
The lip balm is a hard, waxy balm that you can soften with your finger to melt slightly before application. It smells divine (of course) and is soothing and smoothing without being overly greasy. This makes it perfect for repeat application (if you want a quick hit of the aroma) or as a base applied 1-2 minutes before your lipstick. It’s even become part of my ‘last thing before lights out’ beauty ritual; the smell is the perfect pre-sleep soother.
I’ve used the bath salts on a couple of occasions now and I think they’re a really nice and refreshingly simple idea. The salts combine dead sea salts with lavender essential oil. Dead sea salts have been shown to help aid sleep and to soothe dry, itchy or problem skin. Add that to the healing and relaxing properties of the lavender and you’ve got a really effective combined sleep and skin aid.
I think my favourite product has been the Lavender bath and body oil. Given that I was also using the bath salts, I stuck to using this as a body moisturiser and it’s probably the best way to get a really concentrated hit of the fragrance. Again, the ingredients are so simple, combining the lavender with grapeseed oil. I’m a big fan of using oils in place of body lotion and grapeseed is a great option – it’s very high in polyunsaturated fatty acids which makes it very light and easily absorbed. I could even detect a faint, warm trace of the aroma on my skin at the end of the day.
Finally the Lavender body butter. This is a light-textured lotion with a gentle lavender fragrance. It was really easily absorbed and left my skin feeling soft. While it probably wouldn’t be quite rich enough if my skin was very dry, it could actually be layered over a light film of body oil for a real moisturising double-whammy.
You can buy the full range at The Lavender Lady’s website: http://www.thelavenderlady.co.uk/default.htm
Everything is very reasonably priced with the lip butter at £2.50, the bath salts at £5 for 250g and £9 for 500g, £5 for 100ml of body oil and the body butter starting at £3.50 for 60ml.
A lovely starting place might be the gift set, priced at £15.
With 60g of the body butter, soap, 100ml of bath/body oil, lip balm and a lavender candle with an 18hr burn time, it’s a complete pamper evening in a box. Or it would make a lovely present.
And now, enough of me. Over to The Lavender Lady, in her own words:
Why did you choose Lavender?
I have always had a love of gardening and herbs, and this has developed into a passion for lavender, which has been used for centuries because of its healing, soothing and relaxing properties. Years ago I had a small business/cottage industry in Wiltshire which was called ‘Vivienne Trusler Herb Gardens’ where I grew and sold herbs mostly in containers. I initially grew just culinary herbs but gradually expanded into a number of beautifully aromatic herbs as well, including lavender. It was a successful business but rather seasonal!
What gave you the idea for The Lavender Lady and what were you doing before?
About three years ago, I started my present home-based business here in the depths of Devon. With my grandmother’s sewing machine, a few yards of fabric and some dried lavender, I started to make lavender bags which became very popular and, by attending a number of local fairs and markets, I soon became known as The Lavender Lady! After a couple of years my small business developed to include my own range of bath and body products, all containing natural ingredients with no harsh chemicals.
What’s your skin care philosophy?
Regards skin care, I believe that this starts from within – a good healthy diet, with fresh fruit and vegetables and lots of water to drink, together with regular exercise and a good night’s sleep. I also believe in regular and thorough moisturising with natural products – all over the body including one’s feet ! My body butter, with the added lavender pure essential oil, is ideal. Lavender has antiseptic and anti-fungal properties and it is beneficial for treating acne, psoriasis and eczema. If my body butter is applied to the skin at night, it will help promote sleep because the lavender calms the nerves and relaxes the muscles.
I’m really inspired by people who set up their own enterprises. What has been the hardest and the most rewarding aspect of having your own brand?
I am not sure about the hardest aspect of having my own brand but the most rewarding aspect is having my customers return to buy more of my products because they are appreciating the quality and the affordability! I have only been selling these bath and body products for the last twelve months but they are proving to be extremely popular down here in the West Country. My new website www.thelavenderlady.co.uk emphasises this – ‘Natural, handmade in Devon’.
I sell at various local weekly and monthly markets and at fairs, fetes and shows throughout the year, which I thoroughly enjoy. I get very enthusiastic, I love the atmosphere and I love meeting and chatting with all my customers. In fact, I love everything about my business and I find great satisfaction in the popularity of my products! My website has only been up and running for the last month but I hope that it will soon attract new customers from further afield!
What are your tips for growing lavender?
Lavender is a wonderfully aromatic perennial shrub and has a host of benefits. In ancient times, sprigs were thrown into baths to perfume the water. It is easy to grow and found in abundance on the Mediterranean. It can be grown from seed, root division or from cuttings. It thrives in full sunshine and in well-drained soil. It is important to cut the lavender plant hard back after it has flowered (which will be by the end of August) to prevent the bush becoming straggly. This also encourages new growth the following year. Some of the smaller species of lavender grow very well in pots – positioned on the patio or terrace, they give out a beautiful aroma as one passes. The flowers can be collected to be dried for lavender bags, sachets and pot-pourris and this should be done when the flowers are showing colour but before opening.
What are your ideas for new products/launches?
At the moment, I do not have any new products or launches in mind. My latest product, which came out four months ago, was the Lavender Pillow Spray, which comes in the most beautiful glass bottle. It can be used to freshen your linen or laundry or used on your pillow at night to help you sleep. It has the most wonderful fresh lavender aroma and could easily also be used as a room spray. I simply love it!
Disclosure: Viv was kind enough to send me samples of the products trialled for this review. However, in keeping with my own policy, I’m writing about them here because I like them and would happily recommend them to others. If I hadn’t liked them, you wouldn’t be reading about them.