Important life events are often the catalyst for change. It may be that change is out of necessity or it may be a revelation that has opened your eyes to another path. For Nathalie Bond, that moment came when she fell pregnant with her first child. Having always burned candles around her home previously, she found herself having a strong reaction to what were some of her favourite candles. “I began to investigate the ingredients in the synthetic fragrances and paraffin wax in candles and I concluded: ‘why on earth am I breathing in all of these chemicals?’ recalls Nathalie, “I had a similar revelation about skincare. The brands I was using were full of chemicals and I wondered, ‘why am I putting that on my skin?’”
Prior to this, Nathalie had been working in PR, while also studying for a master’s degree in Music Therapy. Her husband, Andrew, had a career in product design but, between them, an idea was brewing; a family business that produced the candles and skincare that Nathalie loved, but organic, simple and kind to people and planet.
Despite the imminent arrival of their first baby, the couple’s desire to make a change in the industry meant they threw themselves into a plan for what would eventually become their eponymous brand, Nathalie Bond. After a request for part time hours in his job was rejected, Andrew decided to go all in, and handed in his notice. “We lived off savings for the first few months,” says Andrew, “in hindsight it was a bit crazy, and I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone!”
With no previous business experience or knowledge of producing candles or skincare, the pair took to their kitchen table. They immersed themselves in learning everything they needed to know via the internet, and later, on the job. With a newborn baby in tow, it was an intense time, but with clear determination and passion, Nathalie and Andrew launched their website in January 2014 – selling just five candle scents and five soap bars. “Our first order was from one of our neighbours and they still order from us today!” Andrew reminisces. Before long, they were receiving wholesale orders too – the first from a shop that discovered them via Facebook – and slowly but surely their customer base began to grow.
Over the years, the couple have always kept the ethos of their brand at the heart of everything they do. “The skincare industry is full of jargon and complexity and a lot of it is nonsense,” says Andrew, “our skin just needs a few high-quality, clean ingredients to take care of it.” Opting for pure plant-based and natural ingredients in their products means that even customers with very sensitive skin have reported excellent results without any irritation.
Having this close connection and open dialogue with their customers is something the couple feel very proud of. “For us, every time we get feedback or product reviews it feels amazing that customers are really enjoying the products and they’re delighted that their skin is looking so good,” explains Nathalie. Their close customer relations have also helped them with developing their range, adding lip balms, body scrubs and liquid soaps to their range at the request of customers.
Nine years in to running their business, the family have settled into a rhythm and in the summer of 2021, moved from Sheffield to Colwyn Bay in North Wales, bringing them closer to family and friends. It also felt like the right time to add a physical space to the business, opening their first premises in their local town. Its initial incarnation was as a shop, selling their own range and a collection of zero waste products, but their upcoming plans are to reinvent the space as their workshop and office. Here is where the running of the business will continue to take place, keeping them connected to the local community through the large windows looking onto the high street and by taking click and collect orders.
For Nathalie and Andrew, having a profitable business is of course important, but the need for balance in their work and life is paramount. Luckily for them, their newfound coastal lifestyle allows them to walk their three kids to school every day, and then walk to work together. “We have the beach on one side and mountains on the other side, so we love it here,” says Andrew, “and the best thing about the shop is that we have met so many lovely local people and that has helped us settle in quicker!”
So, what is it really like working with your significant other? we ask, “It hasn’t been easy running a business together with my husband!” laughs Nathalie, “we don’t agree on everything but we have learnt to put good boundaries in place, so we don’t talk about work 24/7.” Challenges, big and small, have been abundant for all small businesses in recent years – Brexit, followed by a pandemic, followed by a cost of living crisis – but this optimistic couple have a motto displayed on the wall that helps them through the tough times: ‘A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor’. They believe that learning from your mistakes and accepting that it’s okay if something doesn’t work out, is the best way to grow a business organically.
Advocates for a slow living and a healthy work/life balance the pair say: “We want the business to thrive but it’s not everything to us.” Their goal is for the products they make to reflect this ideology and to promote a holistic approach to beauty, skincare, and home fragrance. Nathalie concludes by sharing her favourite tips for achieving beneficial self care: “prioritising rest, having breaks from social media, stopping comparison with others and most importantly, taking a dip in the sea every once in a while!”
Pictured is a selection of items from the Nathalie Bond range. Below are the details and links to the individual objects featured:
Gentle Face Oil – £20.50
Gentle Balm – £14.95
Pink Clay Face Mask – £15.50
Revive Body Scrub – £18
Unwind Bath Salts – from £8.75
Glow Liquid Soap – £12
Glow Essential Oil Blend – £10.65
Home Spa Kit – £33.50
Unwind Candle – £19.95
Glow Soap Bar – £6.50
To view their full range visit: www.nathaliebond.com
Follow Nathalie Bond on Instagram to get updates and peeks behind the scenes: @nathalie.bond