Leyland woman's eco-friendly skin care business launches shop at Charnock Farm

Sir David Attenborough provided the watershed moment for many people when it came to seriously thinking about what we buy and what we do and how this affects the fragile ecosystems of the planet we live on.

By Tim Gavell
Thursday, 25th November 2021, 5:50 pm

The footage in Blue Planet 2 in 2017 of the heart-wrenching moment a hawksbill turtle almost drowned tangled in a plastic sack, gave many pause for thought about packaging and relentless consumption.

But it also was a watershed moment for one Lancashire business set up to have a more positive affect on the environment while providing skin care - Valley Mist.

Founded by Jo Holden in 2016, the Leyland company found it hard going at first selling its range of lip balms, as they cost more than the supermarket balms made from petroleum derived products.

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Jo Holden has opened her own shop Valley Mist at Charnock Farm after years of running her eco-friendly business online

But soon after Sir David’s wake-up call, customers began to change their habits and flocked to Jo’s online portal. Now Jo has opened the doors to her business in the real world, with her shop and laboratory at the new arcade at Charnock Farm off the A49.

Jo, 45, whose brand was featured in The Guardian newspaper at the beginning of November, ahead of the COP26 conference, in its Green and Ethical Checklist highlighted Valley Mist as a good option for customers looking for sustainable skincare and wellness products.

And her products, with eco-friendly packaging, are stocked across the UK and Europe with plastic free and zero waste shops, popular mainly in London, but growing in the provinces as awareness about waste and plastic containers grows and people bring their own containers to refill.

Inside her shop, even the fixtures and features have been created with 98 per cent up-cycled materials saved from landfill.

Jo Holden started off making soaps and lip balms. The balms are among her best sellers

And her waste oils, butters and waxes are up-cycled into her candle range which form part of the brand’s charity donation range - 8.5 per cent of the profits from selected products go to green causes.

Jo said: “I was a commercial specialist jewellery photographer for 20 years but as much as I lived it, I always wanted to start my own ethical business.

“I launched using my own money to fund it, with four lip balm tubes plastic free and soaps. It was so difficult, because they are more expensive - sustainable products are more expensive to make.

"I spent every working hour on this project. In 2017, I had just started going on Instagram at the time of Blue Planet in 2017. Overnight things changed. I got a few stockists, a blogger found my products and featured them and it grew. It has grown organically since through return customers.

Her new premises also has room for her lab where she created her products under strict conditions

“It is mainly with plastic free and refill shops, which are not so big in the North West, there are some but the rest of the country is a bit further ahead with refills. But as well as online I sell in farm shops and salons, gift shops, everyone is getting on board with ethical and sustainable products.”

One of her latest customers is the National Horse Racing Museum in Newmarket and besides the lip balms and skin care creams, her micellar water is among the big sellers.

“I opened the shop, but the main point of the premises is to have somewhere for my lab where I make all the products. The lip balms came from frustration at the lack of choice in the shops at the time. There was nothing natural and made in the UK with locally sourced ingredients which is important for sustainability.

“I knew I could do better and when I did my friends encouraged me to start a business. I started in 2014 and opened in 2016 - there is so much regulation and registration for cosmetics.

The shop has a range of items, all eco-friendly and in green packaging

“My dream is to be able to source everything from in the UK. It is difficult, because some are low yield plants so are more expensive and are therefore just not grown in this country at the moment.”

Jo added that she is aiming to help the refill revolution develop in Lancashire.

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Jo is also encouraging the use of refilling to cut the amount of plastic waste dumped
Jo's business took off following the BBC's Blue Planet 2 series shone the spotlight on world plastic pollution