Getting sustainable with Wild and Pure
Bionic spoke to Elaine Roberts who runs her all-natural business Wild and Pure from her home in Kent. She’s been making waves in the sustainability pool lately and hopes to boost sales of her products while spreading the word about the importance of caring for our planet.
We found out how she came up with the idea to produce natural products and why she believes it’s the way forward.
“During Covid, I decided I just didn’t want to use any more chemicals on myself or in my house.” Says Elaine when discussing the start of her website.
“That was my first point, so I stopped washing my hair with conventional shampoos and spent a lot of time outside, I’d done a lot of foraging courses before and that made me realise how much nature can heal us.”
All of Elaine’s products are sourced locally, either from nature itself or from small businesses. Some Wild and Pure fan favourites are the shea butter natural sun cream, the witch hazel deodorant, seasonal body balms and most interestingly an all-natural ‘first aid kit’ which is an exciting new addition for summer.
The 100% natural first aid kit is something Elaine is really proud of. It contains a selection of salves, including Plantain salve for bites and stings, Mallow salve for dry, irritated skin and Yarrow salve for minor cuts.
Also included is homemade lip balm, insect repellent, Lavender ‘Keep Calm’ balm and Comfrey muscle rub for soreness and injuries. Elaine also provides individually wrapped alcohol wipes and two pieces of upcycled washable and reusable muslin cloth to encourage customers to think about waste. So, what inspired the natural first aid route?
“After covid and spending all that time outside, I did a first aid course so it all tied in together, I started thinking about what I could make out of things around me to heal, I started creating salves, and then I decided to put them all together and make a natural first aid kit”. She tells us, adding:
“My mum always had a first aid kit when I was growing up and it was filled with things like bite cream and TCP, I wanted to adapt this but make it all natural. I also realised I didn’t want it to be too expensive or spend too much money making the products. I use a lot of weeds, they’re free, the muslins came from a local shop who were happy with me taking what they didn’t need and washing them to reuse.”
Creating a sustainable community
From using cold pressed sesame oil as a moisturiser to making the most of natural options like coco butter and other botanicals, Elaine believes the fact she is so passionate about her cause makes her business thrive. Because all the products are all naturally sourced, some are only sold at certain points in the year when there is more demand, however, there’s always something new and interesting to try out.
“I’ve always been anti-disposable, so everything in the kit is recyclable or refillable. That’s how the kit was created. But before the kit was the website and that’s all about how to live naturally, what we should eat, what we should wear, how we should live our lives without synthetic foods and chemicals.” She explains.
Elaine utilises her website and provides top advice and tips for her customers, she regularly updates the Wild and Pure blog with skincare advice and fun ways to get back to nature.
“I’ve tried Etsy, but my customers are mostly people I know in the local community. I don’t want to outsource anything, if I need to buy ingredients, I try to make sure I’m buying from smaller companies, avoiding places like Amazon if I can. I’m always trying to champion small businesses through my website.”
The website is essential for Elaine to create her natural community, which she’s really excited about. She has WhatsApp and Facebook groups and encourages comments on her site, the aim is to educate people about natural living, promote her foraging courses and share tips for connecting to the world around us.
“The groups are about sharing advice and all the information I share is relevant to the business, so it covers things like natural healing, the most effective types of weeds, foraging and what’s in season. The website is a sort of natural living. It encompasses the same thing really.”
She continues: “With the community, we have a Telegram group too, I want to cover all angles of finding people, they’re all local at the moment but I’d love to grow the group, Instagram is probably the best way to go with that. But I could be more active with that side of things.”
Knowledge is power
Bionic was interested to know if there was any inspiration from other companies to go down this ultra-sustainable route. Elaine says not particularly, it’s just something she’s passionate about.
“At the start, no, there wasn’t really anyone specific who inspired me, there’s people I follow now on Instagram. Mostly herbalists and they’re based all over the world and are individuals rather than businesses.”
And what are Elaine’s plans for the future? She says that her first aid kits keep her busy all year round, if she’s not collecting ingredients then she’s putting them together and researching how to improve the kits.
“The plan with the first aid kit is to be harvested from the spring, so from April to September I’ll be harvesting and storing ingredients, creating all the things I need for the kits and then ill be actually making them in the winter months. I hope to use the summertime to kick start my foraging courses too.”
We quizzed her more on these courses, Elaine said she’d set them up to share her knowledge and introduce others to the power of weeds. The idea is still relatively new, but Elaine has high hopes.
“I’ve got my second-course booking coming up, but a lot of work goes into them, I take ten people at each time, but I hope to branch it out. I’d love to be one of these businesses that holds workshops, once I’ve worked out how to do it.”
So, does Elaine have any other plans to expand? She says no, she’s always enjoyed being solely responsible for her business.
“I don’t want it to be big, so it’s just going to be me and how much I can manage. I was initially taking the first aid kits to craft markets, but they’re not cheap products. I think to really want one, you need to understand what they contain. That’s where the foraging courses come in.”
Elaine tells us if you purchase a first aid kit, you can attend a course for free to improve your knowledge without spending more money than necessary.
On this topic, we asked her if the cost-of-living crisis was affecting her or her customers.
“No, I don’t think it is at the moment because we’re not talking about huge money, and I’m trying many different things. For example, if you’ve got a kit you can come to a foraging course for free. I’m aiming to create something community-based and make it more about the knowledge side of things.”
She added, “It’s got to be about money in some respects, like all businesses, but for me, it’s about creating that community of people, sharing information and learning new things.”
The natural side of the business
And what about Elaine’s business journey, was there anything that surprised her when she embarked on it?
“I think promotion is a bit harder than I thought, with social media you have to be so regular and consistent and put a lot of time in” She replies after a pause.
“I like the natural part of running a business, you know, being out and about and collecting weeds rather than the computer bit. Hopefully, these foraging courses will promote me in that way. Etsy was harder than I thought too, you’ve got to get people to review you and sometimes people don’t want to or haven’t got the time.”
But there have been positive surprises too, Elaine says a lot more people are showing interest in this all-natural way of living and she loves that notion.
“People’s interest is definitely gaining momentum. They’re more aware that nature does a lot for us and are now appreciating that. I write a lot on my blog and encourage ‘grounding walks’ as well which is where we barefoot walk and ground ourselves to nature. Everything I do is about connecting with nature.”