We spoke to Jill Saunders who created the gorgeous brand Beauty and the Bees 20 years ago! Jill’s story is truly inspiring and shows just what you can achieve with dedication, focus and a lot of hard work. We have 3 of the Tasmanian Beer Shampoo Bars to give away (perfect for dry hair). Simply tell us your favourite tip (beauty, household or timesaving), the best three answers will win. Enter here! The gorgeous fragrance of this product is flooding my house, trust me, you want one of these Shampoo bars!

Beauty & The Bee’s Favourites:

Blog: Don’t have time to read any, squeeze out time now and again to write my own but new to this newfangled world of electronica!

Online store: Gumtree..hopelessy addicted!

Album: Transformer – Lou Reed

Book: Perfumes:the A-Z Guide Luca Turn and Tania Sanchez

Restaurant: Taj Palace in Hobart-fab Indian food. And my home where make my own curry pastes and cook up a storm

 What is the Beauty & The Bee story? What inspired you to launch?

I began suffering from eczema  in my teens which was s very distressing and that itself made it worse,I’m sure. I worked in sales and looking like the “Singing Detective” with skin peeling off my face soon got me transferred behind a desk out of the public eye.

I tried every commercial cream known to man and they all burned or stung my skin horribly- there was no such thing as natural skincare then!

As a child in Britain, my grandmother used to knit all our clothes, grow all our own vegetables, and had an extensive herb garden and made all sorts of herbal concoctions for the family’s ills…so in desperation I looked out some of her formulae in a tatty notebook at the back of the wardrobe,and began making some cream for my face, out of olive oil,rosewater, beeswax and marigold flowers from the garden,and my journey  to the rediscovery of the soft healthy skin I once enjoyed began

Dr David Bellamy the famous naturalist, was arrested as part of the Franklin blockade in Tasmania in ( from memory) the early 80’s and the TV vision in Britain of that fantastic deep green river stayed with me..and I took a trip to Tasmania about 10 years later, riding every road in Tasmania on my battered old CX 500 motorbike. The Leatherwood trees were in  flower, and I was blown away by their scent as I rode through remote forest roads off the map…and subsequently the taste of the rare complex honey which is just like a shot of wild rainforest for your tastebuds!

I realised that this was the place that I could gain the most fabulous fresh ingredients in the world to make the premium quality fresh product that I envisioned, and I migrated.

So I started at Salamanca market, pioneering natural skincare in Australia, with a card table on my trusty motorcycle and was overjoyed when someone bought a cream, taking a blurry picture of her to celebrate, $20 whole dollars.

How long has the journey been? A backbreaking, mindbending 19 years so far.

We love the name – where did that inspiration come from?

I found the logo –a mediaeval woodcut- in an old book and the name just fitted- a woman with her beautiful hive, and a pun on words I guess!

What do you enjoy most about running your own business?

Getting excited about new products and building them from research stage and going through many experimental batches and trialling, designing the packaging and seeing the product succeed, on zero marketing budget, just by word of mouth.

Overdelivering and delighting people.

Reading the fabulous feedback that we get on our website and Facebook…and the satisfaction of knowing that we make something good,true and honest, cheesey as it may sound 😉

And what are your least favourite parts?

Struggling to survive in a market sector where –universally-other companies lie about the content/efficacy of their products- being entirely ethical and honest ourselves certainly does not pay well that is for sure!

We do it for the love of it and dream of that big order or discovery by mainstream media!…not being able to get our message out to more people wasting their money on fake “natural” products because we do not have the dollars to do so is perennially frustrating but hey, still here after nearly 20 years!

Who or what inspires you?

Women ( and men for that matter) who survive running a business and suffer from mental illness or depression.

As a proudly creative ADD/Aspergers person I can testify that the day to day running of a business is EXTREMELY stressful and when you are keeping it together just one day at a time, and keeping that hidden because of people’s perceptions, the burden is doubled.

There are millions of brave strong small business people who quietly struggle with depression and anxiety every day, but provide a living for other people by building a business and employing them, who should be massively applauded.

Think about that when you get them on a day when they are not coping so well or are overwhelmed…and unable to muster that blinding customer service smile!

What advice would you give to someone thinking about or just starting out in business?

Think: have you got a great sense of humour? You will need it!

Think twice and think twice again-what are your strengths/weaknesses?

I learned the hard way that I am a creative, NOT a business person, and you are nothing if you do not have support ( thanks Patsy, Lani and crew!)

Be sure that you have a person that has business skills to either partner you, back you or the cashflow to buy the skills you need so that you can focus on the creative bits that drive the biz- NEVER underestimate that creativity is as vitally important as the numbers nomatter what the beancounters say!

Are you prepared to quite literally devote yourself 24/7 for a number of years to building this entity, with it in your head 24/7 too?

There is an ad for ANZ on TV at the moment that perfectly sums up what can happen:

You start out being a great cupcake maker- say- and within a short time of starting out you are demoralised and at your wit’s end trying to wrestle with the book keeping, and lose your “mojo” pretty quick!

Lastly- the customer really IS king or queen and is your first priority, overdeliver and go the extra mile EVERY time.

Beauty and the Bees website and Blog

Find Beauty and the Bee’s on Facebook & Twitter





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