Noble Isle is a brand I have been following for a while. I love their approach to sourcing; as all of their ingredients come from local British based producers. As someone who struggles with sensitive skin, I need the products that I use to be as natural as possible and that is what Noble Isle aims for too. All of their products are vegan and cruelty-free, as well as free from parabens! I sat down with Katy Simpson; founder and director of Noble Isle, to chat about how the business began, and what her goals are for the future. We both hope that you enjoy this week's conversation!
Welcome Katy! Tell me a bit about how you got your start in the beauty & body care industry?
After travelling the world with my parents throughout my school years, I headed back to attend University in London where I studied Fashion Buying and Marketing for four years.
I worked in the buying offices of several high street and designer houses in the U.K. where I started on garments, then moved to accessories, shoes, bags and leather gifts. Soon, I found myself working with jewellery, fragrance sets and bath & body. I really enjoyed the product type and discovered I had a hidden passion for fragrance. I also love taking an idea and developing it into something physical.
That’s great. So when did you decide to start up Noble Isle and why?
In 2001, I left fashion and moved to Bath, Body and Beauty within a well-known British luxury cosmetics house where I was Head of Product Development for eight years. In 2008 I left the corporate world to work as a consultant for small start-up brands.
I decided it was time to start a new business with three ex-colleagues and Noble Isle was born in 2012, after a year and a half in development. When I created Noble Isle, I had a passion to produce something truly British; a British company, making products in the British Isles, sourcing ingredients from celebrated local producers in the UK. I wanted to promote and highlight what is happening in this country; the amazing places, people, and ingredients. The British ingredients are unique to Noble Isle.
I love that! So how did you go about sourcing the ingredients?
During the creation of the brand, we travelled the length and breadth of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to source authentic, quintessentially British ingredients that celebrate our rich cultural history. Our sumptuous lotions and washes feature extracts sourced from celebrated local producers, including Rhubarb from Yorkshire, Sea Oak from Ireland, Barley from Scotland and Beetroot from Wales. Noble Isle is a strong, proud British brand. The designs are contemporary and modern, however we have not forgotten our past or our heritage. We are grounded, rooted and inspired by our land, culture and history.
So, how do you come up with new ideas for products?
My biggest inspiration comes from natural ingredients and nature. That is where I find all my ideas. I am also passionate about beautifully wrapped products and spend time in food halls, chocolate shops and markets, looking for inspiration.
I find browsing markets so inspiring too! What is your favourite thing about having started Noble Isle?
Positive customer feedback; it’s my biggest delight.
That must be really rewarding. I can see that building meaningful relationships with customers and other brands is important to you. How have some of your hotel partnerships come about?
Research and reading, then reaching out to hotels who we feel we have synergy with, getting to know each other and becoming partners. Understanding their needs and problems is key as we can support them and their business.
What would you say is the best part of your job?
Seeing products on shelves in retailers and hotels, knowing that a concept you had in your head two years previously is now a reality; on a shelf, ready to sell and hopefully be loved…
They are definitely loved... If you had to pick, what’s your absolute favourite product that you have ever created?
Willow Song Bath & Shower Gel; the fragrance is British springtime in a bottle and reminds me of all the delights the new season brings.
What were your biggest challenges in starting up Noble Isle?
It’s a very competitive market out there with lovely, great, established brands, so you have to ensure you have a strong brand, layers to your story and really believe in your concept. There are knock backs, but you just have to keep going. Every day brings new challenges, it is what business is all about: solving problems. If you can see it like that, problems are easier to solve.
What would you say makes Noble Isle stand out?
We are a vegan, cruelty-free luxury British bath & body brand, created using real perfume and natural extracts. We promote farmers, charities, conservationists; people doing exceptional things in our country. Each producer is incredibly passionate about their ingredient. So, the most important factor when making our products is that we use British extracts from local celebrated producers from the British Isles. Perry Pear from Gloucestershire Orchards, Barley from the Balvenie distillery, Beetroot from Monmouthshire, Elderflower from Cornwall, Samphire from the Irish coastline and Heather Honey from Perthshire – to name just a few!
That is so special! What has been your biggest “pinch me” moment?
Seeing the products on the shelves of Liberty, Fortnum & Mason and Harrods!
What inspires you?
Nature, that is where all my ideas come from.
What does an average day look like for you?
Strong coffee and emails. Lots and lots of emails!
Do you think you have a work/life balance?
No, and I don’t know anyone who runs a business and could say otherwise. It is completely my life; my work and personal life are entirely wrapped up in each other.
What words do you live by?
We are nothing without our health; it must always be our number one priority.
I absolutely agree! So, what’s next for Noble Isle?
We are about to go green! We are turning all of our base formulations to natural bases.
If you fancy checking out some previous interviews you can find them here. All images are via Noble Isle.