Beth founded BAO Skincare in 2017 after spending years making her own natural beauty products. She was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 2009, however she has since been told that she probably has ulcerative colitis.
In this interview she tells us more about being a business owner with IBD.
Q: Tell us about your business
A: After nearly 10 years in the beauty industry, where I had set up from scratch and owned my own beauty salon, I decided to launch a skincare brand that was simple, pure, honest and fuss free. I decided to call it BAO (pronounced Bay-O) because I wished for it to represent me and my passion so “Beth's Aromatherapy Organic” was born. I've been making skincare products for around 6 years but really started getting into it when my skin started to become really sensitive from all the medication I was on because of my inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
BAO has just started its second year of trading and since launching my skin care products they seem to be very popular and my brand is growing each month! They are all handmade by myself in my home in Dorset, I have no team or fancy studio. I make the products in small batches to retain the ingredients' therapeutic properties and freshness. Every product I make is 100% vegan, natural, mostly organic and cruelty-free. I have thoughtfully handcrafted each product from beautifully effective ingredients that are sustainably and ethically sourced and BAO has now has been certified by COSMOS Soil Association and The Vegan Society.
I am committed to providing simple, gentle, natural products that are safe for your skin and the environment, that are fuss free and clean. They are all free from synthetic fragrances, artificial colorants, parabens, phthalates, sulphates, petrochemicals and mineral oils. I believe in using natural ingredients that are the most powerful healing agents of physical regeneration for attaining noticeable results that you can see and feel. I have formulated all of the products so they can help bring balance to the body’s largest organ ”” the skin ”” as an entry to calming and restoring the totality of your body + mind + spirit.
I think what makes my brand special is me, my passion, my years of knowledge in the beauty industry and the fact that I am real, honest and really care for my customers and their wellbeing. As my products are handmade by me I think this makes a huge difference too, as with larger organic natural skincare brands they are mostly made in factories, So my customers can rest assured knowing exactly what is going into each one.
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Q: When and why did you start your business?
A: I've always had a passion for natural skin care and my friends used to refer to me as the ‘hippie one’. I remember when I was only 10 years old making body scrubs out of sugar, avocado and olive oil in the kitchen. So when I turned 22 I took a side step from my degree in graphic design and photography and completed a diploma in natural beauty therapy and nutrition. I completed my diploma in Australia, where I live for 4 glorious years (age 22-26) so it was wonderful to be exposed to such a natural holistic way of life. I fit in perfectly with my obsession for surfing, walks along the beach and BBQs. Then I returned home in 2009 because of became very poorly. I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease and then ulcerative colitis shortly after arriving home. I had dropped 5 kilos and was already small weighing only 65kg and 5ft 7. The next five years were good and I controlled my IBD with medication. I set up a beauty business from home and loved life.
So, after nearly 10 years in the beauty industry I set up BAO. I decided to call it BAO because I wished for it to represent me and my passion “Beth's Aromatherapy Organic” skincare.
Q: How does your IBD affect your business?
A: It hasn’t all been plain sailing. The last five years I have really battled with my IBD. Constantly in and out of hospital and on so many steroids and other drugs, they all stopped working so surgery was my last resort. So in September this year I had my first operation - a loop ileostomy, and now have a stoma bag, hoping this would ease my symptoms and rushing to the toilet 20 times a day. But unfortunately it did not and I had hit rock bottom. So at the end of November 2019 I am going in for a sub colectomy (removal of my entire large intestines). I am nervous but also excited as this has to work, this has to stop my pain, so I can go on and live my life.
I am so blessed that I have worked for myself for the past 10 years, choosing the hours I work has made it less stressful with my IBD, although it has been hard this year to take nearly four months off work. My IBD has affected my business quite a lot as I feel I am wasting opportunities and so behind on where I wanted BAO to be.
But, I love life and I am always positive and as happy as I can be. I try and live each day by saying to myself ‘don’t worry about the small things’ and I still do believe everything happens for a reason so try to live by that. I also believe in treating everyone as I wish to be treated.
Q: Are there benefits to running your own business when you have IBD?
A: Oh yes! firstly I get to do what I absolutely love every day and get paid for it and secondly because I can choose my own hours of work if I am feeling poorly I can just rest at home in bed. But I am super ambitious so have worked extremely hard the past nine years so this can sometimes have an effect on my health.
Some of Beth's products
Q: How do you deal with the stress and workload of running your own business and do you think this has an impact on your IBD?
A: As above really. But I do notice when I am stressed my IBD flares up more. I opened a beauty salon in 2014 and ran it for four years and employed around six people at a time. It was too stressful, so for this reason I did close it down. To help keep my stress levels down I do treat myself to a spa day every summer and every winter (just me) along with getting monthly massages. I find this helps so much, especially as over the past three years I have developed Cushing's Syndrome from being on too many steroids for a long period of time. This means my body has produced way too much cortisol (the stress hormone) and so I try to do everything I can to keep this low. One of the side effects is also weight gain, so I have gained 25 kilos the past three years through no fault of my own, so me time is vital.
Q: What are your hopes for your business in the future?
A: Wow, I have so many ideas and goals for BAO, this is why I am so desperate to get better so I can put 100% back into my business. It is my dream to get BAO into Selfridges, Planet Organic and John Lewis by the end of 2020. I would also love to go to London more and do talks on skincare and IBD and how I deal with running a business with IBD. Skincare and health are my passions and I want to try and help others through telling my story.
Q: What advice do you have for other people with IBD who are thinking of starting a business?
A: Go for it, but only choose an industry that you absolutely love and are passionate for, because in the first few years (at least) you will be working 24/7. But also listen to your body. I worked too much in the first nine years, now I am learning to take a time out each day for rest.