Saturday, 24 July 2021

Mother goes natural with business inspired by son

Mother goes natural with business inspired by son

A WOMAN who started making skin care products to help tackle her son’s eczema has turned the idea into a successful business.

Vikki Baker taught herself how to make soap and shampoo with natural, organic ingredients after Joseph developed the condition all over his body when he was a baby.

Now, six years later, her son no longer suffers from eczema after using her natural products and she has secured a permanent base for the business, Ugly Apples, in Chapel Lane, Benson.

Mrs Baker, 36, a former Royal Navy chef, lives in Oakley Wood with Joseph, her husband Lee, 37, a weather proofing specialist, and stepson Reece, 14.

Joseph was only four months old when he began suffering with eczema, causing him to scratch his skin and bleed.

Mrs Baker said: “It started on his shoulder and then it was on his arms and legs. He would cry when you put him in the bath.”

Joseph was prescribed a steroid cream but his eczema quickly returned every time his mother stopped using it. She said: “When I stopped using the cream it was horrendous, so I started researching what was causing the eczema.

“The more I looked into it, the more I realised that our everyday products such as shampoo, bubble baths, soaps, deodorants, perfumes all contained harmful chemicals that cause our skin to react badly, resulting in eczema, psoriasis and dry and itchy skin.”

The family changed to an organic diet and started growing their own food.

Mrs Baker said: “I found that when Joseph ate processed, sugary foods the eczema returned, so we went on an ‘all natural’ way of eating, making good healthy meals using raw natural ingredients.

“Not only were we looking at things we were putting in our bodies but on it as well, things like deodorants and shower gels.

“I looked into the ingredients and found I could make my own simply and with no chemicals, preservatives or colours. I started with nourishing body balm and it worked, so I started making lip balm, deodorants and soaps for the house. I made them all — soaps, bath salts, body scrubs, shampoo soaps and solid perfumes.

“I started off in the kitchen of our then home but it became a pain as I had to clean everything down and still had to cook. My husband came to the rescue and bought me a shed.”

Mr Baker, a keen photographer, sold his camera equipment so his wife could pay to have her products safety tested.

At the time, she was working as a housekeeper in Henley and started giving her clients presents of her home-made products. She also began selling them on Facebook.

In February 2014 she attended an event called It’s Your Life in Reading, run by clinical nutritionist Diana Earnshaw and then sold her products at fairs and fetes across South Oxfordshire.

Mrs Baker moved her business into a unit in Oakley Wood but found she couldn’t afford the rent despite healthy sales so she stopped making her products. Then last June she spotted a sign advertising the unit in Chapel Lane and decided to take it on and relaunch Ugly Apples.

Now she makes all her products there and has opened a shop which attracts regular custom.

Mrs Baker said: “I want to provide something that is natural, 100 per cent organic, using only the best ingredients, and I want it to be affordable.

“My husband has always been 100 per cent behind me. He works really, really hard as I am no longer bringing in the wage I was when I was cleaning.”

She named the business after seeing a sign at the Three Oaks Orchard in Henley advertising “ugly” apples, meaning they didn’t look nice but tasted good.

Now Ugly Apples is starting to get off the ground and Joseph has been transformed.

Mrs Baker said: “He has got clear skin, which goes hand in hand with a good diet.

“My products aren’t the complete answer but they do help because they are 100 per cent natural.”

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