A vegan and plastic-free shampoo bar created in North Yorkshire is cleaning up in the beauty industry - and winning celebrity fans

NORTH Yorkshire entrepreneur Rachel Clark has raised the bar of the haircare industry with the launch of a vegan and plastic-free shampoo - winning over celebrity fans and a clutch of awards along the way.

Made from vegan ingredients and in plastic-free packaging, Nut &Noggin shampoo bars have already won accolades from the beauty industry and amassed celebrity followers including actors Lily James and Kirsten Scott Thomas.

Rachel, who is based south of York, said the reaction to the soap bar has been "amazing".

She said: "Our online sales are growing every month, we recently got listed in Selfridges and actors Kristen Scott Thomas and Lily James told their followers they love Nut and Noggin.

"The shampoo bar was named Red magazine’s favourite yet and we’ve been featured in Grazia and Vogue magazines.

"We’ve also just won a Bazaar magazine Best of the Best beauty award which is so exciting.

"Sales are strong and we’re looking forward to growing the brand with our customers, who give us constant feedback and ideas."

Rachel is already planning some new products for the brand - and has just launched Nut & Noggin soap.

Smelling of pomegranate and mint, and using 100 per cent recyclable packaging to avoid plastic, each shampoo bar costs £15, with a percentage from each sale going to charities that help young people facing mental health challenges.

The idea was dreamt up by Rachel, who is based near Selby, south of York, and who used to work in public relations in the beauty industry.

We asked her to tell us more about her successful launch:

What gave you the idea for Nut and Noggin?

I’d been wanting to create a brand that gives back with every sale, a bit like TOMS shoes, but made in England, so was looking for a big idea.

Like many good ideas, it came to me in the shower! I realised I was surrounded by plastic bottles and products from France, Australia and the US. I then went to the hairdresser and realised everything in sight was plastic.

We use 167 million plastic shampoo bottles every year in the UK and only 50 per cent are recycled, the rest goes to landfill. Plastic can take up to 500 years to decompose, so the stats are pretty grim!

I felt there was a gap in the market to create a shampoo bar that gives you soft, shiny hair, in plastic-free packaging that’s made in the UK.

We also give £1 from every purchase to charities helping young people and children’s mental health.

How did you go about launching a new brand into a highly competitive market?

Great question! There was no way we’d be able to compete with the multinational companies’ ad budgets, so we’re using a direct-to-consumer approach, where we build a relationship with each and every customer.

What was your strategy and how did it work?

We’re still building the brand and constantly test different social media and digital marketing strategies to reach our consumers. We’ve tried to create an appealing brand in what can seem like a sea of plastic sameness.

Our customers love Nut and Noggin’s plastic-free packaging and our mission to change lives, one head at a time and give back to charity too.

As a female-founded business, there’s a lot of support out there and we invest time in building relationships with other brands, which is helping us grow awareness.

Looking ahead, what are your future plans for the business?

We have so many plans! The hair and beauty market is worth billions but the legacy brands are struggling to keep up with consumer demand for more sustainable, vegan options.

The market’s telling us that there’s definitely room for a disruptive British brand like Nut and Noggin.

We are launching a soap and we’re working on a conditioner bar too, with more new products planned for 2021. At some point we might need to look at investment to grow, so we’ll see what next year brings.

How, if at all, were you affected and have you had to adapt because of coronavirus?

News of the pandemic affected us hugely and we even sold out of stock in April. Everyone was suddenly at home, on their phone and shopping for feel-good brands. We struggled to keep up with orders. Luckily everything is made in Britain so we could quickly get more made and satisfy demand. We did pre-sales on the website to keep up with orders, which really helped with cash flow.

What is your best advice for someone trying to take a new product to market?

There’s a brilliant quote by Seth Godin - ‘different is better than better’. Just try to stand out with everything from your product to packaging, to how you communicate with customers and even how you do business. If you approach any market with something that’s like everything else, you’ll never succeed.

Tell us about how you 'give back'.

We’re aiming to change lives, one head at a time. Nut and Noggin gives £1 from every bar sold to charities like Market Place Leeds, which supports young people in the city and The Yoga Therapy Foundation in Hull, which helps young people deal with anxiety and depression. We also give to Winston’s Wish, a charity that helps grieving children and their families. We really wanted to create a brand that gives back and mental health is something that’s close to us.