I recently came across an independent skincare label called Myroo – a range of all-natural, luxury products for the face and body, which are hand-made by founder Rachael Dunseath right here in Harrogate. During the winter months my hands really suffer in the cold weather so I was keen to try out her popular Geranium Hand Treat, which is just what my chapped mitts needed at this time of year! Here’s the verdict:
I really like the simple, clean packaging of this range, which seems premium but not superfluous. The white paper box felt like I was opening a present to myself and as soon as I unscrewed the jar there was a nice, potent smell of geranium with a hint of rose oil. The hand treat is made using Shea (fruit butter) and a little goes a long way.
Unlike some sticky hand creams I’ve used, this has a really light yet rich feeling because it instantly melts into your skin and doesn’t leave it feeling greasy. I love the way that the heat from your hands releases the smell of the plant oils, which are fresh and botanical rather than artificial or ‘granny’ fragranced.
I’ve been using the hand treat for over a week now and my hands feel soft and nourished. I keep it by my bed and put it on before I go to sleep because I find the smell is really relaxing too. My mum suffers with chapped hands like me so I think I might buy her a pot or it could make a great Mother’s day present.
I caught up with Myroo’s founder Rachael Dunseath to find out more – here’s her story:
Myroo is a real labour of love for Rachael Dunseath, the Harrogate-based businesswoman and mum of two who launched her hand-made skincare range a year ago. She has just celebrated her first year in business and in profit to boot, proving Myroo is no handicraft hobby but a brand in the making.
“I’ve always loved making things,” says Rachael who laughs when she admits that she has probably tried every craft possible and is certainly no slouch with a sewing machine. Like many others though she fell into a corporate career, working in financial services in London. Ten years and a move to Harrogate later, she found herself facing redundancy and as a budgeting exercise one Christmas she considered what she could make as presents for friends and family.
“I found a recipe for old fashioned bath salts, which I made as gifts and everybody loved them,” explains Rachael. “It planted a seed of an idea and when I set up Myroo the first thing I made was a salt scrub and a bath soak.”
She took a stall at a craft fair to test her products on the market and received a great response, prompting her to take voluntary redundancy and invest the money in launching Myroo. As the saying goes, she hasn’t looked back since.
“When it comes to making skincare products, there’s a lot of legislation and paperwork involved,” she says “which was quite daunting but I saw it as an opportunity as well as a challenge. I love all the elements of this business from the making to the packaging, design and branding.”
Both Rachael’s skincare ranges Myroo and Milly & Flossy (her baby range, which she named after her two young daughters) are created from 100% natural ingredients, which she makes herself in her converted garage. While this hands-on approach is fundamental to the range’s USP, it in no way demeans its efficacy. All of her product formulations are approved by a cosmetic scientist and are safely tested on humans.
“There’s nothing artificial or synthetic in my products,” declares Rachael. “and because they are so pure and contain no water there’s no need to add preservative, yet they have a shelf life of 12 months. The ingredients I use, for example Shea which is packed full of vitamins and minerals, undergo minimum processing, and just like food, this means they retain all their goodness.”
And just because her products are hand-made this doesn’t mean that they should be presented as overly-worthy. In fact, Rachael describes Myroo as a ‘masstige’ product – a range with a luxurious feel aimed at the mass market.
“I think some hand-made cosmetics tend to have a sack cloth and ashes feel,” says Rachael, “packaged in brown paper and string but I wanted Myroo to feel more luxurious and premium.”
Aside from its completely natural and hand-made attributes, Myroo also boasts strong eco-credentials since all its packaging is recyclable. But essentially Rachael wishes the product to remain honest and effective as she explains.
“No matter how big it grows, I will always want Myroo to remain hand-made and will always keep it simple. All I need is a gas hob and a hand-mixer and I like the fact that every product I make doesn’t look completely uniform.”
Myroo and Milly & Flossy are sold through Rachael’s websites and at selected craft fairs. New products in the pipeline include foot care and facial products as well as a liquid soap.
Rachael is kindly offering a 10% discount for readers of this blog, using the code kat10 until the end of March 2010.
My little boy recently broke his leg and while I was hunting around the bookshop for things to entertain him, I came across this lovely book I thought I might share with you. It’s called Spot it! by Delphine Chedru (ISBN 978-0-8109-0632-7)
My son Charlie usually likes to choose books with dinosaurs, dragons or pirates and the story is very important of course, but I also like to choose books for him that I feel have a really strong visual element as well (let’s face it, I spend so much time reading these books I might as well enjoy them too eh?). I really like this book because of its simple, graphic quality and bright colours but I know Charlie will also love to search the pages and spot the hidden creatures. Can you find them?
Sometimes a cushion is just so beautiful you have to buy it, regardless of whether you need any more or whether there’s even room on the sofa. Lorna Syson’s cushions are definitely those kind of cushions.
Lorna’s range of cushions and wall decorations are hand-made in her London studio from eco-friendly textiles. In fact she can trace the provenance of her fabrics from source to shelf, making them easy on the conscience as well as the eye. The range is characterised by beautifully printed, laser cut and manipulated suedes and fabrics with contrasting textures and colours. So while you may not be able to justify a new sofa right now, surely one more cushion won’t hurt?
Like most sensible, law-abiding people I like my tea and you know I’m partial to a nice knitted tea cosy from time to time, so imagine (if you can) my glee when I discovered Cosy Tea, which cleverly combines the two in a perfect package. Let me explain.
Inspired by the recent renaissance in knitting, Cosy Tea has worked with local knitters to create patterns that fitted with its teas and are proudly displayed as a key part of the wonderful packaging (the knitter’s name and stitch used is even referenced on the side).
The idea is that Cosy Tea evokes the comfort of the traditional English tea cosy and doesn’t it just? I love the trad/modern twist of this new brand of tea, which has bags of personality and makes me smile before I’ve even put the kettle on and taken a sip.
That said, once I did get stuck into sampling the tea I wasn’t disappointed, for ‘while the look and feel of the tea is important,’ says Cosy, ‘the taste is paramount’. Absolutely!
Cosy Tea make 8 varieties including Breakfast, Earl Grey, Rooibos & Vanilla, Chamomile, Lemon Green, Blueberry with echinacea, Peppermint and Jasmine Green. I have to admit that I haven’t tasted the green varieties (as they just aren’t my cup of tea I’m afraid) but here are my thoughts on the ones I’ve tried so far.
Rooibos with vanilla
There’s a lovely smell when you open the pack and once brewed to a satisfying creamy brown colour (I always add milk to Rooibos) the taste is wonderfully caramel-like. Put it this way, if a herbal tea could come anywhere close to emulating the taste of banoffi pie, this is it. This is the best Rooibos I’ve ever tasted and I’ve a tried a few. The added vanilla makes it quite a sweet drink so I would finish off a meal with this when I was too full for pudding. Drink it curled up on the sofa in front of Antiques Roadshow after Sunday dinner.
I loved the mellow comforting flavour of this tea and, as my friend Molly pointed out, it almost has a hint of licorice flavour and not at all ‘grassy’ as I think some cheaper chamomile can taste. This tea is great for chilling out after a manic morning or a caffeine overload. Drink it during your afternoon tea break, probably with a bit of cake on the side (and as Cosy Tea recommends, ‘definitely no under-fives’).
This tasted fine but didn’t knock my socks off. I detected no real difference to any other peppermint varieties I’ve tried and so was slightly disappointed as I drink a lot of mint tea and was hoping for something special. It’s perfectly nice though and I would slug back one of these with a few pieces of chocolate.
Sadly this old man was not quite sprightly enough for me but this might be because I prefer Lady Grey and a bit of a citrus kick. I expect this would please Earl Grey traditionalists especially drunk black with a slice of lemon.
Blueberry with Echinacea
I do like fruit tea but I think the tendency is, with some brands, that they can become too sharp and all end up tasting the same (a bit like bitter ribena or bland fruit cordial). This blueberry tea has a lovely soft fruity flavour and never starts to taste astringent. This would do nicely as a breakfast tea if you wanted to ease yourself in gradually (especially on the weekend). I’d have it with croissants or fruit toast or maybe later in the day with a buttered scone. Lovely!
Have you tried Cosy Tea yet? For more information take a look at www.cosy-tea.com
If you’d like to know about the clever people who designed this packaging check out www.penciluk.co.uk
This is just a quick one to show you what arrived in the post for me this morning: this gorgeous vintage button necklace, hand-made by designer Georgia Coote, which I was lucky enough to win in a recent giveaway of hers.
Georgia kindly included one of her own hand-made cards as well as a few bonus goodies such as a key fob, pocket mirror and some badges, all covered in her own beautiful graphic prints. Her designs are also used to cover textiles, stationery, ceramics and wallpaper.
But back to that lovely necklace. As you may know, I love buttons, especially vintage ones, so the challenge for me was choosing my favourite. Georgia creates a range of one-off necklaces in different colours and styles and each one is unique. In the end I had to plump for Nora, because I loved the colours and the shape and style of the buttons used. What do you think?
And here’s a pic of me, pleased as punch, wearing my new necklace. Thanks Georgia!!!
NB: I look really tired in this photo (I blame the small boy with the broken leg and a distinct shortage of Touche Eclat in the house, but at least the necklace is working it eh?)