Laura Thomas tells us about her North Berwick lifestyle business
She now has a shop on the High Street and a new collection
Since launching back in 2014, her eponymous business, Laura Thomas Co, has continued to grow from her North Berwick workshop and base.
As well as her online shop, she now also has a boutique on the town’s High Street, which originally opened as a pop-up at the end of last year, but became permanent back in March 2022.
For those not au fait, the company sells an edited range of eco-friendly homeware and beauty products. You can invest in a colourful spotty hand towels, blanket, or cushion, element-inspired candles that smell of wood, fire, waves or sand, a Skinny Dip soap bar with eucalyptus, peppermint and sea kelp, as well as their hand wash in Citrus + Herb or Forest varieties. Everything is plastic free and presented in packaging that’s made from recycled coffee cups.
However, the most recent launch from the company is a collection of Rose Bath Oil and Rose Bath Salts, which smell like Turkish delight and have crumpled petals in them (but not too many, so cleaning your tub doesn’t become an issue).
We speak to Thomas about her coastal company.
Why the new bath products?
Throughout the pandemic our Lavender Bath Salts were so popular as people looked to treat and look after themselves. So we decided we needed a bath oil as well. We've had a great response to this new product from our clients. It’s made with 100 per cent natural ingredients. Adding a small amount to a bath will aid relaxation, nourish the skin and is not harmful to the planet when washed down the drain.
Does living in North Berwick inspire you as much as New Zealand did?
I lived in New Zealand during my twenties and early thirties which is a hugely influential time in anyone's life. Life there taught me about who I am, what my values are and most importantly opened my eyes to a desire to live as close to nature as possible. Life in North Berwick is just a continuation of my realisation and is a perfect and inspiring place to live, rear children and grow a business at this stage of life.
What other local businesses do you rate?
Osteria Restaurant for the best Italian food (they are right beside the LTCO shop on the High Street), Kilduff Farm for their super pumpkin festival in October, Williamstone Farm Steading Accommodation for their interiors, Herringbone for cocktails and good times, Steampunk Coffee and Great Escapes for clothing and wetsuits.
Does the brand keep growing, or have you had difficult spells?
We are so grateful because we have just kept growing year on year. Of course Covid was difficult and like many business owners I found myself running the business alone and was pregnant as well, which was not easy. The brand pivoted to supplying natural, refillable toiletries to the hotel industry pre-Covid and the pandemic allowed us to gain further recognition, as many people chose to holiday in the UK and discovered LTCO when using our products where they were staying.
Who are your favourite stockists, do you have any new ones and who would be the ultimate?
We love being stocked in Gleneagles Hotel, which is a true honour, as well as the Wildland Hotel Group which has an incredible 200 year sustainable vision for their five Highland Estates. We also love being stocked in Ballintaggart in Perthshire, The Taybank in Dunkeld, Jolly Nice in Gloucestershire, Five Acre Barn in Suffolk and Fforest in Wales. We are currently speaking to Fortnum & Mason, who would be the ultimate stockists.
What's next, as far as launches go?
We have a facial skin care range launching this autumn which is very exciting.
What have been your best-sellers, and why were they so popular?
Our Flowers + Wood Hand Wash is our bestseller by far. Like all our products, it's natural. The scent is a mix of flowers; geranium and rose and wood; cedarwood and patchouli and the scent lingers on your hands after use. We have had people who have bad dermatitis use it and let us know that it didn't irritate their skin at all.
Who is your average customer?
80 per cent of our clients are women who care about natural beauty and living and are looking to be more sustainable without compromising on luxury. We'd love more men to buy our products as our ranges are produced to be unisex.
Are you always looking for ways to be more eco-friendly when designing collections?
Absolutely. Every new product and its packaging is analysed on how it can be more sustainable. We used to have cotton bedding in our range however stopped stocking it as we became very conscious of where materials are being manufactured. Our bedding originally came from Vietnam which is too big a carbon footprint for the Laura Thomas Co brand ethos.
How big is your team, and what is your work environment like?
We are currently a team of eight between our workshop and retail shop. Our working environment is fun, though hardworking. Everyone on the team is on the same mission: to grow the business. There are great staff perks such as weekly yoga at the workshop and I'm trying to do more regular team events now that we are moving away from the pandemic.