East Lothian is becoming an ever-growing hotspot for innovative, indie businesses. We chat to Laura Wilson, founder of North Berwick-based lifestyle brand, Laura Thomas Co. Beginning life in New Zealand, the range includes products from bedding to bathroom and blankets to beachwear
What do you feel is your brand’s USP?
All of our products are chemical-free. I feel strongly about putting chemical-free products on our bodies, as well as within our bodies with the food we eat. We need to take better care of our waterways, water table and oceans and we can only do this by stopping plastic fibres and chemicals running into them.
You’ve created a ‘Coastal Range’ of handmade candles, hand and shower wash and bath salts. What is it about the smells and colours of your local coastline that are perfect for weaving into a product?
Sense of smell is closely linked with memory – more so than any of our other senses. East Lothian has some amazing coastal and woodland walks. The coastal grass when you walk down to Gullane Beach for example, has a green citrusy air, while the pine in the forest beside Yellowcraig Beach gives sharp, uplifting notes of wood and spice. These smells are unique to our local coastline and are perfect for evoking memories of beach times, family and relaxation.
Can it be challenging as a business to completely address sustainability?
We have really thought about this, and that’s why we decided to use glass packaging and to have an option to refill the original product for less cost and less waste. Our packaging is 100% recycled and 100% recyclable, and we’ve tried to reduce the impact on local recycling plants by encouraging our clients to reuse and refill.
How did your time in New Zealand influence your business?
In 2014, I relocated Laura Thomas Co to Scotland from New Zealand. I was fully inspired by my 10 years of coastal living there, a way of life that sung to my core. The sun shone, the kids walked to school barefoot, and the simple beach life resonated with me. I decided while setting up camp in Gullane, East Lothian that my love of that slower pace of living would be the mindset and ethos of my life in Scotland. I moved back at a time when the UK had really begun to take note of recycling, plastic pollution, healthy eating and buying locally, so I decided that LT Co. would focus only on products that were 100% natural.
You’ve just won an award for your packaging. What was the thinking behind it?
I set out to look for a New Zealand designer for the packaging as I wanted to align with the roots of the brand. Mike Collinge really appealed as his style is creative and futuristic. We decided to tell a bit of the story behind each product on the box, and he totally understood my desire to project Scotland and my brand in a modern, fresh way.
More info at laura-thomas.com
Eco-friendly East Lothian
Enterprises with sustainability at heart
Phantassie in East Linton keep their organic vegetable boxes as local as possible, using minimal packaging.
Miixer CIC is an East Lothian-based, non-profit social enterprise which diverts a huge variety of materials from landfill for community reuse.
North Berwick’s Steampunk Coffee focus on ensuring their speciality coffee is sustainable all the way through the production chain.
The MADE Arts Hub in Haddington is a space for local artists and makers, focusing on the creative reuse of donated furniture and materials for craft projects and resale.