With a degree in textile design and a successful career in marketing in London, Tam Mason decided to take a leap and move to Somerset just before Christmas 2001. With no family or friends in the county, she admits that it was "slightly daunting" but it soon became clear that Somerset was not only going to become Tam’s much-loved home, but also the inspiration for her own line of skincare.
Tam: "After our move to the county, children followed and the normal juggling of family life began. Then in 2009 I became interested in making my own skincare products using natural ingredients – specifically hand creams, as I constantly had dry and sore hands. Any busy mum will sympathise! I wanted to blend a hand cream that was as natural as possible. I took the time to develop my knowledge of pure and natural ingredients within the skincare field, particularly those that were relevant to hand care. I then launched a small range of handmade hand creams using carefully sourced ingredients including beeswax and, after a great response, I sold them for a couple of years online and through local markets and shops."
Tam began to trial a sugar scrub within the range and it was this product that she says became a clear favourite, and consistently received the most interest from her customers. However her home life had to take priority and work stopped on developing the product further.
Tam: "A major house renovation and move followed so the business was put on hold for a while. Following the move to Over Stratton (a hamlet in South Petherton) in 2014, I couldn't wait to start developing the sugar scrub product again as I had a hunch that these really held the secret to long term nourishment for the hands. I knew that it would be about spreading the message though – a scrub doesn’t always seem the obvious way to nourish and soften skin!"
This time Tam wanted to do things slightly and, whilst developing the range, she set about combining her love of design with her passion for exceptional quality.
Tam: "I wanted to produce the perfect boxed gift or treat for a customer and one that would stand out at point of sale and customers would want to pick up and learn more about. I have chosen the ingredients to ensure that hard-working hands are nourished naturally. The blends are packed with natural Vitamin E offering long-term rehydration for the skin, and the sweet almond oil provides a gentle, mild and hypoallergenic base that the skin can fully absorb – hence the 'Feed Your Skin' tagline associated with the brand. The base of organic sugar provides the perfect source to softer skin – there’s not a microbead in sight."
After a lot of hard work and experimentation, Tam launched her range with five blends in September 2016: Sandalwood and Green Mandarin, Frankincense and Ylang Ylang, Lavender, Unscented, and, her current favourite, Bergamot and Blood Orange. All the scrubs are handmade, blended and packaged in Over Stratton, surrounded by stunning Somerset views and apple orchards. And Tam has exciting plans to add more scrubs to her collection.
Tam: "Customers often comment that the fragrance of the scrubs are good enough to eat, which is a wonderful compliment to the blend combinations I settled on. I worked hard to combine a really balanced aroma – one that was not overpowering but when gently warmed on the skin leaves the customer uplifted. I am currently developing three more blends to add to the range: Mint and Cedarwood, Rose and Patchouli, and Ginger and Grapefruit. They will all ‘Feed Your Skin’ and help hard working hands."
Tam has a supportive – and varied – customer base and happily admits that she has been excited about their response to her products.
Tam: "The results speak for themselves – the scrubs do exactly what they promise and gently ‘Feed Your Skin’ with long-lasting results. To use them simply choose your favourite blend, rub a small amount on your dry hands, gently rinse off under warm running water and pat dry. Once sampled customers are really surprised by the results. We have a very wide customer base – gardeners, chefs, florists, decorators, the equine market, mums of all ages, and artists, to name a few. The scrubs are designed to be the perfect gift. But once the box is opened, the tin is also attractive enough for it to remain in the kitchen or bathroom and become the 'go to' product when hands need a boost."
So why does Tam love Somerset?
Tam: "The obvious answer is that it really does feel like home now. We have made so many wonderful friends and are surrounded by stunning countryside; the coastline and beaches are not too far away; there is a wealth of wonderful food and drink producers to choose from as well as lots of creative people who are passionate about their businesses. This helps create a real warmth, honesty and energy too. We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else now."