Let me ask you a question – would you go to any dentist in any town for your routine check-up? Are you happy to go to any hairdresser who has an appointment? The answer will be no! – we do business with those we like know and trust!

As customers we want to know if we can ‘like know and trust’ the companies we buy from so in this series we ask the person behind some of my favourite natural and organic companies to step out into the spotlight

It’s the turn of Andrew Thomas, Founder and Managing Director of BetterYou

Tell us about yourself and your company? How did you get started?

Although originally a Pembrokeshire lad my father was a printer and so we moved a fair bit with his job, living much of my early childhood in Singapore. Later schooled in Northamptonshire and University in Nottingham and finally settled in the beautiful county of Yorkshire.

I believe BetterYou epitomises everything that is exciting and dynamic about the natural health industry, concentrating on delivery methods that provide optimal absorption for the key nutrient deficiencies that are plaguing our modern lifestyles. We may not like the way our society is styling our health but the only way we can improve quality is to accept the way it is going and either adjust the elements of diet and exercise that are within our power and compensate for the rest with quality, natural and efficacious supplements.

What were you doing in a previous life?

After graduating in Business Management, majoring in Marketing, I joined a publishing company and launched a number of magazines within the specialist interest market. Having failed at launching my own male-focused lifestyle title in the 90’s I joined Wrangler Jeans as head of Retail Marketing for Northern Europe. I left Wrangler to join an MBO within an amazingly vibrant marketing and design agency, working with a number of wonderful international brands as well as some tremendously talented friends and colleagues. It was while I was on a photoshoot in the US that I was introduced to what was to become my future.

Why natural / organic / sustainable?

I have been an asthmatic since the age of 12. You learn to live with it, or at least deal with it as best you can, but it was a chance meeting with a bio-chemist named Juan Rosello who turned my life around. It was while I was working in the US and Juan was one of a number of medical professionals working with a select group of major American sporting teams primarily investigating the role magnesium plays in muscle recovery after exertion. Over dinner he educated me on the role an increased intake of magnesium, along with a reduction of calcium, would play in my condition, allowing a relaxation of my bronchial muscles and airways. The difference in what they were investigating was magnesium being supplemented through the skin, called transdermal magnesium therapy. The experience for me was amazing and I was convinced that I needed to share this with others who may benefit. To be honest I thought it was going to be a rather small list of people but I continue to be over-whelmed by the growing number of people who understand and benefit from the supplementation of magnesium. As for me I have not taken a steroid inhaler now for over seven years.

What’s your USP? What sets you apart from your competitors?

The key for me was the provenance of the magnesium source. I located the one mine that demonstrated a true expertise in both its extraction but also its analysis. The Zechstein Inside Mine in Northern Holland was an education. They mine the most naturally pure source of magnesium chloride known. Magnesium Chloride is the compound that is most soluble, best absorbed and best retained by the body, so perfect for transdermal application. Every batch is chemically fingerprinted to ensure absolute quality and I was so impressed with the standards maintained. Bert and Dave, both geologists who run the mine, were a little incredulous at first but agreed that the health market was an excellent opportunity for both of us and so transdermal magnesium therapy was born.

I was aware that the natural health industry within the UK was relatively small and expectations of quality and integrity were exceptionally high so I knew that BetterYou had to excel in product testing. It became an obsession. Even now every product we produce has been batch tested, that’s every batch produced, to show absorption, stability and active delivery, using laboratories from the UK to Denmark.

Our absorption testing is undertaken by Dr Charles Heard and his team at Cardiff University and it was during one of our assessment meetings that he introduced me to intraoral spray supplementation. This was in 2009 and I was working on a coconut oil-based vitamin D supplement in conjunction with the late Jan de Vries and Charles suggested that we could potentially get better absorption if we deliver the vitamin into the bloodstream by bypassing the digestive system. We tested it and it worked and so BetterYou’s range of oral spray was born.

The key to our attractiveness is three-fold. We use the finest ingredients possible, making sure that all products are suitable for those on a vegetarian, diabetic or gluten-free diet. Where possible these are natural, food-state and food-sourced. Of course the products must be safe and must have a functional shelf-life and so this is where clever processing takes place but we minimise this as much as possible and this, we believe helps with the second point.

Effective absorption is essential. If the body cannot absorb and retain the nutrient being supplemented it’s a complete waste of money. Our products are formulated to deliver a guaranteed level of absorption. The mucosal membrane within the mouth is perfect for the delivery of certain nutrients, by-passing processing by the digestive system, and directly entering the blood-stream. This particularly suitable for those with malabsorption issues such as colitis, coeliac disease, Crohn’s disease, pancreatic enzyme disorder and so on. In fact the health problems resulting from malabsorption issues are now costing the NHS more money than the treatment of diabetes. We can no long rely solely upon out increasingly inefficient gut and so alternatives delivery mechanisms make complete sense. The key here is that a level of absorption can be guaranteed, something traditional tablets and capsules are unable to do because of variability of digestion from person to person. Most recently we were privileged to be named by Weight-Loss Scotland as the only supplement they recommend for patients undergoing bariatric operations.

The third point is that people simply love the convenience. As there is no requirement for water the oral sprays can be taken at anytime and anywhere.

What kind of feedback have you received from clients?

We have the most amazing customer base who consistently humble us with their positive feedback, not only to us but also to friends and family which is probably an even greater compliment. People will tend to buy our products because they find that they have a low level of vitamin D and B12 and need to an effective and sustainable way of elevating levels, or they have physiological symptom relating to magnesium insufficiency, poor sleep, muscle cramping, stiffness or poor flexibility. People only come back if a product works and they only tell their friends if it works well.

What’s the next big launch / project coming up for you?

New product development continues to represent an important aspect of the future of BetterYou and we currently have three new oral spray formulations in absorption trial at this moment. We will not launch a product for the sake of it however. There are plenty of potential products we could develop but if we do not fundamentally believe that there is a need for the product or that it will provide better absorption than supplements that are already available then we will not consider it. However our desire for research knowledge about transdermal magnesium therapy and oral spray delivery has allowed us access so some amazing organisations and we are currently sponsoring the World’s first clinical trial investigating the use of transdermal magnesium as a way of correcting low magnesium within NHS patients. Most recently we were invited to present our finding to FC Barcelona, probably the most influential football club in the world! It couldn’t be more exciting!

What’s your big dream?

My big dream is to make BetterYou a household name. It’s difficult to think that only eight years ago I was on my own and now we have a team of 23 and operate in 20 countries. Until now we’ve focused primarily on the individual products, educating and nurturing quite focused markets. We now must look at the bigger picture and make people aware of the brand that’s behind them. This is expensive to do well and easier said than done but it’s a dream and so far dreams can become reality.

Where can we find your products ?

The products can be found in Fortnum & Masons, SpaceNK, VictoriaHealth.com, Holland & Barrett, selected Tesco’s as well as independent health stores and pharmacies around the country.