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 Marili Aitken from Marili Skincare and Magical Little World.
Tell us about yourself and your company.
I grew up in Zimbabwe and although I was surrounded by beautiful natural habitat, I was also a young person in a culture where women did not pursue a career nor were they encouraged to. Our place was firmly barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. When I was 24 I was forced to flee my homeland and arrived in the UK with £370, no job, no family and slept on the floor in a friend’s lounge.
It was the birth of my son that was the catalyst to allow me to fulfil my ambition of having my own business, something I could not easily pursue in Zimbabwe. Having being brought up on home grown organic food and bathing in pure, gentle, underground spring water, I wanted to give my son the same natural experience. I was overwhelmed by a shelf full of products claiming to be organic/natural….but were far from it.
After extensive research, in 2015 I launched an organic, SLS, paraben free skincare range for children based on the lives of 5 African animals who live on the banks of the Zambezi river in Zimbabwe. My passion, my homeland in one. Since launching we have won 8 awards and been shortlisted to a further 4 and are stocked in over 80 stores.
How did you get started?
I went on every course on natural and organic formulating that I possibly could and started of formulating my own range in the evenings and weekends as I worked full time and had two small children. After many years of R&D I tested out the range in a high end salon which gave us brilliant feedback and allowed us to tweak packaging etc. I then started attending loads of trade shows and started getting stocked in stores.
What were you doing in a previous life?
I have done many things since arriving in the UK in Oct 2001 from caring, photocopying invoices to more recently Project Managing for a large corporate. Initially it was sink or swim and take on any job you could to ensure I didn’t end up homeless, so having my own business was the first time I was able to do something I really wanted to do. Obviously doing this on top of a full time stressful career is not easy but it pays the bills especially as I launched the brand whilst going through a divorce and being a single mum.
My background was a degree in wellness, nutrition, sports science, biochemistry, physiology so it is wonderful to be able to go back to that and incorporate this ethos of wellness in my brand.
Why natural / organic / sustainable?
For me it’s a no brainer – according to the National Academy of Science even low level exposure to pesticides can have behavioural and neurological effects on us. Children’s cells are so much more vulnerable so we need to take extra care of them. I don’t want to compromise on this, so have kept my range as organic as possible. Organic ingredients are grown without the use of toxic pesticides and can’t be genetically modified so they are so much more beneficial to us, the environment and wildlife.
What’s your USP? What sets you apart from your competitors?
We are organic, as there are lots of natural children’s ranges out there we don’t compromise on ingredients and our packaging is uniquely African inspired, as is the story of each of our characters.
What kind of feedback you have received from clients?
Many parents have commented how their children’s eczema has improved or in some cases completely disappeared after using our body washes for their kids, which is such wonderful feedback to get and kids love our fun, wild packaging and animations.
What’s the next big launch / project coming up for you?
We have some lovely new products being launched this year and also a new brand called Magical Little World with enchanting fairy doors, accessories and organic bath time products for children. Cuteness overload, so watch this space.
What’s your big dream?
To be a global leader in organic skincare bringing high quality products to the mass market and to bring enchanting products to fuel children’s imagination and draw them away from the all too increasing addiction to screens.
Where can we find your products?
We are stocked in over 70 stores details of which will soon be on our website or you can find us online: