Life is full of surprises, and you being here reading my story is a winding path of a six year dream that blossomed with hope, love and determination.
My name is Chloe, and I am the co-owner of Pretty Suds.
Before the business began, I struggled through university with my mental health. I am a really creative person (I get that from my granddad Tom!), but I was failing in modules that required arithmetic. I tried so hard, and it wasn't until my 4th year after reaching out to the University, there was suggestions of mild dyspraxia based on my struggles of organising maths sequences in my mind. Any organisation task isn't my strong point, but pretty stationary is my favourite!
But you know, you've got to wear these things like armour! You can make your own unique path and it doesn't matter how long it takes you to get there, as long as you're smiling every step of the way. Do what you feel in your heart.
It was at this confusing time in my life, the first bath bomb was made, with the help of my mum Julie. I was chosen for a small bursary from Sir Michael and Lady Morven Heller who kindly helped fund my first equipment and supplies.
I established a little Etsy store and as if by magic, by changing my mindset started my new path and the next six years. I found comfort in creating something that was making other people smile. In return, this made me smile too. I become close to so many customers that were struggling with self harm, and my little creations were healing their wounds both mentally and physically with the gift of self care and relaxation.
After exhausting my parent's garage (thank you mum and dad!) and meeting top bath bomb maker and co-owner Jake, we moved into a house in which our first stock room was made with 14 different bath bombs and soaps. Quickly, the master bedroom become the stockroom and before we knew it, we were moving onto our first business premises. It's crazy to think that our kitchen was for making products and we fed ourselves with takeaways and microwave meals for so long... but it was worth it!
With help from Rotherham council, we moved into an old Victorian school building in Treeton. I once took a visit to the old coal heating system in the basement and since that day every creaky door gave me the creeps! But again, we were growing so fast we used the school's old kitchen and three classrooms and it was time to move to our forever home on Barbott Hall, Parkgate.
Things started to get really exciting when I won three awards on the day of my graduation. I remember this moment fondly as I collected the reward and within a blink of an eye I was collecting my degree. It finally felt like all the hard work had finally paid off!
I donated 1/3 of the cash award to Brain Cancer Research to in memory of my friend who'd passed away when I started the creating bath products. My fondest memory of him was his love for life, and it gave me motivation to seize the day!
The other 2/3 of the award I used to give the business the boost it needed to get started. Thank you to the businesses that sponsored the awards I received. We were able to start suppling independent shops up and down the country and had an army of wonderful fans that I'd love chatting too. Pretty Suds was becoming the real deal and it was so exciting!
We began a bath bomb subscription box which is one of the biggest in the UK and we're constantly outdoing ourselves on them every month. When we finish the design work of the month's box you can find us beaming around the unit about our creations ready to go into the big production. They start as little drawings, expanded into 3D models, formed into moulds and then produced. The whole team get involved in this process, which makes it extra exciting when we see our drawings come to life!
On a rainy afternoon in 2018, an email landed in our inbox from a lady called Lauren from Boots. At first, I was scared that this was someone playing with us. It wasn't until myself, my business partner Jake and my dad (chief salesman and absolute hero) were outside the Boots head office ready to talk about quantities that it really hit home that the dream come true.
To succeed in our first boots contract Christmas 2018, everyone and the postman come down to help achieve the order. My fondest memory of that year was watching the pallets be loaded onto the truck in August and crying my little heart out as they drove off into the sunset.
The products were so successful, we then supplied another year with an order five fold of the original order. We are so lucky to have been given such an amazing opportunity, but in our hearts we were losing our independent touch and made the brave decision to go back independent in 2020. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever imagine my creations to be in a high street store as big as Boots and we loved every minute of it!
Along the way we've supported so many good causes, I love to involve people in the shaping of the business. My favourite day was with this bunch of girlies in the photo above. We made some bath bombs eggs and at first, the girls learnt quickly the art of the pushing is something you've got to master. They were so patient and after two hours of determination they made a beautiful bunch of eggs to share with their friends and family. Such a warm fuzzy feeling moment!
The world is such a beautiful place when you open up your heart and mind. I'm so proud of what we've achieved, the phenomenal original products we've created and how lucky I am to share this with so many fans across the world. It honestly chokes me up when I write about my journey because it involves so many people and enriches their lives too.
My biggest life lesson was not letting my flaws shape me, but instead use them as armour. Everything we've created has and still is from the grassroots and we're constantly learning with an open mind. Using local businesses, creative people and giving opportunities to blossom others in their dreams too.
If you believe in yourself, good things with come to you, I promise.
Over the years we've had over 100 people come down to HQ and get knee deep in bath bombs. We've been lucky to have a great family to support our huge projects financially, and amazing friends that dropped everything to see our dreams come to life. When things got tough, we could always count on our family and friends to help us through. The good times are extra special knowing that we are surrounded by an amazing support bubble. Thank you so much to everyone, you made the dream come true. Especially my business partner Jake, who won't let me toot about him too much but he's put in so many hours in the kitchen making the products we create. He's the bread to my butter and to share this journey together has been so special, and I really appreciate everything he's done to make it happen.
We'd like to take a moment to specially thank;
- Our work mum Julie for all her wax knowledge and supporting us through thick and thin with lots of love. And my dad for supporting me with sales, numbers and the tricky things I can't work out on my own.
- Sam Knowles for his constant positivity and stopping at nothing to make sure that things get done. We love you so much Sam.
- Ash Clowry for his dedication during both Boots contracts, supporting us when we really needed a friend. and of course, his dedication to Post Malone in 2018
- Ross Cooper for being brave and taking on big projects without any knowledge of the task. Always will to learn and make things better. We're so proud of how far you've come Rossco!