It’s interesting to hear or read articles during the last few months on people reflecting on their lives during lockdown and the knock-on effect that slow living has had for them. One such article in a newspaper a few weeks ago was about a couple who realized that they worked so hard pre lockdown, never saw each other, they hated their boss, and jobs and decided that neither would return to their jobs.
There have been a lot of changes at Laura Thomas Co too during lockdown. Running the business myself during this time, took me back to when I was starting out and all production, marketing, admin, finances, literally every aspect of the business was done by me. Bizarrely I took comfort doing this. It made me reflect on the journey so far, what changes were needed and how I was going to move LT Co. forward.
How Did LTCo Start?
In 2006 I was walking through the weekly craft and food market in Nelson, New Zealand and I can across a lady selling hand-embroidered bedding she had sent from Vietnam by her Mum who lived there. It was beautiful quality and bedding I hadn’t come across before. This encounter planted a seed.
A few years later, in 2011, I set up an online homeware site focused on bedding, sourced from Vietnam (obviously) and I added, firstly, a Lavender pure soy and 100% natural candle to the product offering, soon followed by a Christmas candle. Both products still are in existence now and have stuck with the range for 9 years!
Images | Laura Thomas Co
The reason for starting LTCo was firstly inspired by my love of design and homewares. Secondly, as I wanted an online business that I thought would be as easy as selling products as I slept. How naive was I?
“At the time I was living in New Zealand and renovating Cafes. Buying cafes that had gone bust, redesigning them, getting them trading, and putting them back on the market. It was during this time I fell into interiors and realized how much I loved design and quality products”.
Fast forward to 2014, for personal reasons, I relocated back to Scotland and Laura Thomas Co came with me!
“There was then a dramatic shift. The UK market was saturated with white bedding. Being that this was the product that LT Co. was solely focused on alongside the newly created all-natural Lavender (and Christmas) Soy Candle which had been launched just before leaving New Zealand, I decided to change the LT Co. direction. Inspired by my 10 years of coastal living in New Zealand which had sung to my core. The sun shone, kids walked to school barefoot, the simple beach life and slower pace of the day resonated with me”.
I decided that my love of the slower pace of living in New Zealand would be the mindset and the ethos of life in Scotland. I set up camp as a single mother, by the beach in Gullane, East Lothian with my two little girls then aged 4 and 6.
At a time when the UK began to take note of recycling, no plastic, healthy eating, yoga and buying locally and buying natural products, which New Zealand was light years ahead of, I decided that LT Co. would focus on only products for the home that was 100% natural.
Inspired by Scotland
Inspired when out walking along the coastal paths of East Lothian, my desire to steer LT Co. to create products that were purely sensory for our homes became a very clear vision.
I found the smells and colours of her local coastline extremely uplifting, energising, calming and forced me to be mindful and present at that moment.
It was on those walks that I realised that scent and colour are very important to well being.
The LT Co. product offering began to expand. An all-natural candle range was created using 100% pure soy wax, essential oils and cotton wicks and later a matching scent diffuser range.
Thereafter, the range expanded again to offer pure cotton and very colourful blankets, towels and beach wares.
A Lucky Break
In December 2017, LT Co. was featured in The Times Newspaper as a leading brand for natural candles and homewares. There was a direct link to the site from The Times’ online edition and it saw a change in traffic, sales and customers shopping with LT Co.
Move to North Berwick Workshop and Staff Expansion
In 2018 LT Co. moved to North Berwick and began to recruit staff. The range started to expand past soy candles, scent diffusers, into toiletries consisting of; hand wash, shower wash, shampoo, conditioner, hand and body lotion, bath salts, all handmade and hand-poured in the new North Berwick workshop. All ingredients sourced for production are sourced from the UK.
LT Co. also designs all homewares in house and works alongside hand-picked suppliers in Portugal, Vietnam, Turkey, Greece and Morocco. Working directly with suppliers allows for passing on good prices for quality homewares. As well as strict quality control checks. It has never been my intension to work through an intermediary company nor middleman.
May 2020. Sustainability and Circular Economy
The LT Co. range has had rebranded packaging. We are excited to announce that all packaging moving forward will be made out of recycled coffee cups. We are aiming to roll this out over the whole range by the end of 2020. There are at least five used 8oz cups in one sheet of 380gsm paper. The paper is created in a Mill in the UK.
What’s Next for the LT Co. Journey?
The aim is for LT Co. to be a leading supplier of the toiletries and homewares industry focusing on the circular economy with recycling and reusing. I have reflected a lot about this during lockdown. Just like the couple who aren’t going back to their jobs that I read about in the newspaper, lockdown has allowed me to reflect, discovery and think about further increasing the sustainability of our Oceans, Waterways and local recycling plants and how a business can add maximum impact to reduce waste.
Watch this space..
and thanks for reading, Laura x