BUSINESS Durham has been instrumental in helping a skincare entrepreneur expand her range of natural beauty products during the coronavirus outbreak.

Organic and Botanic, which is based at the Durham Dales Centre in Stanhope, Bishop Auckland, make bespoke natural skincare products using ethically sourced botanical ingredients.

Founder Margaret Goodwin, who has a degree in biomedical science and spent a career working for dermatology and plastic surgery specialists, set up the company in 2019 after one of her sons burned his arm on a kettle, suffering second degree burns. Margaret used Manuka honey which she had in her cupboard to treat it, and the burn healed leaving no trace.

This inspired Margaret along with a family history of severe skin conditions and her love of natural products to research product combinations and natural ingredients to create a range of skincare products suitable for people of all ages with sensitive skin or who suffer from conditions like psoriasis, eczema and nappy rash.

Margaret Goodwin, from Esh, said: “Establishing a business is so hard at the best of times but when you factor in that I launched Organic and Botanic not long before the start of a global pandemic, it’s fair to say the challenge has been even greater.

“I started operating from a laboratory I’d created at my home in November 2019 but just a few months later the coronavirus pandemic broke out. I quickly realised I needed proper facilities to produce my products and found the space at Durham Dales Centre, but I couldn’t move in until the first national lockdown had eased.

“At the same time, I incorporated as a limited company, but then just a few months later we were back in another lockdown which really halted progress on the business. So instead, I focused my efforts on developing the product range behind the scenes and spreading the word about the business and the types of products I sell.”

In addition to helping Margaret find her business space at the Durham Dales Centre, Business Durham, the economic development arm of Durham County Council, has also facilitated an introduction to CPI (Centre for Process Innovation) to help her develop her product range.

CPI is a leading independent technology innovation centre and is based at the North East Technology Park (NETPark) in Sedgefield. It works closely with academia, industry, and the government to bridge the gap between innovation and commercialisation.

The centre helps companies quickly and cost-effectively bring their innovative ideas to market and Margaret is now working in partnership with CPI to develop the latest addition to her Organic and Botanic range, a barrier cream – which must strictly adhere to cosmetic industry standards.

The Organic and Botanic range, which is available to buy online and through the gift shop at the Durham Dales Centre, includes soaps, bath bombs, body butters, beard oils and moisturisers, among others.

Margaret added: “I am really excited about the business and working with the likes of Business Durham and CPI to expand my range. It’s only 14 months since I launched so to have the support of an organisation like CPI is fantastic.

“As someone with extremely sensitive skin, I know how important it is that the products I use are made from natural, fresh ingredients and that’s what I wanted to achieve from the Organic and Botanic range. It’s very early days but already the feedback I’ve had from customers that have tried my products has been excellent.

“I am so passionate about what I do and am looking forward to getting through the coronavirus pandemic and really establishing my business.”

Sarah Slaven, interim Managing Director of Business Durham, said: “Margaret is applying all of her experience, both personally and professionally, to launch a business in an area she is incredibly passionate about, which as anyone who runs a business will testify is one of the key ingredients to success.

“As a Business Durham tenant part of our role is to signpost businesses to the fantastic support that is available in the area. The National Formulations Centre managed by CPI is an incredible facility based at NETPark, right here in County Durham. It’s exciting to see entrepreneurs like Margaret and other businesses from around the County utilise the facilities, guidance and expertise available to develop new and innovative products.  With the support of Business Durham and CPI, which is helping Margaret develop a barrier cream, she has every chance of establishing her business as a leader in the natural skincare field.”