Meet Joe Poxon from Rugged Nature
Are you able to give us some insight into the inspiration behind Rugged Nature and where it all began?
My mother suffers from asthma and noticed that a hair product my bother used caused a flare up. We did some digging and found recipes for homemade products, tried a few, but none of them really worked.
We tried shopping around to find more natural products, and couldn’t find anything, so decided to try making our own.
It started as a product for my brother, then is expanded to friends, then selling on eBay and Artisan markets – soon we were contacted by a couple of shop owners who has seen us at markets and bought our products and wanted to sell in their shops.
This opened our eyes to a gap in the market, and it was a really good opportunity for us to grow a business.
Natural ingredients, as your name suggests, are the keystone to your brand and products. Did you find it challenging to unpick the ‘natural’ ingredient world, as this can be rife with greenwashing?
I would say yes and no. We started Rugged Nature when there was a movement toward natural ingredients, so we were able to get good quality ingredients wholesale, however, finding essential oils was more difficult. We bought some essential oils in bulk and found that there were different from a sample we had bought. We did some investigation and found that the sample was actually a non-essential oil synthetic product which had been labelled as an essential oil. It look a lot of digging to establish this, and we contacted the supplier to let them know, but they were adamant it was an essential oil.
Rugged Nature has taken off since its conception, what would you have been doing if you had not gone this route?
I finished my degree 2 months ago I was studying product design & have always had an interest in business. I am working full time on Rugged Nature at the moment & was during my studies at University. The Covid19 situation helped with balancing both, as I was studying at home.
You mention that your products are ‘tested on students, not animals’ are you able to tell us a bit more about that.
I gave samples to my friends and brother’s friends to try. I was involved with a lot of groups at university so was able to get honest feedback from people. I would hand out samples at the pub or at parties and ask people to score the products. It was a great way to get direct, honest feedback and see the company and brand from other people’s perspective.
Your product packaging is largely plastic free, was being eco-friendly and making changes something you were doing before you started Rugged Nature, or did the journey with your own products prompt you to make changes in your own life?
We fell into the plastic free packaging, as natural products and plastic free have a natural overlap. I wasn’t actively trying to pollute the world, but I would say my approach to it was average. My primary concern was to create products that were natural and had a low scent.
My outlook has changed since Rugged Nature began and I am in the community with people who are eco-conscious. I think I take a pragmatic approach but wonder how we got so far so quickly with plastic pollution.
Do you have an tips, or advice, for people who are looking to make the change to more natural products?
Don’t get hung up on the products you used before. When you switch to more natural based products, you will find they smell, look, feel and are used differently. It is important to know that there will be this difference otherwise you are setting yourself up for a fail.
What was your stand-out ‘I did not know that’ moment when you started looking at product ingredients?
I didn’t know about the requirement for professional testing and the requirements for products to be tested for men & women. I was attending an artisan market to sell the range, and the organiser asked me to bring the CPSR certificate with me. It was a big shock for me, especially as a student to have the financial outlay and time to go through the process. We took the time to understand it properly and have our products certified.
What has been your proudest moment with Rugged Nature so far?
I featured on 10 billboards in the UK earlier this year, while wearing my pants and a top with the slogan ‘Are you video call ready?’, it was an opportunity that arose due to lockdown, so we took it.
With Rugged Nature, I started selling the products at markets, then shop owners started to contact me to but the range wholesale, and one day I was say in a uni lecture and got an order for £1.6k, for a student that was an incredible feat, and made me realise we had something.
What’s next for Rugged Nature?
There are plans for new products in 2021, which will feature blended scents which is a move from our current range – watch this space…