How Betty’s calming balm helps eczema sufferers
SMALL BUSINESS CAN The founder of eczema cream A Blissful Blend tells Lisa Smyth about how her granddaughter’s
Most people in their sixties are looking forward to their retirement. However, having celebrated her 64th birthday recently, Betty Rodgers has no intention of slowing down.
The grandmother from Donaghadee, Co Down, set up A Blissful Blend last year and now has ambitious plans for her fledgling business — hoping her range of moisturising products will be sold in shops across Northern Ireland.
While Betty wants to make a success of A Blissful Blend, the business started quite by accident.
“I didn’t set out to start up a business,” she says.
“I have a granddaughter who has eczema and she would get itchy skin on her warm spots.
“She was being prescribed various creams but she would still wake up in the morning with very irritated skin on her warm spots where she would have been scratching all night.”
Betty, who had a long running interest in natural products, set about researching different ingredients on the internet to try to help her granddaughter.
“Annie was five at the time and my aim was to find a cream that would break the cycle of itching and scratching using natural butters and essential oils,” says Betty.
“It wasn’t very severe eczema, it was quite mild, but I felt like I should try and do something.
“I didn’t have any experience beforehand of making moisturising cream so I just kept researching the internet.
“I played around with a lot of different ingredients, but the most important thing to me was that it was all natural.
“There are a number of companies that you can buy base creams from if you want to make your own product.
“It was important to me that the product I made was unrefined and natural and I also had to find exactly the right essential oil because if you use too much it can burn the skin.
“My daughter was very trusting and let me develop a moisturising cream and tried it out on Annie.
“I didn’t create a cure for eczema, I would be sitting on a yacht if I had managed to do that, but what I did do was create a moisturising cream that helped to ease her itching.”
Betty continued to make the cream to help her granddaughter — but the idea for turning A Blissful Blend into an enterprise came from a chance comment from a local businesswoman.
“I was making it for other people as well as Annie as it brought her some relief and then other people started to use it for themselves and their children as well,” she says.
“I happened to be speaking to a girl who owns a gift shop in Donaghadee and she asked me why I wasn’t selling the cream and that’s what started me thinking.
“Of course, selling it is a whole different ball game and there are certain standards that you have to meet.
“For example, I didn’t want it to contain any preservatives, which means that I have to mark on the cream that it has to be used within six months of opening.
“I know that my cream lasts for 12 months but I have to stay on the safe side and put down six months,” says Betty
“The big well-known brands all have preservatives in them so they last a lot longer, because most of them probably sit in the store room for six months before they even make it onto the shelf. “I had to have my cream officially tested, it had to be certified, so I sent it off to see if it met those standards and I was absolutely delighted when I heard back that it did. “I actually said to my husband at the time that I didn’t care if I didn’t sell one thing, I was just so pleased that it was safe and I had met all the necessary standards.”
With the green light given to sell her moisturising cream, Betty then set about starting up A Blissful Blend.
In keeping with the original inspiration for the product, she turned to her granddaughter once again for a name for her business.
“She used to rub the cream in and tell me that it was bliss,” says Betty.
“I think she would be quite happy if I called it Nana’s Itchy Cream, but that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.
“I have also developed a calm balm which I made for another granddaughter when she was studying for her AQE.
“She would put it on before she was going to bed.”
Brand development was important to Betty and she drew upon her location and got her daughter’s help when designing the containers for her products.
“The tins have to be a particular material so they don’t get rusty and we used blue as the colour to reflect the fact that we are close to the seaside,” she says.
“My daughter is a photographer and she helped me with the design of the labels.
“The creams smell lovely but that is just as a result of the oils that I use, rather than something I have done deliberately.
“I make all the products at home and you can always tell when I am making them from