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

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Front Page -

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

Betty Rodgers at Don­aghadee har­bour and (be­low) one of the prod­ucts she has pro­duced un­der the A Bliss­ful Blend la­bel

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