Chloe Luxton, 41, created Bramley, a handmade range of natural bath and body products, in 2011. She is married to hotelier Charlie and has three children, aged seven, six and three.
The year 2009 was a nightmare. My husband, Charlie, always wanted to run his own pub, so we left London and bought the eight-bedroom Beckford Arms in Wiltshire.
But only a year after we launched, the pub was gutted by a fire. It happened in the middle of the night. There were 17 guests staying — thankfully, one of them raised the alarm before it took hold. We were so lucky nobody was killed.
The pub was shut for a year, and I became pregnant with our first child, Otto. I found having a baby hard, lonely and a bit boring.
I’d been used to working for high-profile beauty companies, including the Cowshed Spa — where I met Charlie — and Green & Spring, where I learned about product development and liaising with stores. Now here I was, stuck in the country with a screaming baby.
What kept me sane was a range of natural products that I’d started designing for our pub guest bathrooms. I love Cowshed products, but they’re only stocked in affiliated hotels, and nothing else out there seemed appropriate — so the idea for Bramley was born.
I wanted to evoke the scents of the countryside — lavender, geranium, rosehip — with no chemicals or artificial colours. I worked with a Somerset-based apothecary.
Guests loved them, so we started doing mail-order. I found wrapping up and posting parcels a welcome distraction from the mundanity of looking after children.
Getting the contract for London’s The Riding House Cafe was a big moment. Then Gail’s Bakery ordered the handwash for its shops. It’s now our biggest seller.
I realised that if people use the products in nice places, they’ll want to buy them — it’s like taking the hotel experience with you.
I am always thinking about what hotel guests might need — I’ve just launched a sleep spray and children’s hair and body wash, which The Pig have ordered for their South Coast hotels.
All our essential oils are fair trade and sustainable, and the sugar cane (or glass) packaging is recyclable. We’re now stocked in 500 places.
I’m lucky I’ve been able to grow the business from my kitchen table. It saved my sanity. I love my kids, but thank goodness for Bramley.