In the first of a new monthly feature, Gazette reporter LAURA CONNOR shines the spotlight on one of our area’s small companies. This month – Alison Brodie, of Galphay.
For most people, being made redundant from a career they love and worked hard for years to achieve would come as a devastating blow.
But for Alison Brodie, it was a blessing in disguise.
The 46-year-old from Galphay, near Ripon, transformed a wistful pipedream into reality by coverting her spare room into a makeshift laboratory and launching her own bespoke skincare range.
“I had talked about doing this for ages,” she says. “When I lost my job I thought ‘this is my opportunity to go on and do this’ after talking about it to friends and family for years.”
After losing her job from the Wetherby-based Forensic Science Service after more than 20 years service in March last year, Alison decided to combine her love for sports and fascination with science to create Brodie Skincare Recovery Phase Rehydration Cream – a new moisturiser specifically aimed at sportspeople.
Running enthusiast Alison – who is a member of Ripon Runners club with husband Pete, 50 – says exercise has always caused her skin irritation. And Alison knew she was not alone.
“I have always had a problem with my skin after running,” she explains. “The weather in particular has always affected me the most, but even sweating in the gym can be irritating for the skin. When I run the heat and sweat make my skin quite dry and sore.”
Alison’s cream uses Harrogate Spring Water and is 100 per cent alcohol, fragrance, paraben, SLS and petroleum free, making it sensitive skin-friendly and appealing for both sexes.
The cream is aimed at cooling, soothing and protecting the skin and preventing soreness caused by salts and acidic sweat build-up on the skin’s surface.
“I couldn’t find any face creams that were suitable for me,” says Alison. “So with my background in science I thought, ‘why not make my own?’.”
Alison completed a degree in biology from the University of Nottingham before working for the Forensic Science Service. After securing a skincare qualification and researching the damaging effects of wind and rain on the skin, Alison decided a stripped-back range of products was missing from the skincare market.
“Keeping things natural is very important to me and my research really opened my eyes about what many products contain and what we put on our skin. So it was vital for me to make Recovery Phase as effective but as natural as possible,” say Alison.
Her marketing as well as her ingredients are also an important aspect of the product’s design.
At the moment, the entire business is a one-woman effort, with husband Pete helping with the packaging and sales.
“The packaging deliberately looks unisex,” she says, referring to her simple blue and white design featuring a horizontal strip of double helix DNA.
“I wanted to emphasise the science aspect and my background so the double helix and shortening of Brodie Skin Care to ‘Bsc’ – to mean Bachelor of Science – works to do that.”
Alison adds that her unisex approach could help to encourage more men to understand the wonders of a good skincare regime.
“I would love to covert more men into using moisturiser. I would like to get rid of some of that machoness – although I think men use and accept it more now,” she says.
Alison has certainly converted one young man – Ripon’s resident Olympic diver Jack Laugher has endorsed Alison’s post-swim skincare product, Recovery Phase Skin.
The 17-year-old took pumps of the product to Adelaide where he struck double gold at the Junior World Championships.
Now with shampoo, wipes and body wash products also under her belt, Alison is hoping her home-run lab can be a springboard for other business ventures.
“It would be my dream to get other people on board,” says Alison, who admits she finds running all aspects of the business single-handedly a “huge challenge”.
“There are so many things involved that I have never done before. Part of my expansion plans would be to get more people on board and open up a lab in Ripon,” she says.
Although it is obvious that Alison has entrepreneurial itchy feet, her homemade lab looking out onto spectacular views of Galphay Woods seems like the perfect place to launch a start-up business.
“It’s still very early days yet,” she grins.