Breaking Bad in Dorset

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“Unit to rent” the sign read. The setting couldn’t be more idyllic. In the middle of a field surrounded by the most glorious and picturesque English countryside stood a collection of eighteenth Century barns. It was a hot Summer’s day and I was driving past preoccupied by the narrative in my head of the preceding day’s  meeting . The words rang clearly in my ears; they were words that I had heard many times over the previous 5 years in my quest to find a manufacturer for my range of skin care products.

These products or my babies as I had come to look upon them I had been studiously formulating and perfecting for 5 years, hunting down rare ingredients, testing, testing and testing again to be sure they really worked. My patients had become my testing ground and trust me they are my best and sometimes worse critics. If they didn’t think something worked they would be the first to tell me. They too had been the biggest driving force in my quest to bring my products to the market. Having used the products and seen how they worked they begged me for more.

I was unable to supply them and we had an ever increasing waiting list in my clinic with names eager to purchase my products as soon as I could fix my manufacturing problem  “we are sorry but your formulations really are too complicated for us. Your ingredients are too expensive and difficult to source, your packaging too complicated to fill”

So, with these words still ringing in my ears I pulled over.

And that was the beginning of my becoming not just a creator and formulator of my range but now my own manufacturer.

The sign on the door to the unit read “Back on track” a local lady making curtains had been the previous tennant. Those words were like a good omen and couldn’t have been more appropriate because that was what I was doing..Getting back on track after months of disappointment and delays and let downs

I put my team together The A team..  I am inordinately grateful to them for their kindness, patience and devotion to the project. I really couldn’t have done it without them. I remember the early morning phone calls from Phil, “I am off to Hull he said”, “Ok” I said, “I’ve got a tip off about a factory that is going into liquidation. Think I can get us some machinery it looks a bit like shit at the moment. I will have it looking good as new in no time.” And true to his word he did. More and more weird and wonderful bits of machinery would arrive in varying states of repair and Phil would perform his Alchemy .As for me, my learning curve has been exponential. Who knew how important a “dip and chuck” would be or the type of crimp to seal a tube.

On the outside our building looks like a traditional barn, on the inside it a gleaming space odyssey of chrome, steel and technology. Something I hadn’t anticipated was the smell. I love the smell. We don’t use any synthetic fragrances and consequently there is always an  intoxicating heady aroma of deliciousness in the air.  I am very proud of what we have achieved. I remember the day the conveyor belt arrived in all its glory and suddenly thinking, “this is really happening, I am manufacturing my products”

In the beginning we would go to the local pub for lunch and the locals would whisper, they were intrigued by what we were up to. Some days they would see us in our white overalls and protective gear and we started to wonder if they thought we were running a Chrystal meth lab in the middle of sleepy Dorset, This is the part of the country where the most exciting piece of news in the local newspaper was a police report of “unexplained elastic band found around horse’s hoof”

I can’t tell you how excited and proud I was as all those rare and expensive ingredients started to arrive and we lined them up on the shelves in our stock room.

 

DrFrancesPrennaJonesFormula-86bce

 

So now I can truthfully say that my products are formulated and made in the Uk and that anything is possible, if you have a passion and a belief and you surround yourself by people who also believe in your dreams.

I am not going to tell you there weren’t moments of despair, there were and it has been tough running a full time Clinical Practice and setting up a new business. Patients would say to be completely oblivious of my other life “breaking bad in Dorset”  “Oh! You only work 3 days a week now?”…. Err no, I see patients 3 days a week. I work 7 plus days a week. But in truth it isn’t really work, I love it. So, has it been worth it? Yes. And I hope you think so too.