We chat to Essex-based Clare Cooper about the wellness brand that she launched with her partner which uses apothecary to deal with all manner of health issues
When did you start suffering from anxiety and how debilitating was it for you?
I had bouts of it as a child, which would manifest as stomach aches (as we know the gut is the second brain and often linked to anxiety), then as a teenager – and when it became an actual anxiety disorder it was when I was around 25 to 30 (so over 10 years ago now). It was really debilitating when there was a point that I no longer felt there was any enjoyment left in life. Normally fun activities like meals out with friends were taken over by thoughts of panicking about having an anxiety attack and people noticing, or my mind focussed on drinking alcohol to lessen the anxiety feeling. I also started walking to work from East London to the West End as public transport made it worse. I didn’t know where to look and thought people (who were total strangers) were talking about me and laughing.
Why did you start studying apothecary?
I started to learn about aromatherapy and natural remedies when I started my healing journey in my late 20s. I found a shop in Camden Market that sold frankincense resin, so I started burning it and took up meditation. The sedating effects were so profound and really helped me ease anxiety. I also started diffusing grapefruit essential oil, which really helped lift my mood and helped with depression. I truly believed in natural remedies as they really helped me, so naturally I wanted to learn more about them.
Where did your travels take you to learn the craft?
I got really into yoga and meditation, which alongside aromatherapy really helped me heal from the anxiety disorders, so as part of my journey I was drawn to India, the birthplace of yoga. I went for three months and stayed in ashrams and ayurvedic centres. At the ayurvedic centre, we were shown the farm where the plants were grown and then how they turned into natural remedies in the form of botanical pastes and oils.
What inspired you to launch Made By Coopers?
After returning from India, we were inspired to start a wellness brand that helped with anxiety, low mood and sleep problems. All of which, myself and partner Darren had suffered. We now had a lot of knowledge in natural ways to help heal.
Was it tough to get off the ground?
It was really tough, especially as we had never had a business before. I’d always done hair and makeup and worked for myself, so it was totally different starting a wellness brand. At first, we focused on what we knew and what we had studied – then came up with core blends after lots of research and testing.
What do you offer today?
We have a range of products that include aromatherapy oils, room sprays, candles, bath and body products, a clean beauty facial range and relaxation aids such as an eye pillow and meditation cushion.
How do you go about creating products?
We literally create aromatherapy blends for a common problem such as poor sleep, then create for example three final possible blends in the form of sprays and give to friends and family to test on themselves and get feedback. Once we have a resounding success, we choose which product we will bring to market.
How does it feel to have a family business?
It feels great, we are all in it together and we get to work together on the same goal and grow together. Sometimes we can get on each other’s nerves like any couple, but ultimately we love it!
You recently moved to Essex – where to and what do you love about it?
We now live in Benfleet. Previously we lived in Lancing, not far from Brighton the last four years which was great, but we decided to move to Essex which is where Darren’s from. As our business grew, it made sense for us to be nearer family as we were here a lot of weekends anyway, it no longer made sense to live in Sussex. We have two children so being close to family really helps. Mine are in South London, so in West Sussex we didn’t have anyone near. Also, Darren’s dad passed away a year ago, so we wanted to move to help out with his family and be closer. I have no problem moving to different places, it keeps life exciting! I like Essex as you have countryside and beaches not far away, yet you can easily get into London.
How would you like to develop Made By Coopers from here?
I would like to meet other Essex-based businesses for collaborations like yoga studios, yoga teachers and other people in the wellbeing industry. We are all in it together, so it makes sense to create collaborations which help us all grow together and for us to create a new network here. We also have members of our team in North and West London so we can meet a lot easier now we have moved to Essex.