A kind-hearted animal carer who launched a business while seriously injured in lockdown is developing the sweet smell of success.
Gill Thomas-Jones was nursing a badly broken ankle just weeks before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold in the UK.
A former sales rep and account manager in the pet sector, she used her time in rehabilitation – coupled with years of knowledge and experience – to create a range of sustainable products aimed at improving the health and beauty regimes of humans and animals.
As she marks the first year of Mountain Garden Botanics, based in New Brighton, Wrexham, Gill is preparing to take the artisan firm “to the next level” and expand their growing sales base across the UK.
Already supplying handmade shampoo and deodorant bars, soaps and candles – all palm oil, cruelty and plastic-free – to independent venues and retailers, the 37 year-old is now permanently in the business day-to-day and excited at what the future will bring.
“It was my love of creating and making, and gardening, wildlife and the natural environment that spurred me on to do this,” said Gill, who lives on Esclusham Mountain with husband Sion and the pets they have rescued over the years, including chickens, rabbits, cats, and Misty, the Weimaraner (German gun dog).
“As I was stuck at home, first due to my broken ankle and then lockdown, I was able to spend time researching different scents, plants and flowers; lots of ideas came to me while foraging in the garden and I was inspired to explore the benefits of the natural botanicals Mother Nature has given to us.”
“I started with a shampoo bar which included neem oil to repel some of the biting insects we get up here on the mountain. It worked, and my hair grew faster and thicker, so from there I had the confidence to go for it and explore other possibilities.”
A former pupil at Castell Alun High School in Hope, Gill has been forging relationships with retail outlets behind closed doors in past months and now looks forward expanding their wholesale network and increasing volume while retaining the firm’s ethical focus.
There are also new and innovative goods using raw ingredients to share with customers, notably a unique anti-pecking spray for chickens, and a calming mist for dogs and horses.
Her long-term plan is to open a shop unit nearby and use that as a base from which to manufacture and sell the range, eventually taking on staff to meet demand, but for now she is determined to grow organically, much like her products.
“I am 100% full-time in the business and restrictions have eased so I can get out there more and meet people, which will be a breath of fresh air and enable me to really demonstrate the benefits of our range,” said Gill.
“It has been a steep learning curve, working long hours on top of another job to develop the branding, a website, coming up with new ideas and doing all of that while ensuring this is a completely natural series of products with natural packaging.
“Wherever the road takes us and however much we grow that will always be our number one priority, the health and happiness of customers – animal and human!”
For more information, visit www.mountaingardenbotanics.co.uk and follow Mountain Garden Botanics on social media @mountaingardenbotanics.