an interview with Jessica
Can you tell us a bit about Pennies and Feathers?
Pennies and Feathers is my new natural, and organic, luxury skincare range which is handmade in the heart of the English countryside.
The range currently consists of three highly nourishing products made from Soil Association and COSMOS certified organic and vegan ingredients, designed to nourish, soothe and revitalise your skin. As well as being suitable for all skin types, the products are also safe to use whilst undergoing chemo and radiotherapy, and 10 percent of Pennies and Feathers’ profits will be donated to small independent charities that support people living with cancer.
The range boasts beautifully illustrated packaging, sustainably designed to be reusable as makeup brush holders and trinket boxes, to try and reduce the amount of waste from beauty packaging.
I have only recently launched the brand, after working on it for almost 3 years, and it is named Pennies and Feathers as my mum told me before she passed, that if there was any way that she could let me know if she was still around, then she would do so by leaving pennies and feathers in my path.
What inspired you?
I very sadly lost my mum to breast cancer 3 years ago now in 2015, when she was only 56 years old and myself, 26.
I honestly felt as though my life lacked purpose afterwards and felt completely lost. I feel as though losing a parent in your twenties is something that there isn’t much support for, and just throws you off track. It was then that I decided that I wanted to create something that combined my skills as a makeup artist, my mum’s love of skincare and also gave me a way to raise money for those who helped us.
I had became really passionate about natural and organic ingredients, after certain products weren’t helping my mum’s very dry lips and skin whilst she was unwell. I truly believe that losing my mum at such a young age has given me a different outlook on life and I had less fear to go forwards and just try.
What has been your biggest challenges?
I must admit that the whole journey of developing a brand and products has been quite the challenge. I have no business experience, having always been a hair and makeup artist, but with the right amount of passion and persistence I believe that you can achieve anything.
A real sticking point for me was trying to find a manufacturer who didn’t only do such high minimum order quantities, and who also would be capable of delivering the very high standards of the Soil Association requirements. This was a long process of emails, calls and google searching. Sometimes being a startup and openly telling companies that it was just myself at home running this brand, equated in zero response. But I got there in the end!
Is there anything you would have done differently?
I don’t think so actually, no. I thought a couple of times of seeking investment, which would have meant that the brand may have launched sooner and I may have had better contacts and doors opening for me now. However as this journey has been so personal to me, and I have had such a clear vision from the start as to what the brand would look like and what we would stand for, it would have been a bad idea. Pennies and Feathers is my mum and I in a brand. It completely captures us, even down to the little signs that can be found within the illustrations like the little robin.
I needed to do this on my own, despite it taking almost a year longer that I had planned, (costing more than I had planned too) as creating a brand whilst working freelance too is tricky.
How do you keep driven and motivated?
I will be honest here too that this is difficult sometimes! Especially having my hair and makeup work on as well. However creating something that you have dreamed up in your mind, and then seeing it come to life is the most amazing feeling. I don’t think that I actually stop to think how cool it is enough.
Knowing that my mum would be beyond proud, and having a platform to keep her memory alive and a reason to talk about her drives me too.
I also hope that I can show other young people who may have lost a parent and been broken by it, that you can move forwards and channel the pain into something positive.
Did you have a plan and have you followed it?
My plan has evolved and changed a lot throughout the 3 years. The initial idea was very different from what I have now, but I am glad as it is better. It started much smaller and I have allowed myself to dream big and follow that. I do think that when I started I was very naive, and to be honest still am. But I think that this is a blessing as if I knew what would have been involved, then I wouldn’t be where I am now and would have stayed thinking small. I wouldn’t have taken the risks.
What are your goals for the future?
Pennies and Feathers has only just launched, so I am so excited to see where I can take it! My goals are to share my story as much as I can to inspire and give hope to others, and to raise as much money as I can from the profits of the products to support those who are living with a cancer diagnosis.
I would love to be stocked in some beautiful shops and also I would really love to bring out a limited edition product each year on my mum’s birthday. This, I dream, will be in collaboration will lots of other lovely brands and can raise more money to help others.