Case Studies

Sustainable skincare business quadruples online sales

An Alloa-based luxury skincare business has quadrupled its online sales after receiving expert advice and support from DigitalBoost, Scotland’s national digital upskilling programme, delivered by Business Gateway.  

About the business

Launched in 2015, Ochil Skincare makes and sells hand-made natural and vegan soap and skincare with a Scottish twist. Born out of business owner Fiona Ritchie’s desire to create chemical-free products that are kind to the skin, the products are free from palm oil and parabens, and contain thistle oil which moisturises and rejuvenates.  

My Business Gateway adviser has been there every step of the way to inject their expertise and provide tailored support at various stages of business development. Whether it came to writing a business plan or taking me through processing accounts, I knew I could count on Business Gateway for expert guidance. That’s what is great about their services.

How Business Gateway has helped

 Ochil Skincare makes products that range from organic liquid soap to lavender and geranium shampoo bars. All products are packaged in sustainable, biodegradable packaging wherever possible, and eco refill pouches are also on sale to discourage single-use plastic.    

Although the business and its two brands – Siabann and Bearr Man – were performing well and had an established client base within the Scottish hospitality sector, 80% of this trade was lost when lockdown forced hotels and restaurants to close. Throughout this period of closure, Fiona was determined to build the brand’s online presence in a bid to engage directly with customers and turned to Business Gateway for support in doing so.    

Fiona accessed regular 1:1 support from her dedicated business adviser as part of Business Gateway’s growth service and received a strategic review of her business plan to identify new opportunities.    

Through this process, Fiona was able to identify how an online retail sales focus would work for her business. Using DigitalBoost, she accessed support that helped her create the brand’s e-commerce site, which is now core to business turnover and has resulted in a 400% increase in online sales throughout lockdown.    

This support was built upon with a Digital HealthCheck and access to specialist support to help the brand develop ideas for organic social media content. Fiona is confident that this support will also help in the official launch of her latest product, a vegan tattoo butter called The Ink Balm, that is designed to provide natural tattoo aftercare.    

Fiona Ritchie, Founder of Ochil Skincare, said: “My Business Gateway adviser has been there every step of the way to inject their expertise and provide tailored support at various stages of business development. Whether it came to writing a business plan or taking me through processing accounts, I knew I could count on Business Gateway for expert guidance. That’s what is great about their services. “  

“The DigitalBoost support I have received over the years has filled me with confidence and will stand me in good stead for the launch of my next product range. I’ve even started my own blog to digitally document Ochil Skincare’s journey and engage with our growing online customer base.”  

Andrea McFarlane, Business Gateway Adviser, said: “Fiona’s enthusiasm for the brand is infectious, and it has been brilliant to see how she has adapted in response to the challenges of the pandemic. Losing such a big part of her client base is every business owner’s nightmare, but Fiona’s hard work has turned things around.    

“Her dedication and positive attitude, combined with the support we were able to provide, means Ochil Skincare now has a solid online client base. I look forward to watching Ochil Skincare go from strength to strength in the future.” 

Support Provided

1:1 Business Adviser & Support

Strategic Review & Specialist Support

DigitalBoost 1:1 Support

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