A Shaftesbury business has received A-list celebrity attention following the launch of a unique beauty product created from North Dorset-grown flowers and herbs.
Jemma Ricketts of Enchanted Plants sent her new facial oil, the latest addition to her natural and organic skincare range, to an internationally known star. Although she can’t reveal the woman’s name yet, Jemma is delighted by the feedback from the star’s ‘people’. “I promised them confidentiality but if they like it, and I hear that they might do already, I may be able to spill the beans,” said Jemma.
Last Thursday dozens of Shaftesbury residents enjoyed their own red carpet treatment as invited guests at a launch party for Jemma’s Dorset Flowers Botanical Face Oil. Speaking at the event in The Grosvenor Arms’ Assembly Room, Jemma was excited by her product’s results.
“The omega and the vitamins in the oil nourish, condition and help with elasticity. All of the different herbs have chemical constituents that aid repair, regeneration and collagen formation. They help with everything from inflammation to toning micro capillaries and reducing redness. It’s a whole product,” said Jemma. “We’ve looked at all things that will, perhaps, help with the balance of the skin. If your skin is a bit reactive, you have red cheeks or dryness around your temples, or the odd spot now and again, the oil has constituents that will address all of those things.”
Jemma knew exactly which plants she wanted to include in her formula from her years of experience as a medical herbalist. “A medical herbalist is somebody who has had training in orthodox medicine and in medicinal plants. I know a bit about pharmacy and how the chemicals in plants work,” she said.
As a trained herbalist, Jemma says that she can call upon many centuries of knowledge and wisdom concerning plant properties. “It’s really ancient. It developed from the wise woman or man in the village,” she said.
Jemma set herself a tough challenge in formulating her face oil product. She wanted to source every single ingredient locally. “It contains only plants and extracts grown, harvested and infused in Dorset,” Jemma said.
Jemma saw the potential to grow her plants and herbs in and around Shaftesbury. “As a skincare formulator, I’m always surrounded by ingredients from all over the world. The opportunity we have here in Dorset, with our countryside and agriculture, is huge. I happened to bump into a couple of farmers who were excited by the idea of growing herbs and we started to work with them.”
Jemma joined forces with business partners Yordan Borukov and Justin Frampton of Dorset Herbs and Essence Farm. Yordan went into Jemma’s Enchanted Plants shop to offer his services, because he was farming lavender near Gillingham. “I was in Shaftesbury when I spotted the shop. It was unusual to see a London-style store here. I went inside, left my details about what we were growing and Jemma was impressed,” said Yordan.
The oil is infused with bramble flower, calendula, chamomile, comfrey, red and white varieties of clover, lavender, lemon balm, plantain, rose damask and viola. Justin and Yordan farm the flowers Jemma needs on a section of Justin’s family’s farmland at Okeford Fitzpaine. “It’s one field of sixteen acres, just under Bulbarrow Hill. It’s a lovely spot with views all over the Blackmore Vale,” said Justin.
Jemma says that the oil used as a base is also rather special. “The rapeseed oil is a particular, single variety that is pressed on the farm so the levels of vitamins E and K are higher than anything that is sat in a warehouse or shipped across the Atlantic,” said Jemma.
If just one of the thirteen plant crops had failed, then Jemma would have had a big headache. “There have been lots of worries. The weather has been glorious, which has made the rapeseed harvest very good but it has also been challenging for some of the more tender plants like lemon balm. We found that the soil in the area has an element of clay, which holds moisture and is certainly able to cope with the hot conditions. I don’t know what next year is going to bring, but we are harvesting like mad to see if we can make it last,” Jemma said.
Jemma says that the viola tricolour was the trickiest to produce on a large scale. “It’s very tiny and it’s very tender. It did quite well in the earlier part of the year. The purple pigment in that flower has interesting antioxidant properties. We wanted that in the formula for its ability to protect the skin against environmental stresses.”
Jemma is convinced that the number of herbs and plants used in her oil has brought her good fortune. “Thirteen is my lucky number. For most people it’s horrific,” she laughed. “I decided that, from the vast array of medicinal plants that offer skin benefiting actions, I was going to select thirteen that you could grow in this country, which will do amazing things for your skin. I concentrated on those thirteen and that is what is infused in our rapeseed oil.”
Jemma has decided to donate £2 from every face oil sold to the charity Plantlife. Tash Coombes represented them at Jemma’s event. “We have 23 nature reserves. We protect native wild flowers and of course all of the bugs, bees, butterflies and birds which depend on those,” said Tash.
Tash says that Plantlife is grateful to Jemma for her continued support. “We’re so pleased that she has thought about us. We’re getting a donation and there’s a little bit about us on each bottle,” said Tash.
Jemma is hoping for good weather in 2019 so she can extend production. If her secret celebrity sampler tweets or blogs about the Dorset skincare product, demand could easily outstrip supply. Jemma doesn’t plan to offer her face oil to other retailers at this stage. You’ll only be able to buy the oil from her website or her store at The Commons. But she has made one exception, for her favourite village shop. “Because this is our first batch, we have a limited stock. But we’re going to supply the award-winning Ludwell Stores and I’m very excited. I’m very fond of Jo and Phil.”
The Dorset Flowers Botanical Facial Oil is £48 for 30ml. To find out more visit EnchantedPlants.co.uk.