Eighteen months ago Natalie Balmond’s story about how she cured her daughter’s eczema with a pot of cream she cooked up in her own kitchen appeared via Sell My Story website Featureworld in the Daily Mail.
Overnight, thanks to the publicity, Natalie’s business soared as tens of orders flooded in. Now, at a point when she wants to increase the business even further, she took the brave step of appearing on BBC2’s Dragon’s Den.
But, millions watched budding entrepreneur Natalie and her business partner, Weze, fail to get any investment. In exchange for 15% of her growing business, she had asked for an injection of £90,000.
So what does she have to say about the experience?
“It’s fair to say we were on our knees after filming Dragon’s Den,” admits Natalie, 44, a mum of three, “And it was much more nerve-wracking than we thought it would be. Viewers only saw around ten minutes of the gruelling questioning we were put through – but in fact we were stood there for a total of two hours.
“And it was really hard to be told they thought we had a good product – Hilary Devey actually said the moisturiser felt great on her hand – but none felt it was ‘investable’. We came out shattered.
She adds: “We were shocked as we know we have a great business. I have grown my business from me cooking up a cream in a saucepan to employing eight staff. Our cream is even available on prescription. We had already proved we could run a business before we went into the den and we know our cream works.”
Although at a loss to understand what went wrong in the den, she is determined not to let the experience get her down. In fact Natalie says since the Dragons ruthlessly rejected her cream, it’s turned into a business turning over almost half a million a year.
She is also determined that PurePotions Skincare Ltd, which has 20,000 customers worldwide, will become a High St brand. The cream, which costs £7.99 for a small pot and £12.99 for a medium pot, is now stocked in Holland & Barrett with Natalie in talks with another big High St chemist chain to stock it.
The entrepreneurial mum initially cooked up the cream, Skin Salvation, in her own kitchen to help daughter Lulu with eczema.
She says: “Lulu’s skin was often so sore she cried herself to sleep. We saw dozens of doctors who prescribed strong steroid creams. We even tried changing Lulu’s diet but nothing worked. And I was desperate.”
But when a friend gave her a book about herbs, she realised she could find her own cure. “I think everyone thought I’d gone mad,” she admits, “because I spent hours in the kitchen experimenting.”
However the cream she came up with – which included ingredients known to calm the skin such as beeswax, nettle, chickweed and camomile worked. She began giving it to friends and eventually was working day and night to meet demand.
But, despite her nightmare in the den, Natalie is having the last laugh.
Since filming Natalie has teamed up with another investor. She said: “Sales are rocketing. We turned over £476K a year and we are on the way to making Skin Salvation a High St brand. In hindsight we can see we are going to do very well without a dragon on board.”
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