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Meet our suppliers – PrimroseLady

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By Caroline Bennett

If you’ve been in the True Food shop recently, you may have noticed a new range of handmade body butters and soaps from PrimroseLady. Created by Kumari Samarasinghe, a long time True Food volunteer and former committee member, PrimroseLady is a recently formed local company with a strong ethical stance.

We grabbed Kumari at the end of a volunteering shift to find out more.

Hello Kumari, first of all tell us how long you’ve been involved with True Food and how you heard about us.

I live locally in Emmer Green, and spotted the store not long after it had moved to Grove Road when taking my daughter to school across the road. I love True Food’s organic and sustainable ethos and found out about volunteering through chatting with the staff members.

In my professional life I’m a chartered accountant, so it was natural for me to get involved as the finance committee member. Since stepping down from the committee I’ve been spending more time volunteering in the shop, and I like the flexibility of the shifts and being able to fit them around my other commitments.

Why did you start making your own body butters and soaps?

I started experimenting with my own creations about two years ago because I’m very concerned about the environment and wanted to reduce my family’s use of plastic. Instead of buying toiletries and soap which often come in plastic packaging, I decided to try making my own. This had the added bonus of knowing exactly what went into our toiletries. Body butter was the first thing I created, using just four ingredients and no water, and I played around with the recipe until I came up with a formula that I liked.

Next, I decided to give some to friends and family, so I searched for sustainable packaging. I found some glass containers with metal caps at Lakeland and started giving away my creations as presents.

When did you realise that you wanted to turn your hobby into a business?

My friends and family loved the products I gave them and wanted more. I received lots of positive feedback about the texture and how well the body butter absorbed into the skin, so I wanted to learn more. To further my knowledge, I took several very good skincare courses to educate myself about the ingredients that go into my products – particularly the essential oils which need to be used sparingly.

I use all-natural ingredients such as olive and coconut oils, shea butters and spices. I test everything at home first and then when I’m happy, I pass my creations onto friends and family to test. So far I’ve made body butters, face creams, lip balms, soap, candles and even pet products! I do a nose balm, paw balm and shampoo bars for dogs.

What’s PrimroseLady’s ethos?

We want to be as ethical and sustainable as possible.

We use all-natural ingredients (all sourced from British suppliers) to ensure that our products don’t harm people or the planet. For example, we don’t use palm oil in our soap, or paraffin wax in our candles.

Everything’s made by hand in small batches, and as much as possible we use recyclable or reusable packaging.

Where did the name ‘PrimroseLady’ come from?

I’d been trying to come up with a name for a long time and wanted something that incorporated my Sri Lankan background. My husband came up with ‘primrose’ which is found in both Sri Lanka and Britain, which I paired with ‘lady’ – a translation of part of my Sri Lankan name.

What’s coming next from PrimroseLady?

Away from my mixing bowls, I’m working with my daughter on finishing my website:

On the product side, as well as bath milks I’m currently concentrating on Christmas gift packs and on refining different fragrances for our soy wax candles. I love candles and wanted some alternatives to paraffin wax which is harmful to health. Making candles is surprisingly technical, as you have to find the right container and the right ratio of wick to soy wax for a candle that burns successfully. Luckily, it’s the right time of year to be testing candles!