Salt + Steam is a North Yorkshire based skincare company with a beautiful range of bath salts, facial steams and clay masks. Caroline Dask chats to Lily Hartley about all things wellness and business…
From a very young age, I was told that it’s never too late to start chasing your dreams. However, often what happens is that life gets in the way. Duties, responsibilities and routines act as blockers for what could have been.
Stuck in a never-ending cycle, not able – or maybe, not willing – to break out, we start to come up with excuses. Pushing aside these excuses and finding a gap in her never-ending routine, Lily Hartley, who is originally from the small village of Appleton-le-Moors, took a brave step towards her future as the founder of Salt + Steam.
Launched in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, her company is now a blossoming business creating all-natural bath salts, facial steams, masks and other goodies, that encourage us to break out of the routine and spend a few moments of the day focusing on ourselves.
“Before Salt + Steam, I was actually studying photojournalism at Staffordshire University,” Lily beings.
“I then worked as a freelance photographer for 10 years,” she adds.
“I’ve also worked as a managing director for an e-commerce company, and it wasn’t until I got furloughed that I decided to start my own business. The idea of working for myself has always been brewing in the back of my head.
“Originally, I saw myself as a photographer, chasing down tribes in the rainforest and living a bit of a wild and nomadic lifestyle,” Lily laughs.
“Then later in life, I discovered I’m quite a homebody, and I treasure moments when I can spend time with my family. Yet I’ve always wanted that freedom that comes with having your own little empire, so I just thought, ‘It’s now, or never!’.”
Salt + Steam: The Very Beginning
Being an entrepreneur is so much more than having an idea. What might be the most important step in building a successful business, is to find a gap in the market. To offer a product that solves a problem. Lily has been able to do just that, and maybe this is where her success lies.
“I’ve always been a big fan of skincare bath products,” she starts.
“So probably around six or seven years ago I started to try and make sure that all the products I used were cruelty-free and eco-friendly. What I soon noticed is that it was difficult to find products with great credentials at an affordable price point. Naturally, I thought, if I was struggling to find them, surely other people were too.
“After doing a lot of research, I quickly found out that this side of business is more complicated than I first thought. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make sure that everything is done legally and properly.”
With skincare, finding the right product can take a lot of time, especially if you have skin complications, as many people do. After spending time finding something that works, it can be disappointing to find out that the product is still tested on animals, for example.
When I share this frustration with Lily, she sympathises and admits she has been in a similar situation quite a few times.
“When I was doing my research, I found that there were so many products that were still covered in plastic, or containing ingredients that were harsh on the environment. I knew there must be a better way to do this,” she says.
Salt + Steam: Ethos
“At Salt + Steam we aim to be as eco-friendly as possible, and this is why all of our packaging is plastic-free, our refill bags are completely compostable, our ingredients are locally and sustainably sourced as well as vegan, and I can proudly say we are cruelty-free.
“However, to get to that level, I had to do a lot of research, because another problem with being eco-friendly is that it can be really expensive to find these alternatives to plastic. But we work hard to ensure that our products can offer quality ingredients for prices that don’t bite,” Lily explains.
What started with just three core products – bath salts, body scrubs and facial steams, has now been extended to clay masks, bath oils and gift sets, making sure there is something for everyone. Inclusivity plays a big part in Lily’s product development.
“We wanted to create products that everyone could enjoy. I, myself, prefer floral and fruity scents, but I know that some of our customers enjoy herbal fragrances, so it was important to have a wide range of scents, so that everyone could have a little spa moment at home.
“Because all of our products are natural, they’re suitable for those with sensitive skin. We took it a step further and developed the Skin Saviour clay face mask, which only has three ingredients; our face steams, especially the ones with lavender and rose, work wonders to calm and soothe the skin, and our Mama Time bath oil which is suitable for pregnancy,” Lily adds.
The Importance of Self Care
With customers’ needs at the forefront, Salt + Steam has been flourishing ever since its launch. So, it comes as no surprise, when Lily mentions that they have started selling their products in the US, a move that is still a ‘pinch-me’ moment for her and her team.
“We had a lot of success with our facial steams, and I think the reason is that our product allows people to take a step back and recharge, even if it is just for 10 minutes. It’s something that unites everyone; we’re all busy, we’re all running, but at the same time, we’re all in need of a moment for ourselves,” Lily smiles.
Running a business is no doubt time – consuming, but even with a one-year-old baby and a wedding on the way, Lily highlights the importance of downtime.
“For me, wellness and self-care comes in the form of looking after my skin, going on hikes, being outdoors, exercising, eating well – and treating myself to a lot of cake, for good measure!” she laughs.
“I think self-care comes in so many different forms, but it all comes down to what makes you feel good, what feeds your mind and soul.
“People underestimate the power of downtime and self-care. I think once you take time to look after yourself, you become your best self, which for me means more ideas, better performance and increased productivity.
Salt + Steam: The Future Ahead
“I’m already brimming with ideas to take Salt + Steam to the next level, and I would absolutely love to have a shop. I want to give people the experience of walking into a Salt + Steam store, with lovely scents surrounding them. A place where they can feel and look at the products before purchasing them. I have it all set out in my mind,” says Lily with excitement.
It’s captivating how fast her company is growing and her involvement in everything from doing her own photography to making the products. It seems as though Lily has unlocked a rather secret practice of successfully balancing self-care with running a business, something that makes sense to me in theory, yet seems hard to achieve in real life.
My curiosity gets the better of me and I ask: “How do you do it all?” She laughs and says: “Coffee. A lot of coffee!”