Dragons’ Den star cherry picks Gateshead business for special help

The promising business started as a passion project in lockdown and is now moving on to big things.

Business owner Natalie

Dragons' Den business tycoon Theo Paphitis has chosen a small Gateshead business to receive a helping boost.

Entrepreneur Natalie Dawson has had help to move her handmade cosmetics business out of her spare room and into her first workshop thanks to an extra push from Paphitis.

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Natalie launched Awesome Botanical in May last year after making bath bombs as a hobby that helped ease her anxiety and gave herself something to do after being furloughed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said: “It was just something I enjoyed doing – keeping myself busy during lockdown.

"I started to study cosmetics and essential oils - I had always used essential oils to help ease my anxiety and I had a passion to create products that would help other people ease away their stresses.

“I wasn’t expecting the lockdown and Covid restrictions to go on for so long, but as it did I learned a lot about creating scented cosmetics and expanded my range from bath bombs to holistic skincare and whipped soap products.

“My family persuaded me that my hobby would make a good business, so I launched Awesome Botanical.

The local business ticked along steadily, if not spectacularly until a number of factors accelerated progress.

Natalie explained: “In December 2020 as the shops began to open back up, we were selected to have a pop-up shop at the Fenwick Christmas Market.

"This really was a dream come true, after just six months in business we now had products in the iconic department store.

“In February this year we had some more good news – our cracked heel balm was shortlisted in the prestigious Top Sante Skincare Awards - alongside some of the world’s biggest skincare brands. That really helped our profile.”

Then in mid-September, Natalie received a third boost from none other than former Dragon Theo Paphitis, who chose Awesome Botanicals as a winner in his Small Business Sunday (#SBS) competition on Twitter.

Theo tweeted about Awesome Botanical to his 500,000 Twitter followers and Natalie watched as her social media presence dramatically increased and orders flooded in.

She said: “Winning #SBS was immense and I’m so grateful to Theo for his support.

"It’s lovely to think that someone so successful is only too willing to help small businesses. It made a big difference to us.”

Theo said: “My vision is that everyone who has ever won an #SBS re-tweet from me becomes part of a friendly club; like-minded individuals who can share successes and learnings.

"The website will also give a valuable profile to the winners chosen and I wish Awesome Botanical every success.” 

It was after the win that Natalie decided to move the business out of her home and into a ‘proper’ workshop.

“I just didn’t have the space to keep up with orders coming in.

"I live in Dunston and didn’t want to be too far away from home, and after we’d looked at five or six places we came across Hypoint in Saltmeadows Road in Gateshead.

“I’m looking to grow the brand organically and ethically. We don’t have any overarching parent brands and we don’t import any of our products from abroad.

"Our holistic skincare, bath bombs and whipped soaps are all handmade here in Gateshead. And we commit ourselves to be cruelty-free."