Fresh Therapies is an award-winning natural nail care company whose products are not only great for customers but are kind to the planet.
When we first came across their natural nail varnish remover, it was everything we had hoped for and more: free from all those health-harming chemicals and also free from harsh smells! The only thing that blew us away more was its founder, Nicola Dickinson, and her passion and ethos for toxin-free and natural living. We were over the moon to bring her into the Wellbeing Sisters family and to include her natural nail varnish remover in all of our August boxes.
We caught up with Nicola to find out all about her inspiration behind the brand, why her clean, green credentials mean so much to her, and her take on her eight health and beauty industry awards.
Where did the idea for Fresh Therapies come from?
I used to be a beauty therapist, and when I started my own salon in 2006, I would only use natural/organic products during treatments, mainly because ‘organic’ was the buzzword in skincare at this time.
When I decided I wanted to be a reseller natural of skincare, the research I undertook was startling – I learned all about the nasty ingredients often found in synthetic products and how they can damage the skin. But most alarming was the fact a lot of these ingredients really didn’t need to be included anyway, so all they were doing was damaging health. That’s when I decided that moving forward, all the products I used for both work and in my personal life would be made from natural ingredients.
Eventually, it came the time to replace the products I used for manicures and pedicures, and while the hand washes and creams were easy to source, I just couldn’t find a more natural nail polish remover.
Given that nail varnish remover is the nail care product that has the most toxic smell and immediate negative effect on the nails and skin, the hunt was well and truly on! I surfed the internet for months and eventually found a company selling one (not UK- based). I asked if I could be a distribution agent for the south of the UK, and they said no as I had no proven sales track record.
That was the moment my stubborn brain said there’s the gap in the market; go fill it and do it yourself. So that’s exactly what I did – with no experience of making cosmetics, I found a UK company who came up with the formula for me and my natural nail polish remover was born!
What five words best describe your brand?
Eco-friendly, healthy, kind, honest, inspiring.
What sets you apart from other hand and nail care brands out there?
All our products are made in the UK, and some of our suppliers employ people who haven’t had the best start in life or may have other life challenges, and we like to think we are helping them too.
None of our products come in plastic bottles. Although the bottle caps were initially lined with a very small amount of plastic, we changed this as soon as we could. Being a small indie brand makes it possible to change and grow quickly in order to be the best we can be.
Our hero product – the natural nail polish remover – was designed to have no harsh ingredients, no bright colours and definitely no toxic smell, it’s one thing our customers love about it. I’ve had the men of the house say how they love that there’s no nasty lingering smell too!
Trying to use the minimal amount of ingredients in a product is important to me too. There’s no point in putting a plethora of ingredients in just for marketing purposes if the amounts that are added aren’t going to have an effect, so I just don’t do it!
The nourishing nail elixir is still made by hand (by me) in smallish batches for optimum freshness.
I also like to provide people with the knowledge they need to make an informed choice with confidence, so when customers email for advice, they get honest answers. If I feel the product isn’t for them, I’ll tell them – for me, it’s not all about the sale, it’s about having integrity.
Why are you passionate about what you do?
From a plastic-free point of view, I go out on the water lots – paddleboarding or boating – and to see how much plastic is in our waterways and on the beach really upsets me and makes me angry. I couldn’t believe the amount of plastic collected on the first beach clean I took part in.
It’s very upsetting to see TV programmes that show how plastic never really goes away; it just gets smaller and smaller in landfill. In today’s world, there’s no need for it to be like this.
From an ingredients point of view, I had one sister who passed away from cancer. Although it was way before the knowledge of beauty ingredients was in the public eye, it made me think about it more once I was educated on the matter. Now my two remaining sisters have been through the illness too, and it really hits home. I’m convinced there is a natural ingredient alternative for everything we need in all areas of our lives.
What’s the best part of running Fresh Therapies?
Although challenging at times, being my own boss means I’m also fortunate to be able to take time off when I want to. Then, of course, there’s the start and finish times – I can go paddleboarding at 6 am, be at my desk for 8 am and not have to worry if I don’t look presentable at the office, that’s great! Although I work so many more hours than I thought I would before starting out, It doesn’t feel like work when you do your thing your way.
Regularly chopping and changing roles stops it from getting monotonous too – one day I’m packing orders, the next I’m working on the social media side of the business, although I hate the numbers side – I leave that to my accountant!
Another great part of my job is when I get positive feedback, and people express how great the products are – how they’ve helped them and made them happier. When that happens, it makes me realise the late nights and weekends working is worth it!
Why did you want to partner with Wellbeing Sisters?
Wellbeing Sisters just get what Fresh Therapies is all about. When we had a zoom, I felt that our companies just clicked.
We both want to help others have a better, healthier lifestyle, not just when it comes to beauty, but overall. We both have teams predominantly made up of women, which is great too, as we understand what women want and have experienced many of the same issues our customers face
Both of us are passionate about toxin-free living, and we carry this over to our personal lives. This was important to me as it shows that we believe our own ethos, and aren’t just jumping on the bandwagon!
Going to the makeup counter to buy a lipstick to brighten yourself up hasn’t been easy due to Covid, but painting your nails can give you a real mood boost. So the natural nail polish remover seemed the obvious product to place in the August Wellbeing Sisters box.
What’s your favourite Fresh Therapies product?
It has to be the natural nail polish remover because it’s my baby! It’s what really brought the company to life, and I’m so proud of it, especially now that it sells worldwide – seeing and hearing how people love using it, and the results it gives, even the non-users in the household love it.
As Fresh Therapies continues to grow, what are some of the things your customers can look forward to?
Having a full range of hand care products is the next goal, and over time I’d like us to have a full body care range from the neck down, including foot, bath and shower items. The idea of bath items really excites me, and although quite a way off, I’ve already got my vision board pinned up for it already!
Our reusable nail polish remover pads are launching soon too; I’m really looking forward to that. We even included a sample of them in the August Wellbeing Sisters boxes.
What are your customers looking for when they shop with you?
Customers come to Fresh Therapies because of the lack of nasty ingredients and plastic-free packaging and the fact that they can gain healthier nails without having to use a whole bunch of products or spend ages on a lengthy routine every morning and night.
Our customers love that our nail polish remover doesn’t leave their nails feeling dry or irritate their skin – even if they have broken cuticle skin, the remover won’t sting when they use it. It’s suitable for those with highly sensitive skins too, and expecting mums.
Why should our customers make the switch to Fresh Therapies?
Apart from the products being made in the UK, which is great from a workers/employers ethical stance, Fresh Therapies are here not only to help customers maintain healthier nails and but to help them be kinder to the planet too.
Fresh Therapies is about providing people with knowledge and products that enable them to feel confident, motivated, and inspired to maintain good health inside and out, all while bringing awareness towards a healthier way of living.
The more that companies like Fresh Therapies and Wellbeing Sisters can work together to help others understand that there are cleaner, healthier alternatives, the more that people and the planet can heal.
You’ve won eight health and beauty industry awards over the years, tell us a little about that?
I remember attending the Natural and Organic trade show in London when my nail polish remover was still in development stages. All I had was the glass square bottle. I was listening to Josephine Fairley and Sarah Stacey (co-authors of The Beauty Bible). They mentioned that they were fed up with seeing products in brown cardboard and tied up with twine. They were urging beauty brands to be more fashionable and spruce it up.
My hand shot up, and Jo asked me to come and chat with her after the show. She loved my ideas and told me to enter the Green Beauty Bible awards when I was ready, which I did and came out with the highest score ever for a nail polish remover in their many years of testing! I was beaming for days after this announcement.
My first award was at Vegfest, again in London. A show for all things vegan, not just beauty.
I had a stand at the event, and the winner would be who gained the most votes. Seeing as you didn’t have to pay to enter, I went for it, thinking the big brands would obviously win, but I did! Winning my first award really spurred me on; it showed me I was doing something right, and customers wanted what I had.
Once the polish remover started to win awards, it became apparent that there were other issues with people’s nails. I knew this from my beauty therapist days, but now people were asking me the best thing they could do to help with their dry, splitting, weak nails. They didn’t want to be embarrassed when their nails were on show without polish or fake nails, and that’s when the idea for the nourishing nail elixir was born.
Each award I’ve won is obviously brilliant, but for me, it’s more the fact that I am doing things right, I am helping people and all the hard work, late nights, tears, and frustrations are worth it.
Some people really need the products I make, not just want them. This was a real eye-opener for me when a lady told me at a show that because she’d found my polish remover, she could finally wear nail polish again after ten years. She’d become allergic to nail polish remover ingredients, but my product had helped her overcome that hurdle. She’s still a customer today.
What’s your greatest accomplishment to date?
That’s a tricky one, there have been many, but the one that took me the longest to achieve was closing the door on Fresh Therapies beauty salon to concentrate solely on the product growth.
It took me three years to decide to close the door and turn off the lights for good.
I was scared it wouldn’t work; I’d convinced myself I didn’t know enough to be able to run a product business, let alone sell things online. Imposter syndrome kicked in on every level, and the learning curve was massive (and still is). I held myself back for a long time, feeling slightly embarrassed at big events, and not good enough to call Fresh Therapies a real business. One of my sisters is my biggest cheerleader, though, and keeps a scrapbook of all the PR I’ve received. That’s a real boost when I have a wobble. Looking back on all you have achieved is an excellent
Now, on reflection, it was the best decision I’ve ever made career-wise, and I’ve never looked back since.
If you hadn’t set up Fresh Therapies, what do you think you’d be doing instead?
Now that’s an easy one. When I was younger, I wanted to own a fruit and veg stall, but my dad said no because he knew I wouldn’t get up at 4 am to get to the wholesale market!
If I were a little younger and had the chance to retrain, I’d probably become a herbalist or some type of homeopath. The thought of looking at a plant and knowing what benefits it has to mankind blows my mind and fascinates me.
If I could live in Thailand, it would be running a paddleboarding hire place – they make great matcha lattes out there too!