Noble Isle Katy Simpson

Caroline Neville MBE, the president of CEW UK, speaks with Katy Simpson, founder of Noble Isle, about the brand’s dedication to conscious bath and body products that are proudly British.

This article was originally published in LB 217. 

Can you outline your experience in the beauty industry?

I attended university in London, studying fashion buying and marketing. I worked in the buying offices of several high street and designer houses in the UK where, from garments, I moved to accessories, shoes, bags and leather gifts. I soon found myself working with jewellery, fragrance sets and bath and body, where I discovered I had a hidden passion for fragrance. I also love taking an idea and developing it into something physical. In 2001, I left fashion and moved to Beauty, Bath and Body within a reputable British luxury cosmetics house where I was head of product development for eight years. In 2008, I left the corporate world to work as a consultant for small start-ups and then decided it was time to start a new business with three ex-colleagues. Noble Isle was born in 2012 after 18 months in development.

What was the thinking behind your brand and what prompted you to start your own business?

I had a passion to produce something that was wholly British, sourcing ingredients from celebrated local producers and manufacturing our products in the British Isles. I wanted to highlight what is happening in the country – amazing places, people and ingredients. During the creation of the brand, we travelled the length and breadth of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to source authentic, quintessentially British ingredients that celebrate our rich cultural history and are unique to Noble Isle. Our sumptuous lotions and washes feature extracts sourced from producers all over the UK, including rhubarb from Yorkshire, sea oak from Ireland, barley from Scotland and beetroot from Wales. Noble Isle’s designs are contemporary while integrating our heritage. We are grounded and inspired by our land, culture and history.

What are the most significant changes you’ve noticed in the industry since launching Noble Isle?

Sustainability and veganism have played a huge role in the development of the beauty industry over the past few years. Noble Isle is proud to be a vegan and environmentally friendly brand, using cruelty-free and green formulas in every product.

How do you want your customers to feel when they use your products?

Fine fragrance is an evocative, emotive experience. It has the ability to take someone back to a poignant moment in time. I want our customers to feel the positive power of fragrance when they use Noble Isle; reminding them of holidays with friends, family members and the places they
call home.

Which platforms do you use to communicate with your clients?

We update clients on new products and campaigns through the Noble Isle newsletter, website and social media platforms. We are also supported digitally through our retail partners, including Fortnum & Mason, Liberty, Harrods and more.

What differentiates Noble Isle from its competitors?

‘Britain in a bottle’ captures the heart of our brand and it is truly what separates us from others on the market. We promote farmers, charities, conservationists – people doing exceptional things in our country. Each producer is incredibly passionate about their ingredient. So, the most important factor when making our products is that we use British extracts from local producers. Perry pear from Gloucestershire orchards, barley from the Balvenie Distillery, beetroot from Monmouthshire, elderflower from Cornwall, samphire from the Irish coastline and heather honey from Perthshire are some of our star ingredients.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the beauty industry?

You need to have thick skin and be resilient. It’s normal to experience a lot of knock-backs during the first few years while you make your brand present in the marketplace. I held a 100 per cent belief in Noble Isle and knew we would find our core client out there. After a setback or bad news, you must pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move on!

Who or what most inspires you in the beauty industry?

My biggest inspiration comes from nature. That is where I find all my ideas. I am also passionate about beautifully wrapped products and spend time in food halls, chocolate shops and markets looking for inspiration.

What do you consider to be the biggest challenge facing the industry today?

Sustainable and ethical sourcing will continue to challenge beauty brands, as well as to develop greener formulas and packaging.

What plans do you have in the pipeline for Noble Isle?

This autumn/winter, we are developing our base formulations to be even more natural, which is the biggest change in our business since launching. We are so excited about making this significant positive change. 

Which three items/products can you not leave home without?

My Moleskin diary/notebook, my boys (Westscot Terriers), and Dior Lip Tattoo.

How do you start your day?

Strong coffee and emails.

What was the title of the last book you read?

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

How do you switch off?