We were excited to interview Charlotte Vohtz, creator of Green People, the leader in certified organic body care products, a truly pioneering brand set up in 1997. Charlotte has 2 children, Adam and Sandra, and lives with her husband in the rural Sussex countryside just 10 minutes from the office!
What inspired you to set up Green People and how did you compete with all the multi-billion pound pharmaceutical companies?
My very young daughter Sandra was my inspiration to start Green People. Sandra had very sensitive skin and was plagued with eczema. In 1994 I began searching for truly natural products that didn’t contain harsh chemical. I found that, despite various marketing claims, many so-called natural products contained up to 99.9% synthetic ingredients. This led me on an exciting journey of researching and formulating truly organic, natural products that would help Sandra and everyone else suffering with skin sensitivities. Many larger companies produce seemingly natural products that in fact contain the same old chemicals. Misleading marketing has always been around – companies like Green People will never be able to compete with the ‘big guys’ but we can do our best to keep the consumer informed and help them make healthier choices.
You currently have over 100 products in total, which is your absolute favourite?
My two favourite products will always be the Facial Oil & Serum. These are the perfect pair for instant illumination; the combination of oil and serum leaves my skin glowing and radiant. I never waste a drop as they are great for the dÃ©colletage too, keeping the area firm and to help prevent sagging. I love the versatility of the products as they suit my skin all year round; I simply use more oil in the winter to nourish my skin when the cold spells set in and more serum in the summer when my skin is less dry. They also make the perfect primer under make-up, holding it in place all day long – great for busy mums!
Who are your heroes?
Leslie Kenton and Kathryn Marsden, who were really ‘there’ for natural before anyone else. Both heavily promoted healthy eating and living many years ago.
You donate 10% of your profits to charitable causes linked to “green” or environmental issues; tell us a bit about the charities you support and why they’re so important to you.
We have been working very closely with the holistic charity, Penny Brohn Cancer Care for a number of years and are proud to have raised in excess of £80,000 for this valuable cause.
More recently we are supporting the amazing work which the Chestnut Tree House children’s charity does, plus 2013 saw us join forces with The Marine Conservation Society, helping to preserve and protect marine wildlife. A donation from every Scent Free sun lotion SPF25 sold was given to MCS; we shall be continuing this partnership in 2014.
What’s your favourite family recipe?
Curry Marinated Herring
- 300g white marinated Herring
- ½ apple – finely chopped
- 1 stick of celery – finely chopped
Home-made mayonnaise Ingredients:
(The portion size is a little too big, but can be stored for a few days in the fridge)
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2ml of oil (preferably canola, soya or another neutral tasting oil )
- Freshly ground black pepper
To make the home-made mayonnaise:
- Stir the egg yolks with salt and add the mustard
- Add the oil drop-wise until the yolks are thick
- Keep adding the oil till mayonnaise is creamy
Curry Dressing Ingredients:
- 5g oil
- Approx. 1 teaspoon Indian curry
- 40 grams of home-made mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons sour cream 38% (or use more mayonnaise)
- A little salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
To make the Curry dressing:
- Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the curry on a low heat until it changes colour (after a few minutes)
- Mix the curry with the mayonnaise and some sour cream (sour cream optional)
- Cut the Herring into suitable pieces and mix in the curry sauce. Add the apple and celery. Season with salt and pepper.
- Let the finished curried Herring stand for at least 12 hours before serving.
- To Garnish – Sprinkle with chopped red onion fresh dill or parsley.
- Serve with halved boiled egg and rye bread.
What pieces of wisdom would you pass on to your children?
Never give up and listen to your heart – if a decision doesn’t ‘feel right’ then don’t do it!
Juggling a successful career and a busy family life can be tough. What do you do as a family to relax and unwind?
I love cooking; it relaxes me and gives my busy brain a rest. My daughter Sandra is a brilliant cook and sharing a kitchen with her makes for some lovely girly time, Sushi is a family speciality!
What’s in the pipeline for you next?
My business vision for the next few years is to maintain our high standards and ethics and to retain the trust and integrity built up over the past 17 years. I also envisage that we will be able to work towards satisfying the demand from large export companies who are interested in selling our products all over the world.
What’s the one baby product that you didn’t invent that you couldn’t have lived without?
Definitely a baby sling!
How would you sum yourself up in one sentence?
Both in my business and personal life I am strong-willed, resilient and passionate, I am a huge ‘people person’ and nurture those around me.