Agnes Leggett is behind eco-friendly self-care gift business, Lulu et Compagnie. Here, the French-born artisan explains how, 10 years on, her expanding range inspires her to lead a sustainable lifestyle every day
I’m French, married and a proud mum to two amazing teenagers. Our family have been living in Norwich city centre for nearly five years – we love the atmosphere, the buzz – it is such a great city to live in. I met my husband Mark (born and bred in Great Yarmouth) many years ago when he was working on business in France. In 1997, I quit my job in finance in Paris and moved to England, first to London where we stayed for 20 years before finally settling in Norwich.
I have always been a very creative person – I vividly remember, as a child, handmaking clothes for my dolls to wear. I was also often caught sneaking into my dad’s garage. I would ‘borrow’ his tools to make some tiny wooden furniture for my teddy bears and dolls.
Ten years ago, whilst I was also running a small engineering company with my husband, I decided to start a “micro business” called Lulu et Compagnie. This business was born out of my love for designing and knitting fashion accessories. In the beginning these were specifically for babies – new-born booties, hats and jackets. I started small, selling them locally in a lovely shop called Bermondsey Fayre on Bermondsey Street.
Gradually, I started crocheting again – one of my first loves! Sustainability and environmental issues are important to me, so I focused on crocheting eco-friendly, zero waste and plastic free items. These makeup remover ‘scrubbies’, wash cloths, shower puffs and mini jute baskets became extremely popular items. To meet the growing demand, I took my products online onto Etsy, into various markets and finally into local Norwich stores such as Re-source and Sustainability Station.
At the same time, I was making and creating natural soaps for friends and family. I got such fabulous feedback from them that I decided it was time to make them on a larger scale – my business was growing!
My aim is to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle and I want my products to be in harmony with this. All my hand balms, lip balms, rose infused facial oil and roll-on perfume use only natural ingredients and are all packaged in reusable containers (metal tins and glass bottles).
For example, the hand balm contains only organic jojoba oil, organic shea butter, almond oil, essential oils and vitamin E. All my products are carefully made in small batches, they are also vegan and animal cruelty free.
I feel very blessed to have turned a passion into my main occupation. It is the best feeling in the world to get up every morning knowing that you will enjoy every single part of the creative process.
The last two years have certainly been challenging times and I have been working from home (like most of the country) in a very crowded house. During this time, I found space to reflect on where I wanted to take my small business and how I was going to grow it. Luckily for me a lot of people were sourcing and buying products online. It was a wonderful confidence boost to see my sales increasing day by day.
However, I found this time very difficult as I was completely cut off from my family in France. Visiting was impossible and especially upsetting when I couldn’t see my elderly parents – 18 months without seeing them was incredibly hard.
Watching my business grow, after all the hours I’ve dedicated, has been very, very rewarding. My hope is, that in very near future, I will be able to expand my natural eco-friendly product range but most importantly of all, I will keep on enjoying every single moment of this mad fabulous journey.
Lulu et Compagnie products can be found at: Re-Source (Norwich); The Tacons Farm (Rollesby); Bermondsey Fayre (London) and Etsy. They can also be found at the following forthcoming events: June 5 – Norwich Vegan Parkfest, Chapelfield Gardens; June 19 – Norwich Free Market, The Forum; June 26 – Norwich Vegans Summer Fayre, The Forum.