I get very excited to write blog reviews. This one – let me tell you – is off the scale. Tropic Skincare, one of my favourite beauty brands, kindly invited me to the launch of their brand new HQ, Beauty Kitchen and Innovation Lab in Croydon. I didn’t need to be asked twice.
THE STORY SO FAR
I was introduced to Tropic 2 years ago by my fabulous Ambassador friend, who is now a very successful Tropic Manager. It didn’t take long for me to be convinced that these chemical free, cruelty free, 100% natural products trump anything I’ve used before. I do hate to use the word “trump” don’t you? But on this occasion it’s quite appropriate.
Over 100 gorgeous products have earned Tropic 120 awards to date. You have to keep up, they’re adding awards almost every month.
I’ve been using Tropic’s products for a while now and have reviewed their skincare and bath treats so was delighted when they decided my blog was fab, called me up and proposed a blog collaboration, along with a VIP invite to their Press Launch.
So we’re off before dawn. The car is packed with fresh coffee and snacks. Mr Bond is kindly in the driving seat. And I’m wearing a dress and tights for the first time since Christmas.
It’s a 600 mile round trip to Croydon from North Wales. I can’t remember when I last did a 17 hour working day but it was worth it. Although there were a few moments crawling through rush hour London traffic that we started to doubt this a little. Just a little.
When you walk through the door and they put a Pina Colada in your hand, you know it’s going to be a great day.
I don’t think I’ve ever stepped into a “business” environment that is less corporate and more ‘on brand’ in such a pleasing way. Think sunshine and Caribbean vibes. High ceilings and bright windows. Open plan space flooded with light. All the luscious tropical plants. Bright colours and “tropic” walls. Sumptuous settees and cosy cushions. Basket chairs swinging from the ceiling. Fruity cocktails aflow with the fabulous Mr Fogg’s Mixologists. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d walked onto the set of Death in Paradise, after the murder’s been solved, when they’re all relaxing at the beachside bar.
Susie Ma, who at 15 made her first pot of Body Scrub to sell at Greenwich Market, is just about the loveliest lady you are ever likely to meet. Not only did she inspire us all with her welcoming words to her “dream come true” moment, but she made every single person feel valued and part of the Tropic community. She spent the afternoon working the room – sitting, kneeling and perching on cushions to speak to everyone that she could. I was delighted to have a brief chat with her. She thanked me for coming such a long way, was genuinely interested in my blog work for Tropic, and encouraged me to fill a bag with samples on the way out. Such a delightful lady. You don’t meet too many real ladies these days, never mind delightful ones.
Lord Sugar is exactly like you see him on The Apprentice. The biggest surprise of the day for me was seeing him roll up in his Rolls AMS 1 and realising that he actually uses it to get around London. I honestly thought it was just an Apprentice stunt!
It was lovely to see how proud he is of Susie and how, together and with the team, they have created something quite special. He is certainly seeing the return on his investment. Currently Tropic has a £40m turnover, made possible by 12,000 Ambassadors.
Just imagine what a brand new £4m 48,000ft HQ will do for the numbers. Watch this space. And if you spot Lord Sugar grinning in his Rolls Royce – you’ll know why.
Buffets are out. Grazing is in. You heard it here first.
All credit to Grape and Fig who spent the morning assembling (or perhaps curating) a grazing table to make your eyes pop out of your head. Even the most hardened meat eater would struggle not to turn vegan today.
The first group of 20 left on the tour soon after lunch so I got myself lined up with the 2nd group. A small part of me felt that chilly excitement that Sam Neill and Laura Dern must have felt on that very first Jurassic Park Tour. Exploring a brand new almost unbelievable world. That one didn’t end so well. Today’s tour was a lot safer and far more enjoyable.
After we got suited and booted in our very attractive “protective” outfits complete with hair nets – a great leveller – it was off for the factory tour.
The first thing you notice is how many nations are represented on the workforce. The second thing you notice is how smiley they all are.
This new facility is 5 times bigger than their previous workshop so they’ve been able to bring every part of the process under the same roof. From huge vats of ingredients arriving from the Tropics to the giant “cooking” machines and the mega mixer, it all reminded me of the cake making process which isn’t all that different.
Despite the introduction of much needed technology and mechanisation, there are still a lot of human hands involved in the process. Mixing products, quality checking, filling pots and jars, and hand applying the paper sleeves. And oh the smell. A heady mix of tropical plants, flowers and essential oils. What a wonderful working environment.
The picking and packing department was like Santa’s Grotto. Rows and rows of shelves with crates full to bursting with familiar products. Lines of pickers assembling customer orders and Ambassador boxes. Finally out to the dispatch area. Trolleys piled high with boxes on their way round the country. DPD vans lined up round the building ready for deliveries. Quite an operation.
The final joy of the day was joining Leafage for a mini terrarium creating workshop. A delightful and very simple activity to finish off a lovely afternoon. And of course an excuse for another cocktail. My baby terrarium made it home so now I need to find the perfect spot to hang it. Once a month watering sounds good to me, so it might have a chance of surviving.
WE ARE TROPIC
If you get nothing else from a day with Tropic (and there is lots to get, believe me) you’ll see and hear the “community” message loud and clear. There is an authenticity about this brand that is rare. If you chose to involve yourself with Tropic – as an Ambassador, a staff member, a customer, or a humble blogger – you will become part of a community. Dare I say – family. It might sound cliche but it’s evidenced in every corner of this brand new office especially on the “We are Tropic” Wall where you might just find your photograph.
This company might have been significantly helped on it’s way by Lord Sugar’s deep pockets. It might be at the head of the curve with Veganism, Green Beauty and Sustainability. But let’s not forget it started on market stall and now over 100 products are being sold on 12,000 market stalls all over the UK. Without this incredible team of women who are so passionate about the brand, Tropic would not be anywhere near where it is today.
As for me. I’m done with grabbing big brand bottles off the Boots shelves. I’ve found a brand that I love and I believe in. Today has given me “an insider’s guide” to something very special. It has showed me that the trust I’ve put in this brand is well placed.
I was made to feel welcome, valued and part of a community that genuinely make a different to our struggling planet. If you don’t believe me, just watch and see.
I’ll be talking a lot more about some new Tropic products over the coming months so keep an eye out. And maybe subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss any posts. Just scroll down the Home Page and complete the Subscribe box.