Nurme celebrates its 12th birthday this month. This time was preceded by another 3 years of hobby experiments with handmade soaps and bath cosmetics. How has it grown into one of Estonia’s most preferred natural cosmetics brands?
It all started when Nurme’s co-founder Marit Tiits started experimenting with soap making in her small home kitchen after the birth of her daughter. At first she was interested in making Christmas presents for friends and relatives, but later on her personal need to provide relief for his dry and itchy skin. It was clear that skin problems affected many people, and it became clear that in order to restore the vitality of your skin, you have to start with the choice of body wash.
The first soap was boiled at home, the first soapbox was on top of the cupboard. “I got soapstone from a friend, I bought coconut oil, palm oil, olive and sunflower oil from the store,” recalls Marit her first soap making, which was instructed on the English Internet, and raw materials were bought for a very expensive price from eco-shops.” Although the cost of the soap was quite crisp, the first experiment was a great success,” Marit recalls. Of course, the beginner soap maker then started to make a new batch, but neither the second nor the third soap making came out – she was very excited, but there was little knowledge. Despite the first failures, Marit soon distributed 800 soaps for free to acquaintances.
Marit recalls a memorable story: “When I started making soap, the first soaps went as gifts. Many recipients used the soaps carefully and were amazed at how their skin no longer itched and praised the gift to heaven. It was amazing that I only tried the soaps I made myself half a year later and came to the same result. At first, I thought that soap is just a nice accessory in the bathroom and never thought of washing myself with it. The excitement was even greater when I realized that I had managed to change the world. ”
The real push for the establishment of Nurme natural cosmetics as a family business came from the financial crisis of 2009, when both Marit and her mother Luule Tiits received both redundancy notices. “Then I told my mother that the hardest part, the beginning has been made, take over the soap business,” says Marit. “A lot of people ask for natural soap.”
Luule reminds: “I started a company first, we named it Nurme Looduskosmeetika – Marit and I thought a little more broadly than just soap-making,” Luule recalls the beginning of entrepreneurial path, who had previously worked at Kose Furniture store for ten years. The hard-working woman herself, with the support of the Unemployment Insurance Fund, went on to acquire basic knowledge of managing the company, and the unemployment fund also came with the initial capital to start production.
“I started improving my computer skills and also learned English. I collected teaching materials on the Internet, researched laws that allow handmade cosmetics to be sold, and bought the raw materials I needed. I always tried and did analyzes. At one point, I discovered that I already had too much soap at home. What will I do with them? ” recalls Luule. However, the spring fair period began, Luule packed her soaps and went to sell them to the people. “I thought it would be good even if I just got rid of them all. But it was a big surprise when I realized that buyers are very interested in such products.”
Later, the father of the family and now also the husband of Marit has joined the company. All family members improve each other, each has a specialty in a certain field of activity. This year Nurme Natural Cosmetics was awarded the title of Family Business of the Year by EAS (Enterprise Estonia). Today, the company has a total of 12 employees and an additional 8 freelancers who offer services in the fields of design, marketing, web development, product development, etc.
Nurme production farm is located in Harju County, Kose Parish, Liiva Village. In recent years, we have been operating in the same place, but before that, we moved four times – each time to a slightly larger production area. In our heads we had a dream that Nurme, which literally means a place where flowers and butterflies grow, should be located in such an environment. 5 years ago, exactly such a farm in the village of Liiva was waiting for us. In fact, it was an old barn full of manure that reached till the knees. Thanks to Marit’s parents and father’s golden hands, there are 4 functional buildings in the farm complex today, the last of which is a completely new production building built only for the production of soaps. “We laugh at ourselves that our pace is to build one house a year. It would certainly be easier to move into a technology park than to produce on a farm, but we have stuck to our principle that the environment where Nurme is produced must support Nurme’s own values - be close to nature,” says Marit. However, the Nurme warehouse with an office recently moved to new, larger premises in Tallinn, and some of our customers have also come to visit our new showroom.
Many may remember the Nurme soap representative store in the Sikupilli center over the years. At that time, as a relatively little-known brand, there was a desire to be closer to our customers. Over the years, however, it was possible to develop an e-shop and expand the network of resellers to such an extent that it was no longer practical to maintain a separate store.
Where is Nurme today and where to go next?
Today, Nurme has grown into one of the most preferred domestic natural cosmetics brands. The small soap manufacturer has grown into a full-body care brand that covers the body’s needs from toes to hair, including men and babies. Nurme’s motto is that nature offers everything to people and skincare should be limited to that. “Our customer is every person who is attracted to nature and who thinks a little about the well-being of the environment. We want to be a brand that the customer can trust to the end, because it is inconceivable that the consumer is aware of all possible ingredients that should be avoided in cosmetics. “says Marit.
Nurme’s short-term plans include expanding the product range to those categories where the selection is currently small. For example, facial care will soon be supplemented with new and exciting facial products. Developing new products is an ongoing process at Nurme, as it is very time-consuming. On average, product development for one product is 1-2 years, but there are also those that take even longer.
Marit recommends every Estonian to make a choice in favor of a domestic manufacturer in terms of cosmetics and household chemicals. “Then there is no risk of making a mistake, because Estonian cosmetics manufacturers are all of very good (and natural) quality. It is definitely worth making sure that the manufacturer has official, safety assessments and analyses done. This ensures that the product is safe for the user and tested in the laboratory.” Nurme is inspected by various agencies several times a year.”
The biggest problem is greenwash. Small producers can’t afford it, but large corporations can. It can be seen that the content of the product has not changed for decades, but the green leaflets, flower pictures and packaging appear on the packaging As our small local producer, we need to be transparent and any fraud would stand out right away. I have very high standards for both cosmetics and cleaning products and when formulating Nurme products it must first go through my own filter. Of course, I make the best choices for myself and our clients will get a part of it too “confirms Marit.