Nurme is 14, and on this occasion, we are looking back on how it all began. “Slow and steady wins the race,” says an Estonian proverb, and that’s exactly how Nurme has slowly but steadily achieved significant milestones.
Family Business: A Slow Start
Nurme is the result of a mother-daughter collaboration. Luule, the mother, is the founder of the company, and Marit, the daughter, became the brand’s creator. Initially, the brand was named Nurme Seep, as the focus was on crafting handmade soaps, and they couldn’t see beyond their soap workshop at the time. Over time, they expanded their product range to include bath cosmetics, body scrubs, and body butters.
In 14 years, the production space has grown from 35 square meters to 3000 square meters—an impressive hundredfold increase.
Nurme’s story began in Marit’s small kitchen. Gradually, they moved from one rented space to another until they finally built their own. Luule’s big dream was to see Nurme operating in a production farm. This dream came true in 2015 when she and her husband acquired a farm in Kose, Räbina. A long construction period followed, which credit needs to go to Märt, Marit’s father and Luule’s husband, for his golden hands in building the production farm.
Today, the company operates in the former bread factory in Tapa. There’s more space than initially needed, instilling confidence in future expansions. Hopefully, space constraints won’t be a concern in the coming years.
The First Year
After three years of making soaps in her kitchen, Marit passed on all her knowledge to her mother. In the early days of the business, Luule was behind the soap-making, while Marit focused on sales.
Finding distributors proved to be a challenging task for Marit. She lacked sales experience and knowledge of retail, and she didn’t even know the appropriate markup percentages for retail. Some merchants were only interested in consignment sales. In the beginning, they faced setbacks when one of their distributor didn’t sell the products but went bankrupt, leaving the fledgling company without its investment.
The early years taught Luule that tough economic conditions could also have a positive impact. Product demand was low, but it gave them time to learn and make plans. With determination and motivation, she persevered in this new field. Despite long days, their enthusiasm didn’t wane. Initially, they produced approximately 500 soaps per month—a small start on the road to a big dream.
Challenging Years and Lessons
The early years were not easy. During the first three years, it wasn’t clear when they could start paying salaries. Between the third and fifth years of operation, Marit and Luule had their biggest disagreement to this day. According to marketing and sales textbooks, packaging sells the most, but the initial Nurme Seep packaging was overshadowed by their competitors. “It’s important to understand that my mother, coming from the Soviet era, didn’t trust this ideology. She believed that if it’s a good product, packaging doesn’t matter,” says Marit. Differences between the two generations even led to thoughts of going separate ways. However, a new packaging design was eventually adopted, and sales numbers started to rise. This enlightening experience transformed them both.
The First Soap: Authenticity and Evolution
The first soap was crafted to resemble authentic traditional handmade soap. Labels were printed, cut to fit by hand, and affixed to colorful paper. This solution was modest in materials but consumed a lot of time.
Dreaming and Transformation
Marit encourages to dream, as 14 years ago, the current Nurme seemed impossible. Today’s vision was once a dream. Nurme has opened doors to new opportunities, encouraged experimentation, and revealed hidden talents.
Family Business: Strong Relationships and Values
Luule and Marit emphasize the positivity of a family business. Family ties related to a common venture help them to understand each other deeply and strengthen their connection to shared values. Nurme has been the lifelong work of both mother and daughter, where time and effort have been freely given. “Family never lets you down. I believe it’s thanks to our family that Nurme has reached this current stage,” says Luule.
Challenges and Growth
Marit sees growth as an integral part of the company’s DNA. “Stagnation is regression,” she says. Recent years
have been essential for development, focusing on processes, digitalization, and the e-commerce platform. Nurme’s most significant growth period was in 2020, when Marit herself experienced burnout. As the company grows, they must face increasingly complex challenges and issues. “The solution was to put my husband, Jimmy, in charge of Nurme. Initially, it was temporary, but as it turns out, Jimmy is an irreplaceable addition to our family business,” says Marit.
Our desire is for Nurme to be the most beloved, preferred, and accessible domestic natural cosmetics brand. While we have international reach, we base our product development on the wishes of local customers. The domestic market is always our top priority. Nurme is more than just a brand to us—it’s a story. It’s a story of a production farm, smiling employees, cozy workshops, and our continuous development. We hope that everyone who reads about Nurme can envision the beautiful pictures and stories that come with our brand.
Marit’s Favorite Products
Luule’s Favorite Products
The future is full of opportunities and challenges, and Nurme is ready to face them head-on.