If you’ve ever envisioned an emporium of carefully curated, aesthetically pleasing, British made products, then I’ve got a treat for you..
“Natural Isle was borne from the idea of creating a space which celebrated British made, natural and sustainable lifestyle products, without compromising on style,” says founder Lucy Murray.
“I have always been extremely passionate about shopping British made and, prior to Natural Isle, I found myself constantly checking labels – or scrolling down on product descriptions when I was online shopping – in the hope that I would see the crucial words ‘British made’. Each time I was left disappointed I thought to myself how wonderful it would be to have a space where I could guarantee everything available to purchase had been sustainably made in Britain. I believe it was in these moments of consideration that Natural Isle began to appear to me in perfect focus. The vision had been swirling around my mind for several years,” she tells me, “but in September 2021, after months of careful planning, Natural Isle finally became a reality!”
Prior to launching her online store, Lucy worked as a Personal Assistant. “My former role was fast-paced and demanding at times,” she tells me, “and required me to be flexible, proactive and able to juggle several things at once – all skills that have been crucial for launching and running a business!”
Lucy tells me that she found sourcing products for her store to be one of the most enjoyable aspects of running Natural Isle. “It is such an exciting feeling when you come across an incredible new brand that totally aligns with our ethos,” she says. “While searching for brands, the key criteria I have at the forefront of my mind is: British made, sustainably made in small batches, use of natural materials and/or ingredients, ethically made, vegan, aesthetically pleasing, neutral colour and interesting textures.”
Having such an extensive criteria when searching for compatible brands means that the Natural Isle product range is consistently coherent with their brand ethos and, when browsing the website, you can really feel that the collection has been mindfully curated.
We are based in Penrith on the outskirts of the Lake District, so we’re well and truly Northerners up here!
Around half of their current product offering is from makers based in the North of England. “This is a percentage we are continually striving to increase,” she tells me, “as we aim to source our collections from as close to home as possible to ensure we support the economy in which we live and drive down the carbon footprint of the brand even further.”
“We are based in Penrith on the outskirts of the Lake District, so we’re well and truly Northerners up here! We proudly source our wooden serving boards and spatulas from Hampson Woods, who are located only 40 minutes down the road from us in Windermere. Their approach to small-batch production is patient and considered, and they are equally careful with their sourcing of material – quite simply, no timber is worked with unless its provenance is known. This careful approach to production results in timeless, sturdy boards and spatulas which each have a unique grain.”
Lucy tells me it’s impossible to choose a favourite product amongst the collection as she knows the name of every maker who designs and creates their products, and understands the slow processes involved to manufacture each piece. “I have built a personal attachment to the collections and truly value each piece,” she says, “and always hope the recipient will cherish them just as much as we do!”
One of their best selling products since launch has been their ‘Soap on a Rope’, handmade in Kent by Kleensoaps. “The soaps have been conceived to help us reduce the use of plastic in our daily routines,” she tells me, “ensuring that no part of the soap is unused through a centred cotton rope.” Kleensoaps are crafted with plant-based ingredients and botanical essential oils, ensuring that they are paraben-free, vegan and have no artificial dyes, preservatives or fragrances. “Our favourite ‘Soap on a Rope’ has to be the Tall, Dark & Handsome,” she says, “a spicy, stimulating blend of coffee aromas, enriched with ginger and orange essential oil.”
Another favourite is their Dunton Eau De Parfum, which has been handmade in small batches in Brighton by ByMilo. “Intended for all genders, the fragrance is a subtle spicy and woody scent with wonderful notes of geranium, cedarwood, oud, patchouli, amber and sandalwood,” she says. “The lingering musk in the fragrance also helps to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety. Trust me on this one, it is divine!”
“We are so lucky to be based on the outskirts of the Lake District,” says Lucy, “so we have an abundance of natural scenery to draw inspiration from on a daily basis. I believe the natural colours and textures of the mountains and fells we are surrounded by have had a huge influence on the products I am drawn to. When searching for homeware pieces, for example, I look for unique grains in the wooden boards or an interesting texture on a ceramic mug to ensure that each piece tells its own story and is completely unique to each recipient – just like each mountain or fell in the Lake District has its own story to tell.”
Natural Isle’s slow living ethos taps into the growing desire for a simpler approach to life in the aftermath of the pandemic. “In 2022, as technology is continually accelerating and becoming more intertwined with our daily routines, the speed of our lives seems to be accelerating too,” says Lucy. “The advancement of technology has meant that we often feel like we should be connected and ‘available’ 24 hours a day. However, I think we have quickly learnt that this behaviour will lead to burnout and I believe that is why more and more people are yearning for a slower, more considered lifestyle where they consume less, but consume better.”
“I believe this is where my desire to shop British made stemmed from so many years ago,” she continues. “I wanted to choose the independent, small batch makers who were using slower, more sustainable methods to create their pieces. While this is, of course, the best choice for our local economy and our precious environment, I also knew the pieces would last so much longer as they were made with quality, natural materials too. Consuming products that have been handmade slowly in Britain is a huge way we can slow down our lives while also reducing our carbon footprint, boosting local economies, preserving UK craftsmanship and creating British job opportunities.”
“My ambitions are for more and more people to join us on the natural, sustainable & British made journey,” she says. “I’d love to grow our British made collections so that the Natural Isle website becomes a huge platform for British makers to share their pieces, along with increasing our percentage of Northern British makers to ensure we are sourcing pieces from as close to home as possible.”
“I really hope that Natural Isle becomes a website at the forefront of British shoppers’ minds when they are searching for their next sustainable product for themselves, for a gift or for their home.”
All photography © Natural Isle, used with permission.
Kate is the founder and editor of Fabric of the North, borne out of her passion for supporting mindful, aesthetic and sustainable small businesses. Based in the North West, by day she helps thoughtful small brands and solo business owners achieve meaningful growth through 1-2-1 guidance, intentional strategy and considered content creation. She is also a veteran blogger, having launched her award-winning interior lifestyle blog Fabric of my Life back in 2009.