From Nooma Organics to The Severn Weigh?
Towards the end of September 2017, I made the incredibly difficult decision to take a break from my skincare manufacture of my brand 'Nooma Organics' in order to rethink the direction of the business. I was then faced with an awful quandary - if I took time out from the business, then the organic certification with the soil association, that I had worked so hard to achieve, would also need to come to an abrupt end rather than to simply pause. I had hoped that I could simply pick up from where I left off when I felt ready to re-engage with the business but because the soil association had begun to certify all skincare brands through the EU COSMOS certification standards, this would entail starting from scratch and working with different criteria.
At that time, I felt run down and needed the break and so felt that I had no choice but to simply stop and think about the certification at a later date. I took six months out from the business and focused on the family and our new puppy!
I then began walking the dog daily along the river Severn - the Severn Way - but felt so saddened by the accumulation of plastic debris that had washed up on the shore and so together with my family, we began to gradually clear away bags of plastic and litter.
As a family, for some time we had already been transitioning into a zero-waste lifestyle and focused primarily to reduce single use plastics in our home but felt so disturbed by the plastics in our river and wondered how I might be able to find a way to help reduce plastics on a wider scale in our home town Thornbury.
Alongside a good deal of research, a new business idea emerged - a heart felt mission to open a zero-waste / plastic free organic loose food shop, preferably within our home town Thornbury. Although we had lots of other ideas, it seemed fitting to name the business venture ‘The Severn Weigh’ after our river walk inspiration, the ‘Severn Way’ - hope you like the pun! Likewise, our goose logo, whilst not food related also refers to the river; inspired by a goose family that I used to look out for each morning!
In 2018 I devised a questionnaire about the prospect of opening a zero waste shop and set up a facebook page @SevernWeigh and received a lot of positive feedback. However, after nearly a year of research, planning and securing funds, we were unable to find affordable local premises and then the whole Brexit issue loomed large - and so we reached an incredibly difficult decision to take a step back to rethink.
After about one year of working with a local organic food co-op, focusing on bulk foods and packaging, I realised that I didn't want let go of my original plans to open a zero waste shop and so we decided to look again at available properties in the area. This decision coincided with COVID 19 and the impact this had on shops which strangely opened up a new possibility that I hadn't really thought about - a zero waste click and collect store.
After much searching for premises, we were really excited to discover a building on a farm at Oldbury-on-Severn, making our 2 year wait seem worthwhile, given that this is where our inspiration for our business and its name originated! We loved the location and watching the swallows overhead in the field. And so we have finally opened The Severn Weigh!
The Severn Weigh is a zero-waste Click 'n' Collect grocery store with a local home delivery service based at Oldbury Naite, Oldbury-on-Severn, near Thornbury, offering organic loose whole foods, plastic free toiletries, personal and household items. We offer a home delivery service to local residents and those living in the surrounding areas in South Gloucestershire with the postcode BS35. Information on Click 'n' Collect HERE.
We are a vegetarian family business with a commitment to ethical sourcing, vastly reducing waste, to omit single use plastics and essentially to promote sustainable living. Part of our goal is to work with local suppliers that fit with our ethics.
And what about my skincare brand, Nooma Organics? With hindsight, I realise that I should probably have kept it going, because the majority of my products were already packaged plastic free and my ethos already fitted well with the zero-waste movement. However, I did need that time out! My hope is that I will be able to start making again and offer some products at our own store. Watch this space...
I have kept and reworked this website, which I originally designed to sell my skincare, and so my previous blog posts are still below. I could remove them, but I have decided to leave them up for now since they represent several important years which helped lead us to this new challenge, The Severn Weigh.
The Severn Weigh, Oldbury Naite, Oldbury-on-Severn, South Gloucestershire, BS35 1RU.