Meet the Maker: Annabelle Brocks, Hawkins Organic
Did you know that Annabelle Brocks makes horse care as beautiful as the headbands she designs? Nope, neither did we, until a quest to find the best quality organic horse care lead us to Hawkins Organic.
We were thrilled to catch up with Belle and get the story behind her marvellous company...
Welcome to Meet The Maker, Belle! Can you start by telling us a bit about the story behind Hawkins Organic?
Hawkins Organic launched in 2014 as I wanted to create a range of natural and, where possible, organic products for ourselves and our beloved horses and dogs. Since 2010 I have fought two bouts of breast cancer and whilst I was unwell, I decided to invest in myself more. With the help of a lot of research I started to gain a better understanding of some of the nasty ingredients that many grooming and beauty products unfortunately contain. With that in mind I decided to develop a range for myself, my family and our animals that was as natural and eco-friendly as possible without parabens and nasty chemicals.
And that you have done! Did you have a background in horse care beforehand, or is this something totally new?
I didn’t have a career with horses (as a child I always dreamt of it so it’s fate!) and is about as far away from my previous career in the corporate world as you could get! I have always had horses though and love the grooming and caring side as much as the riding so have tried a lot of lotions and potions over the years. I started my career as a Conference and Events Assistant for Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and then travelled for a while which included time in Australia working for The Wine Society. I then worked for a media agency and my longest position was working for 12 years in London as a Lifestyle Manager, I moved to Suffolk in 2012 and set up a pop-up lifestyle shop focusing on interiors, styling and even included a little dog boutique! I was keen to stock, where possible, organic and natural animal products and really struggled to find any so that was part of my inspiration for starting Hawkins!
That's fantastic and really inspiring. What’s so great about going chemical-free and why do you think our customers should try it?
I have been into aromatherapy and essential oils for years and always enjoyed making lots of DIY products that were as natural as possible; I discovered that simple is often key and can be just as effective. After my cancer journey it struck me that people get to choose what they use on their skin but at the time there wasn’t the same choice for animals so I thought why not set about developing a range for horses and dogs. I was also very conscious at the time of having two young stepchildren who were constantly grooming and bathing their pony; I wanted to ensure they were not inhaling anything toxic or using anything full of chemicals on their skin. Grooming products are a personal choice, but I think why use something that is synthetic when you can use something which mother nature has done an amazing job creating.
Here, here! Especially when natural products are often even more effective than those using synthetic ingredients. On that note, how do you choose your ingredients?
I choose them depending on what we are trying to achieve; so for a relaxing puppy spray I would use a calming oil such as lavender and for sensitive skin horse shampoos I would try and use oils that would help with itching but whilst also keeping the skin and coat hydrated. I like to look at products like a jigsaw – piecing together the oils and components that I need to do a specific job. I also try and ensure we use Fairtrade or sustainably grown ingredients as much as possible and always try to support family businesses and local businesses in our supply chain.
Have you got any exciting new products in the pipeline that you could give us a sneaky insight into?
Yes! We are very excited to be extending our human range later this year and have a new collection launching in a few weeks which I have loved creating.
What’s your favourite Hawkins product and why?
It’s so hard to choose one but I love our fly spray, Buck off, as it is so effective, smells amazing and the name always makes me smile! I even use it on myself in the summer when the flies and midges start! Sloe Down is another favourite – nothing like treating myself to a warm bath after coming in from walking the dogs and putting Jasper the pony to bed!
And finally, the question we ask all of our makers, what's your top horse care ‘hack’?
Due to its anti-viral and antibacterial properties I use Eau De Neigh to clean our grooming kits and spray off brushes after use, I generally always have bottles scattered around the yard and find the peppermint very refreshing and stimulating!
Thank you so much to Belle Brocks for giving us the story behind the brand. You can check out the Hawkins Organic horse care products here.