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Mother and daughter duo Vanessa Ralston and Kara-Leigh chat building a business during a pandemic

Some of the most beautiful things in life are born out of chaos, and an involuntary retrenchment for Kara-Leigh Baker in 2017, was the catalyst that propelled the dynamic mother and daughter duo, Vanessa Ralston and Kara-Leigh to pursue their passion for natural and organic products. Creating the French Lemon brand, that South Africans know and love today, was fuelled by the adoption of their beloved Russian-born bulldog Ian, who has not only become the inspiration behind the brand, but also the face on their environmentally friendly packaging.

With collective backgrounds in the corporate world, what started out as a pursuit to become purveyors of preserved lemons and other lemon edibles for mom Vanessa and daughter Kara-Leigh; soon evolved into the passionate production of 100% natural, vegan and animal friendly bath and body products. Three years later, Vanessa and Kara-Leigh have built their fledgling business into a profitable venture that has created employment and skills development for their team of ten, as well as established a respected and reputable proudly South African cruelty-free brand.

Let’s talk about French Lemon the brand. How did it come about?

It all started off with a retrenchment and an impending wedding for daughter Kara-Leigh Baker. There were no available job opportunities at the time so I approached my mom for guidance and we decided to create our own opportunities. We originally started manufacturing and selling lemon edible products such as preserved lemons but our research took us on a different path and found a gap in the market for vegan friendly, palm oil free, anti-cruelty, and sls free natural products, so mom- Vanessa Ralston & I decided to take a leap of faith and pursue this passion for these beauty products.

At the same time we adopted a Russian French Bulldog named Ian.

He was, and still is, loved, adored and was the inspiration behind part of the name and the face of the French Lemon.

For many business people sometimes the dynamic of working with family can be hard. How have as a mother and daughter duo made it work? What are some of the tips you can share with GLAMOUR readers on how to successfully work as a mother and daughter duo?

In the beginning it was hard to work together as mom and daughter. We quickly worked out we had to separate our rolls at work and at home. At work we are partners and colleagues, outside of work we are mother and daughter.

At the end of the day, It all boils down to respect, No one is better than the other. When issues arise, we deal with it by talking to one another, which always get resolved immediately. We are very blessed to have the strong bond we do .

Covid-19 saw a lot of businesses close down, and yet you managed to stay afloat. What did you do differently during this time?

We had to adapt quickly, In an attempt to flatten the curve during the national state of disaster, the French Lemon joined the Presidency in a nationwide crusade to safeguard the health and well being of all South Africans. We launched an an Anti-Bacterial range of soaps, lotions, gels, hand sanitisers and masks.

They not only do they cleanse but nourish, moisturise and soothe the skin too. During this very uncertain time, washing hands regularly prevents germs spreading and is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent bacteria from spreading.

You have a mom-to-be range, tell us more about that?

This range was developed when Kara fell pregnant earlier this year. It consists of Scrubs, Soaps, anti-nausea Roll on’s, Body Mousse, Belly Balm And massage oil. I found there was a need for a natural pregnancy range that was kind, safe and trusted to the mom-to-be’s skin. After trying and testing all the products, the belly balm has to be my favourite. Having a rapidly growing belly (some people think im having twins) and using belly balm everyday I have absolutely no stretch marks.

Whats your dream for the brand?

For more & more people to support local & use a quality, palm oil free, sls free and natural product. Our overall dream for our brand is to expand in the retail and luxury market and eventually open stores around South Africa and then internationally.

For women who are looking at starting their own businesses, what top 3 tips would you give them?

Trust your gut feeling with confidence.

Persevere no matter how tough it is.

Break your goals into daily tasks.

GLAMOUR and French Lemon are giving away a hamper with French Lemon Goodies to the value of R5000. To stand a chance to win, all you have to do is fill in your details below;

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