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Indigo Herbs: empowering the people

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Based in Glastonbury, Indigo Herbs began as the brainchild of Steve McKewon in his garden office back in 2004. Mckewon spotted a gap in the market when he was searching for unusual natural health ingredients for himself and his family online. So he decided to source for himself some herbs, superfoods and wholefoods, and sell them on eBay; he then quickly set up a Web shop and Indigo Herbs was born.

Indigo 240 wide - digitalBoth McKewon and his partner Claire Kelly were on a journey of discovering how plants could assist the body in naturally healing, and with a background in holistic therapies Kelly came on board to research and write about these products and bring together Indigo Herbs online Natural Health Guide. At the same time Michael Hanby joined them and the trio set out to supply quality herbs and superfoods at affordable prices using the booming platform of e-commerce.

Indigo Herbs has gone from strength to strength and now distributes and retails over 500 different own-brand natural health products internationally. The company revitalized its range with a revamp late last year as well as streamlining its product offer.

Here, NPN talks to director Claire Kelly about the company – its ethics, aims and priorities.

Can you tell me a bit about the aim of Indigo Herbs?

Our mission is to provide excellent quality, pure, natural health ingredients, namely herbs, superfoods and wholefoods, and continue to make them accessible and affordable. We are here to support the individual on their journey of reclaiming their health and wellbeing naturally. We are all about empowering people to take responsibility for their body, their lifestyle and their health and use the resources Mother Nature has given us to bring their wellbeing back into harmony and balance. Our greatest wish would be a daily wheatgrass shot for everyone.

Our mission is to provide excellent quality, pure, natural health ingredients, namely herbs, superfoods and wholefoods, and continue to make them accessible and affordable.

You have a wide range, how do you choose what products to offer?

Organic Moringa Powder Cut OutSteve, the founder and managing director of Indigo Herbs, thrives in his role of sourcing new products. He has a keen eye for what is new and a genuine interest in discovering the next superfood, herbal remedy or nutrient rich wholefood. He is excited that through the Internet the democratization of knowledge has meant that people are interested in healing plants and foods with thousands of years of traditional use from the other side of the world. It’s a great time of sharing and evolution. We have more ideas for new products than we can keep up with, but we are always looking to introduce botanicals with a story of healing.

Is origin an important factor?

Absolutely. We work with suppliers that have a genuine respect for the earth, and through their work of sourcing organic farming cooperatives in India, South America or Africa, we are benefitting from some delicious nutrient rich superfoods and herbs that may not have had a market ten years ago. Our customers are interested in where this plant is from, the more sophisticated customer now wants to know about the origin of their food, and rightly so.

What is the company’s stance on fair trade?

Well we are a Living Wage Company and this means that we pay the Living Wage as set by The Living Wage Foundation to our staff members. This rate is decided upon by working out the actual costs of living in a particular area of the UK at this time. We do not agree with Big businesses profiting and not paying their workers the minimum that they need to live. If business is to be a vehicle for social change then we must start by trading fairly at home.

We do not agree with Big businesses profiting and not paying their workers the minimum that they need to live. If business is to be a vehicle for social change then we must start by trading fairly at home.

Many of the ingredients we sell are certified as fairly traded, but have not yet gone through the process of passing that onto our customers. We’d like to do that in the future, in the same way we’d like to certify our products as gluten-free with the celiac society but we cannot do everything at once. Patience and pacing are two of the virtues to be acquired when growing a small business.

How does your own location influence the workings of the company?

about us_0Glastonbury is a small town in Somerset, with a thriving alternative culture. Most of our employees are local and this certainly means that the working culture at Indigo Herbs is quite unique. We believe in gross national happiness as a factor for success, and value quality of working life as well as the end result, which is still profit orientated. However we do see business as a vehicle for social change and we are determined to create a business model that is holistically beneficial.

You recently transformed the look of the brand – how did that come about?

Well it was just necessary because Indigo Herbs had grown out of its old look. The old packaging was totally focused on e-commerce, ie you purchase because of the product information in the ad, not because of what it looks like – it was a functional packaging solution.

But it was time to give Indigo Herbs the look and feel that the products deserved, so we got together with a superbly talented set of designers and told them the Indigo Herbs story. It seemed that our heritage, being from Glastonbury, Somerset, UK, came out as pretty important. Because this wonderful town, known as a centre for alternative culture and natural healing has inspired Indigo Herbs mission, which is to share that vision with the world.

You have also streamlined your products into categories – what were the reasons behind this?

Well, we have over 500 different natural health ingredients, so we really needed some order! It also makes it easier for the customer to navigate, and it sets the superfoods and wholefoods, which are both just ordinary every day food apart from the herbs which are more specialist.

Last year you supported Veganuary – how is veganism a part of the brand’s philosophy?

The brand promotes a plant-based diet and natural lifestyle for reasons of health and wellbeing, but also as a solution to sustainability. We share these values with the Veganuary campaign. We are getting behind people who want to choose a plant-based lifestyle by making excellent quality, pure, nutrient rich, herbs, superfoods and wholefoods available and affordable. There are many people who think that a plant based lifestyle would result in malnutrition, but we are just part of a movement that is set to disprove that. It’s a very exciting time in which the plant based living movement is growing and solutions to sharing this planet and sustaining ourselves over future generations are being found in a way of life that does not depend on animal agriculture. Indigo Herbs is there to remind this modern society of an ancient wisdom that has been sustaining us for thousands of years, and that’s the unlimited power of plants.

The brand promotes a plant-based diet and natural lifestyle for reasons of health and wellbeing, but also as a solution to sustainability.

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Raw forms a substantial part of your offer – is this just because it crosses categories or is this a deliberate move?

The raw food movement advocates the nutritional benefits of pure non-heat treated foods. This doesn’t just mean eating salad it also means ensuring that nuts, seeds, grains and other dried foods have not been heat treated during manufacture.

Many of the foods that have traditionally been prepared by roasting, such as chocolate, nuts and seeds retain so much more of their nutrient value when they are processed in a low temperate environment.

We are delighted to offer raw dried food ingredients because these foods are indeed nutritionally superior and in demand by the raw food community.

Superfoods continue to be massive – how do you differentiate your offer?

Its true superfoods such as wheatgrass powder are now becoming a commodity in the same way as quinoa and chia seeds! This is a good thing, because this brings us closer to everybody including superfoods in their diet. As the market grows we can only really compete on being a unique brand. It’s our job to ensure that we obtain the best quality products and maintain the best market prices, but after that it’s a lot to do with brand love really. Indigo Herbs brings together ancient wisdom and cutting edge nutrition, that’s our unique offering really.

We bring together health and wellbeing ingredients from around the world and send them out to people all around the world, so we are consciously participating in a global community. We choose to work with suppliers that have a genuine concern for the earth, and actively demand organic wherever we can.

What are your priorities regarding organic, local and fair trade?

Wherever we can, we will secure an organic supply of a product line, however it’s a weigh up between organic certification and continuity supply. Customers really hate a product running out of stock, so it’s a balance between both of these factors.

We bring together health and wellbeing ingredients from around the world and send them out to people all around the world, so we are consciously participating in a global community. We choose to work with suppliers that have a genuine concern for the earth, and actively demand organic wherever we can.

 

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