5 minutes with Luke Bidwell, Heyland & Whittle's Own Brand Manager

Luke Bidwell, Own Brand Manager at Heyland & Whittle

All of the luxury Heyland & Whittle products from handmade Soap Bars to gorgeous Reed Diffusers are available to buy via our website and are just one side of our business. Did you know that we also spend a lot of our time creating health and beauty and home fragrance products for customers including Buckingham Palace, and Fortnum & Mason?

That's the role of our Own Brand department, which is managed by Luke Bidwell. He recently found five minutes in his busy schedule to explain what his job involves, and to provide a sneak peek of some of the incredibly exciting projects his team is currently working on.

What's a typical day like for you as Heyland & Whittle's Own Brand Manager?

"My role at Heyland & Whittle is to manage and develop our private-label range. We create lots of different bespoke products for our customers who rebrand them under their own names. In a typical day, I can be dealing with everything from gift shops to large department stores and from charities to corporate organisations, so it's certainly a varied job.

"I'm the first member of the team that an Own Brand customer will speak to, and I'll work with them throughout the process, from initial costings right the way through to delivery. At the same time, I work with our Heyland & Whittle workshop manager Abby to make sure the manufacture of the products runs as smoothly as possible.

"I also work closely with our soap-maker Charlie on the specific blends, colourings and fragrances that the clients want, and with Tracy, who manages our candle department. Candles account for around 70% of our Own Brand business, and we need to make sure the burn is right, the wick looks okay and the candle vessels we are using are appropriate for the brief.

"Keeping everything moving is one of my main responsibilities, so there are a lot of emails to send in a typical day too!"

Which aspect of your role do you love best?

"It's always great to see all of our hard work pay off, so my favourite part of the process has to be receiving the first order for a product that we've spent several months working on - it makes all of those days of emails worth it!"

Which Own Brand products are you especially proud of?

"I'm particularly pleased with our work with Buckingham Palace. We first started working with the team in late 2016 and launched a range of bath and body products, as well as home fragrance products, inspired by the palace gardens in their gift shop in summer 2017.

It's great to see products that we've designed in the palace gift shop

Image credit: DaLiu via iStock

"Buckingham Palace is open for tours when the Queen is away, and it's great to see products that we've designed in the palace gift shop, and they're proving really popular, allowing people to take home a little reminder of their grand day out.

"I'm also really proud of the candles we produce for Fortnum & Mason, especially the travel tin candle that we've recently introduced to their collection. It's very small, but looks stunning and has a really long burn time and beautifully powerful fragrance.

"Another favourite that I've worked on has to be the shampoo balm that we've produced for The Brighton Beard Company. It looks like a black soap bar, so is a real twist on men's grooming, but it smells amazing and has proved incredibly popular - you can use it on skin as well as beards, so it's great and really versatile."

Have you worked on any unusual private-label requests?

"A few years ago, we were asked to develop a massage candle for Rigby & Peller. At the time, we'd never heard of massage candles before, but now you can find them in lots of department stores, so we're proud to have been there in their early days.

"After a lot of testing from all of our staff, we produced a blend that we all loved, and it's brilliant to have seen massage candles become so popular since."

What's your favourite product from the Heyland & Whittle range?

"My favourite product is definitely the Clementine & Prosecco Hand Wash. I helped to launch this fragrance, and it's been fantastic to see it become one of our bestsellers. It's so fresh and powerful, and with its brightly coloured packaging, it looks fab in every bathroom."

Can you tell us what the Own Brand team has planned for the rest of the year?

"We're currently working on a few really exciting projects, including one for Harrods - watch this space! - and another for Tiptree, which makes all flavours of jams and preserves. We will be making a range of soaps for them inspired by all of the fruits that they grow on their farms - I'm especially looking forward to seeing the strawberry jam-inspired soap come together."

Lusting after sweet-smelling soap and luxury home fragrance after reading this? Treat yourself to something from our range here