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31 March 2016

My Lush Factory Tour - Part 1



Way back before the Kitchen sunk its claws into the lives of Lushies all across the globe, the excitement and mystery rested solely on what went on in the Lush factories. For a company that make their own products by hand, and who happen to make some of the most amazing cosmetics on the planet, there is something incredibly interesting about knowing where and how the process of these items begin, and how they make their way into our bathrooms and ultimately, into our hearts.

Walking into each and every one of the Lush factories yesterday was like being ten again and stepping into a sweet shop for the very first time. And right there may be the first piece of information that you didn't know about the Lush factories - there are many of them. In fact, I was told that Lush are constantly looking for new spaces to branch out in, as the company are forever expanding due to consumer demand. They are doing incredibly well for themselves, and good for them. 


Not only does the company have numerous warehouses for the many different departments within the Lush brand, but the buildings are actually scattered about across Poole - some within metres of each other, others a fair bit further. This meant that there was a fair bit of walking and driving between the visits, which may not be particularly conducive for visitors,  but it's something that Lush make work when it comes to production and shipment. 

My tour started off in the dairy/filling department - a place that initially seemed fairly empty and quiet. Here I learnt that it was products such as the lotions, hair care, scrubs and shower gels that were made in this factory, and I was able to catch a glimpse of the meticulous planning and execution that goes into making certain fan favourites such as Enzymion and Dream Cream.

At the start of my tour, I learnt that there was a room kept especially for the preparation of the fresh produce, and here I was introduced to a machine that was supposedly able to de-shell 300 eggs in under a minute. I was also treated to a tour of the refrigerator, where all of the fruit and vegetables were stored, and I was amazed at just how much is needed on a daily basis to fulfil the demand. 


While this area wasn't particularly busy, I was able to witness a fresh batch of Self-Preserving Ocean Salt being combined, and when I say I wanted to bathe in it, it's no word of a lie. I was also able to observe and admire the barrels of creams and hair care that were close to being finished, and although it's difficult to make out the fragrances while they're in this state, I was able to appreciate the exciting prospect of a colossal barrel full of Happy Happy Joy Joy.

What I love about Lush is that they're all about the small detail as well as the larger gestures, and one aspect of this initial stage of the tour that impressed me was the decoration around each and every one of the compound rooms. As demonstrated in the photo above, the factory was all about celebrating where the raw ingredients had come from, and the people/communities that went behind sourcing those components. Ladened around the rooms were pictures and captions about these incredible people and the effort they go to harvest these ingredients for the company. A small but very powerful message to anyone who is working in that room at the time.



As we continued through the warehouse, I was introduced to the 'shop floor' where a good few hundred employees were filling and labelling bottles and tubs - getting them ready to be shipped off to the various shops around the country, and indeed the world. While they made it look so incredibly easy, you'd be amazed at how difficult it was to not only fill the bottles with the correct amount of product, but to execute it fast enough to keep up with the competitive  production line. Hats off to each and every one of those employees: as you can see from the photo above, I was definitely not up for this particular challenge.

Despite my terrible execution of the bottles, I was given another chance to fill some tubs with a fresh batch of Dream Cream. I didn't fair too badly with these, but it was very clear that, was I to work at the speed I was going at, an eight-hour shift would probably take me in the realm of thirty hours to complete. I left the experts to their work, and just hoped that I hadn't messed up their regime too much.



Above the production floor, I found myself in a maze of sticker rolls - towering mounds to coincide with each and every product that was made in that particular factory. What was amazing was that; firstly, Lush Oxford Street had its own section; secondly, there were labels from products that were no longer around (and a few that gave away some future releases); and finally, that there were labels to coincide with every other country that Lush ship to.

During my tour, I found out that Lush have been constantly trialling and testing out new, more manageable ways of 'manning' their factories. While there were a number of machines present on the warehouse floor, not very many of them were being used, and this is because Lush have found that it's more efficient to use people to stick on the labels, than it is a piece of machinery. For this reason, most of what I witnessed in this factory was being done by hand. A personal touch that we all know goes, but is always nice to see. 

While this part of the tour only took us about fifteen minutes to complete, my head was already cluttered with the amount of fascinating and incredibly compelling information involving the way that Lush function outside of their stores. Who knew what laid ahead for me in the next factory? If one thing was for certain, it was that I couldn't wait to find out...

8 comments

  1. Jen, thank you so much for your blog, and for sharing your lush visit experiences. It's so appropriate that Lush Kitchen had you come during Voted week, because like this week's items, you are definitely a fan favorite!
    The more I learn about Lush the more impressed I am by how much work and care goes into everything they do.
    So happy for you that Lush treated you to such a special time, and love that you are writing all about it so we can all live vicariously through you :D

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  2. AlwAys love seeing behind the scenes! Can't wait to read what happened next!

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  3. It's so cool to see, isn't it? My co-workers and I got to visit the Lush factory in Vancouver, so I can relate. It's amazing.

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  4. Awesome! Thank you so much for sharing your experience! :)

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  5. Ugh you're so lucky!! <3

    indulgentrose.blogspot.com

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  6. I love the pictures on the wall of where the base products come from. Sometimes we get so lost in the products that we forget that they are all sourced from local communities and growers.

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