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.
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.
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.
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...