As I discussed in part one, Lush are an ever-expanding company, and with the supply and demand increasing at a very rapid rate, they have had to find new work space to support the growing number of products they are creating. For those who have visited or who live in Poole, you'll know that there isn't really the opportunity for companies to purchase large areas of land to work from. Therefore, new Lush factories are being bought wherever and whenever there's an opportunity to do so - meaning that some of the buildings are quite a distance away from the others.
After a short car journey, I reached the factory that most people would sell their left ear to visit - the ballistics factory. While bath products are not my biggest crux when it comes to Lush, it's by far the area of expertise that the company are most famous for. And while the warehouse might not have been the magical place I envisaged in my head, it was definitely up there with being pretty spectacular.
Upon walking in, you're immediately greeted with an overpowering, powdery smell - one that I never adjusted to the whole time I was there. Imagine how strong a Lush shop smells when you first walk in and then multiply this by about ten thousand. It's incredibly cloying, and I found myself having to clear my throat a few times, just to be able to breathe.
While the above description might give you some idea of just how potent the aroma is, it's one that you have to experience for yourself to truly understand what I mean. And despite how irrefutable the scent was, it's was not in any way terrible. In fact, I was slightly comforted by all of the notes hitting my senses at once, like an out of control steam train hitting a brick wall.
Once inside, I noticed that there were two layers to the factory, and across the very back wall there were bags as big as cars filled with the basic ingredients needed to make the bath bombs. I discovered that the upper layer was where the compounders spent their time creating huge vats of different coloured and scented powders. At the time of my visit, they were working with two machines - both of which had the capacity to make batches that weighed in the tonnes.
However, the company's growing success means that the factory are looking to increase their production rate to meet the demand, and I was told that the warehouse are supposedly getting another handful of these machines to quadruple the efforts of the workers over the coming year.
Once the compounders had made a batch, the vats were taken down to the ground floor, and placed near the entrance of the warehouse. A set of employees, whose sole job it was to shift these colours, had the task of transporting large quantities of product to the workstations that needed it.
As I walked through the factory, I could see that there were workstations set up to make different bath bombs - some that were only responsible for making a specific part of one. Firstly, I visited two groups of employees who were making Twilight. One pair were only making the middle part of the bomb (as pictured above), before passing what they'd made onto the next workstation where the outer shell was then added to finalise the job.
To give credit to these workers, it looks a lot easier than it actually is, and I was amazed by how quickly and how perfectly they were able to make the bombs. What was great about the atmosphere across the entire factory, was that it was productive and quick-paced, but I never got the impression that anyone was overworked or stressed. Although there was a lack of music due to a faulty speaker that day, there was definitely a 'buzz' in the warehouse, and it reflected the happy environment that Lush clearly highlight in their ethics as a company.
After my failed attempt at making Twilight, I also tried my hand at a few Frozen Bath Bombs. However, once again my efforts highlighted the fact that I wasn't a natural, and I decided not to press my luck with trying an Intergalactic. Looking at the preparation that went into creating one of Lush's biggest selling ballistics, I thought it would be wise to watch from a distance. And I definitely made the right choice.
Once a crate of bath bombs had been completely, a dispatch note was assigned to the lot - documenting who had created the products and the time of completion. These were then wheeled into a cooler, where they were stored briefly before being shipped off to their final destination - the shops.
I was informed that all of Lush's bath bombs have to be stored in quite a cool setting while they're waiting to be sent away to the stores. The reason being is that the heat of the warehouse could cause the ingredients to react before they have had a chance to work for the customers. Leaving them out would mean that they'd probably lose their 'fizz' before reaching the shops, which would result in some pretty terrible bath bombs.
While venturing into the cooler to see the many products already waiting to be sent, I was excited to discovered the remains of a few broken giant Fluffy Egg Bath Bombs. These had been created for the sole purpose of being displayed in the company's flagship store, London Oxford Street. If 'm honest, there was a slight pang of jealousy on my part when I realised that I could only salivate over them, but unable to take one home to add to my collection.
Once I was finally dragged out of the cooler, and my pockets were checked for missing Dragon's Eggs (only kidding), I ventured outside of the warehouse to let the whole experience soak. As well as a dose of fresh air, I left the warehouse with a new perspective on how Lush as a company work, and a better appreciation of the process my bath bombs go through to get to me.
It was a truly wonderful experience, and while these pictures will never replicate just how incredible this factory is to be a part of, I hope that this article has given you a better insight into the magical world of Lush Cosmetics. While I revelled in how intoxicated I felt having experienced my favourite factory so far, little did I know just how incredible my day would turn out to be...