On first impressions, it seems that Lord Sugar and an eight-year-old girl from Perthshire would not have much in common. But in the case of one Amelia Milton, her entrepreneurial spirit puts her up there with the best of the business people.
When I heard about her soap business, ‘Smelleez’, my attention was piqued. Creating unique soaps with kooky names such as ‘Elf Sweat’ and ‘Monkey Farts’ by hand, I just had to find out more.
Speaking to her, she was visibly enthusiastic and passionate about what she does, and had a quiet assuredness. Amelia calls the shots in her business and it is clear to see.
All of Smelleez soaps are made in small batches in Amelia’s kitchen at home.
Delving into soap-making at age seven, Amelia first got the idea to make soap when she was at school and spotted a competition for Young Entrepreneurs. Initially she toyed with the idea of making LEGO inspired sweets, but ended up going with soap – but in Amelia’s words, “Everyone needs to use soap – so I figured I’d have a lot of customers!”
There’s certainly been no lack in customers, with Amelia regularly going out and about in Perth and wider Scotland to sell her soaps. Recently she got a stall at the Year of the Young Person’s Entrepreneur fair: even though initially they were only looking for people aged 16 – 25!
“We got in touch and told them all about Smelleez”, Amelia’s mum, Margaret tells me. “After they heard about it, they decided to change the age range to 8 – 25 to allow Amelia to take part too.”
The soaps themselves are absolutely divine. Her ‘Seaweed and Juniper’ bar is packed with blue poppy seeds to give you a thorough exfoliation, while the seaweed soothes and plumps up skin.
Her special luxury soaps also use a goat's milk base, rich in Vitamin A which helps repair damaged skin tissue and has been shown to control acne. Not to mention that it feels silky soft gliding on.
Oh and the perks of being a writer – Amelia kindly gifted me a cinnamon and orange bar to take away to try: and my skin was lefty visibly glowing, not to mention the gorgeous spicy scent that lingered on!
All of Smelleez soaps are made in small batches in Amelia’s kitchen at home. This is essentially her laboratory where all sorts of soapy experiments taking place – with varying results.
“There was one soap which I really liked the smell of, and then I tried to swirl it and it turned into a really horrible colour.” she recalls. “Then I went off it because it started to smell like toilet cleaner - I think it was the pine scent!”
All of the soaps are vegetarian (and many vegan), are free from palm oil and SLS, and contain a wide array of natural, nourishing ingredients and natural exfoliants – from pink Himalayan sea salt to rainbow peppercorn replacing ocean polluting micro plastic beads. It seems like it’s really important to Smelleez to have strong ethical values, I note.
Amelia's soaps contain a wide array of natural, nourishing ingredients and natural exfoliants – from pink Himalayan sea salt to rainbow peppercorn.
“Yes” says Amelia, “I really care about the environment which is why I use natural ingredients. I care about animals and their welfare, too. Using bar soap is also better for the environment because there is no plastic.”
Given that on average, 46,000 pieces of plastic are swirling in each square mile of our oceans, and that every year, at least one million sea birds and 100,000 sharks, turtles, dolphins and whales die from eating plastic, this is an approach that is absolutely essential. It’s great to see that kind of environmental impact awareness from the younger generation.
Indeed, the transparency behind the label and the emphasis on natural ingredients has interestingly led Smelleez to branch into creating soap for a very specific demographic too – dogs!
Amelia’s dog shampoo soap bars have proved a particular hit with dog owners, who often struggle to find shampoos without skin-drying, chemical laden ingredients.
Local charity Dog Friendly Perthshire were full of praise for Amelia, telling me: “We adore Amelia, she really is such a lovely girl and has a huge amount of drive and passion for what she does, and that definitely shows with the soap she makes.
“She puts so much thought into the soap by researching the ingredients to make sure it’s all natural and safe for dogs. We really believe she will go far in her business – and life! - and we support her all the way.”
Dog Friendly Perthshire aren’t the only local charity Amelia has been involved with – the Perth & Kinross Foodbank were delighted to recently receive a huge delivery of Smelleez soaps, delivered by Amelia herself. “It was hard to cart all the soap up there!”, she laughs. “I wanted to raise awareness that foodbanks don’t just take baked beans and cereals, they also take kitchen roll, toilet roll, and soap.”
As our chat lulled to an end, Amelia had some words of wisdom for other young entrepreneurs to be. “You can like painting, but people may not be interested in painting- they may be interested in oatcakes.
“You have to think about what people need.”
Well, one thing is for sure: in Perthshire, our need for creativity, entrepreneurial spirit and passion is well and truly filled by people like Amelia. And thank goodness for that, because in Amelia’s own words:
“When you buy from me, you’re not helping a CEO buy a third holiday home. You’re supporting a little girl fund a serious LEGO habit!”
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