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Perhaps it’s why, after 12 years of experience in Lush manufacturing, Beryl enjoys training new staff, and remembering her early days with the company: She explains, “When you’ve been here a while, you get into such a routine that you can be looking around the room while rolling and moulding. But when you’re new, sometimes your brain and hands don’t work together. Seeing the faces of the Christmas staff when they get it is great! Then they are more enthusiastic. We’ve had some lovely people this year: a really diverse bunch.”
When she’s not training, Beryl can be found in the lab of an inventor talking about how a product that could have taken eight hours to make can be produced on a grand scale by hand. It’s no easy feat, but Beryl likes a challenge: “There are no problems, there are only solutions,” she says. “I get really excited when I get asked to go to the lab. First things first - you look at a product, ask questions and then you have to work out how you will make thousands of them. That’s the bit I like the best. The inventors are so lovely to work with, they will come down to take a look at how things are going, and sometimes tell us what we’ve done looks better than theirs. It’s like - kerching! You get a buzz”.
Christmas exclusive Puddy Holly is an example of where Beryl had to put her problem-solving hat on: “A mould was created with a holly leaf embedded in it, but it was really fiddly and time-consuming. I had a chat with Jackie [Beryl’s long-time colleague and partner in crime] about it, and we decided it would be much better with cutters. Now it looks lovely”, she declares.
Working in the company for such a long time, friendships and familiarity have evolved in bounds for Beryl, who thrives on making people laugh, while working hard: “If you’re going to do a job, do it properly, take pride in what you do. I get told off now and again though because I might start dancing around the room”, she says laughing. “I do tend to be a bit of a mother hen - or a grandmother hen now. A lot of the kids that come in now are only the age of my granddaughter. The people are what make Lush what it is. Yes, the products are paramount, but the people that are making them are the more important ones. If you can make someone happy, I say go for it.”
Jackie helps keep Beryl giggling. The pair met when Beryl went to help out in the Gifts Department and the pair have bounced off one another ever since. “I was absolutely useless” Beryl admits (and Jackie agrees). When it comes to their working and personal relationship, there is never a dull moment when they’re together: “We just fit,” Beryl says. “We really enjoy working together because we can really work on solutions. She’s a true friend too. Now we don’t work on the same shifts and can’t take our breaks together, we always ensure we do have a little catch-up. If we come to work and are feeling miserable, we can have a good old chinwag and get it all out and put the world to rights. I’ll be prime minister. Jackie will be the chancellor.”
With this, Beryl contemplates the future: “Oh, ageing disgracefully is high on the agenda! I will have to slow down soon, it’s hard work, but I would miss this place so much. With a bit of luck, they may carry me out in my coffin,” she laughs.
So what’s the secret to making it in manufacturing? Beryl has been successfully supporting other staff and taking pride in her role as well as her company: “You’re accepted for what you are. I could have purple hair and piercings all over my face, everybody is so different, but this company doesn’t judge people”, she says. “I think it’s brilliant. Everybody should be able to do anything they want to in this world.”
For the video interview with Beryl, click here.