New vegan soap and skincare business launches in Bedford’s Old Arcade

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Shellie Hopkinson in her new shop in Bedford's Old Arcade

A businesswoman who worked on the procurement of the Covid vaccine has turned her back on the corporate world and opened a shop in Bedford’s Old Arcade, selling handmade, vegan soap and skincare products.

Shellie Hopkinson was a global procurement manager for a biomedical science company during the development of the Covid vaccine.

“My job always entailed long hours, working away and missing out on family life and during the pandemic was no exception, in fact, it was even worse,” said Shellie.

“I was working long hours and all the way through Christmas with very little time off. Work stresses came to a head when her six-year-old daughter said, “Mummy, I miss you.”

Shellie’s life-long hobby has been soap-making and, craving, a better work-life balance for her and her family, she decided to turn her passion into a full-time job.

“This year I started getting my creations tested for sale and I began selling from a stall on Leighton Buzzard market.

“On that cold spring day I wasn’t quite sure what was ahead or how people would react to the soap I make from my kitchen table but the response was amazing.”

The soap Shellie makes is fully vegan and includes no soy, palm oil, or plastic packaging.

“I was really surprised with how well the product was received locally, it seems more and more people are concerned about what ingredients are in the products they use and also where they are made, this gave my business a great boost and from then it has gone from strength to strength.”

In March 2021, Shellie entered the Free From Skincare Awards and made it all the way through to the national finals.

“The next logical step was to open a shop,” said Shellie. “I was looking for small premises, somewhere with a good business community.

“During my research, I discovered there is a good vegan community in Bedford, then one day I saw a lovely little shop advertised in the Old Arcade and I knew we’d fit in there.

“Bedford ticked all the boxes.”

Bathroomatic opened its doors in the Old Arcade on 3 July and Shellie’s new business has been warmly welcomed by her neighbouring shopkeepers and business owners.

The shop, which is open Wednesday to Saturday, sells hand-made soap, bath bombs, and hugely popular body butter. She stocks other ethical brands and offers refills of Faith in Nature products too.

It feels like Bedford’s very own ‘mini Lush’, with a welcoming aroma and lovingly-created products. To add to the unique experience, you’re likely to find Shellie mixing up her latest product ‘live’ in store too.

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