Katharine Hiscock blames it all on her brother.
A few years ago, Ms. Hiscock received a gift from him that would end up marking the start of something big in her life.
“It really started with my brother,” said Ms. Hiscock. “A few years ago, he gave me, for my birthday, distilled water, and left me hanging, and told me to wait for Christmas.”
Ms. Hiscock didn’t know at the time that her brother, Andrew Woolfrey, had just given her the first push down a road that would lead to her taking home a provincial business award.
“At Christmas time, he gave me some lye and soap books,” she said. “At the time, he was making biodiesel for personal use, and the glycerin byproduct that comes from that can be used in making soap.
“So, we talked about it, and he researched a bit, and got me everything I needed to start.”
But then something happened that put some of her plans on hold.
“I had a baby, and that took up some time,” said Ms. Hiscock. “In the meantime, two of my brother’s friends took a couple of my recipes and tried some things, and they actually made soap from the glycerin.
“They used to go to the farmers’ market in Corner Brook, and they did quite well there with soap in plastic wrap, and we had a few other things, such as lip balm, that sort of thing, and then we came together and I did a craft fair her in Gander.
“A local retailer really liked our products, and we had a meeting with that person, and we talked about getting our packaging done properly, and that’s really when it all started.”
Before long, the company, named Beautiful Rock because the products contain as many natural Newfoundland-found materials as possible, Ms. Hiscock explained, began producing a line of soaps, body lotions and other skin care items. They also began producing a line of baby products called L’il Henry, named after Ms. Hiscock’s son.
Two years ago, after several craft fairs and some helpful advice, Beautiful Rock was born. Owned and operated by Ms. Hiscock along with her partners Michael Gale and Jason Abbott, the company has grown into a successful business that is primarily home-based, although the products can be found at a retail outlet in Gander and at area craft shows and markets.
Earlier this month, Ms. Hiscock, 32, was named Youth Entrepreneur of the Year by the Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs (NLOWE).
“I couldn’t believe it, really,” she said. “I’m the only one outside of St. John’s and Mount Pearl who received an award, so just to represent Central Newfoundland and Labrador in that way was huge.”
Ms. Hiscock said the award has served as motivation to continue moving forward with the business, as well as proof it’s headed in the right direction.
“It validates things for us,” she said. “It shows we’re doing something right, and that we need to keep going. We’re in my basement every evening ,and we’re putting in all this work, and we know that people are enjoying our products, but it really is motivation to keep going.”
Ms. Hiscock is the third winner of the award in less than a decade to come from the Gander area. In 2004, Angie Dalley of the Gander Massage Therapy Clinic took home the award. Last year, it went to Robyn White of Fresh Faces in Gander.
“The funny thing is we all went to the same high school in Lewisporte,” said Ms. Hiscock. “Robyn is my cousin, and Angie was my brother’s date to his graduation.”
So, what does the future hold for his award-winning entrepreneur?
“The sky’s the limit, really,” she said. “There are so many different things we could do, so many different products. We started with skin care, but it doesn’t mean it has to end there.
“We could go into natural cleaning, we’re very interested in all those sorts of things. We’re even looking at producing a line of juices and teas. It really is about a line of products that is holistic and for your whole body.”