ARTICLE FROM: Farmers Weekly
DATE: 1 November 2003

The right gift for a special person or occasion can be hard to find but two farmers' wives have got it pac-ked. Tessa Gates found out more

Like many a good idea, the one behind pac-gifts, occurred over a drink. It came on a miserable February night as two farming couples from Romney March, Kent, discussed in a pub in Rye.

"Our husbands were despondent, Val was fed up with her jobs and the men asked us what we were going to do," recalls Anne Clifton-Holt, of Haguelands Farm. The women didn't have to scratch for ideas - within months Anne and her friend Valerie Furnival had developed a range of lotions and potions made with the purest essential oils and packed with precise marketing in mind.

"We wanted to have our own products. We spent months in a a lab alongside a consultant aromatherapist as potions were mixed, sniffing coffee granules between testings to get rid of the smells. What I like and what Anne likes is quite different. So it was interesting to see what we agreed on.

RISKY BUSINESS...Cosmetics seems a risky business to try with so many established names on the market but the women have a clever marketing strategy. They target their packs and products to fit specific people, moods or occasions. " We know farming so our Farmer Giles pack, Pigs might Fly, and Just for Ewe, have farming families in mind," explains Anne.

Wedding fairs are now a regular sales venue with Anne and Valerie attending them separately all over the country every weekend. The Tying The Knot pack has six items that include a body spray made from essential oils which clear the mind - useful after the hen night perhaps - and revitalising foot spray, body wash and body lotion and pretty bath confetti and a face flannel. There are sets for the bridesmaid, the groom and even one for people who have helped with the wedding arrangements - it carries the message With love and thanks.

In fact, such is the versatility of the packaging design and the range of products, that the combinations are endless with birthday, teenage and other themes coming on stream. It also offers them the chance to supply tailor-made and corporate packs. "We are writing to Margaret Beckett to tell her we have done what she wanted farmers to do - diversify - so now can we see all the staff at DEFRA using them," says Anne, and she isn't joking.