Step inside this divine Highgate Hill store of natural goodness and you’ll discover it’s been made with an incredible amount of passion and dedication.
In fact, you don’t even need to get all the way in to realise this. You only need to look at the Handmade Naturals handpainted shop sign on the roof to know this business has been built with love. Handmade Naturals manufactures a complete range of non-toxic skin, hair and body care products which started in owner Corinne Sparks’ kitchen 25 years ago. “It quickly got out of control though, so I decided to open up a little showroom, which was about a quarter of the size of the shop as it is now,” she explains. Corinne planned to only be open a few days a week but quickly realised this wasn’t going to happen and she needed to expand. “After six months I took on the shop next door and two years after that I took on the next shop too,” she adds.
Corinne manufactures every Handmade Naturals product in store herself. “It’s the only way I can positively look at a customer and say I know exactly what’s in that product as well as being able to guarantee it’s 100 per cent natural,” she says. Her shop also sells other brands but they’re all heavily screened by her first. Currently Corinne has around 800 products on offer both in store and online, but she doesn’t run the show alone. “I normally have about six staff, plus my husband Ray, who helps me with the books,” says Corinne. Corinne beams with pride at being part of the South Brisbane community. “Although I live in Moorooka, I spend so much time in West End and Highgate Hill and I love it, especially the alternativeness of it here as I knew customers would understand where I was coming from when I first opened up my shop.”
Corinne was drawn to the charm of the building too. “I loved that it was over 100 years old as it’s got a lot of character and a really good vibe about it.” Corinne’s spirit isn’t dampened by her huge workload as she doesn’t see it as work. “It’s never felt like a job to me,” she says. “I love people and I do it because it’s what I believe in.” It isn’t surprising Corinne is often stopped when out and about in the local area. “People do remember me, say hello and tell me about the cream they bought the other day — my kids think when they go out with me I know everybody!” she adds.
Words by Roisin Johnson | Images by Stayc Connolly