ANTONIA AND JONNY PHILIP
Developed by Antonia, a paediatric nurse and her husband Jonny, the Nursem range was designed to help combat the effects of relentless hand-washing. The range has been formulated with 9 active ingredients to soothe red, sore and dry/chapped hands - without leaving a greasy feeling.
Together, they're on a mission - to make sure that every nurse and midwife in the country gets Nursem for free and at the same time to help all other hard working hands in need. We chatted to Antonia to hear more about her journey.
Tell us about your brand and how you started?
When I qualified as a paediatric nurse 11 years ago, I soon found that the skin on my hands started to break down and become very dry, cracked and occasionally bleed. I saw my colleges suffer too, but there was no way of getting around it - as a nurse you have to wash your hands all the time to keep yourself and your patients free of infection.
Once I was off for more than a week because my hands were so bad that I wasn’t allowed to work. My husband Jonny was very shocked. It was quite embarrassing to have such overly dry and damaged hands!
Desperate for a remedy, I started researching the problem - and found out how common it was. NHS nurses and midwives wash their hands an average of 55 times a day. One survey with the Nursing Times showed that 87% of nurses suffer from some form of contact dermatitis or dry skin. Here was my lightbulb moment - not only would I source and invent an effective hand cream for myself, but I’d do it for all those NHS workers whose jobs meant their hands were permanently - and inevitably - dry and chapped.
I began looking for products with as many natural ingredients as possible. Too many were petroleum-based, or contained additives such as silicone or mineral oils. I needed something super-absorbent, non-greasy, and small enough to slip into a nurse’s pocket. Once I’d found a formula using plant-derived active ingredients, and a lab to make it in, we tried it out on 3,000 nurses!
We also tested it on other people - mums, gardeners, hairdressers - with a severely dry and irritated skin condition. We completed rigorous clinical skin safety tests to make sure the formulas were suitable for sensitive skin, hospital-compatible and didn’t undermine hand washing or infection control measures. Most important of all, for every product sold, we promise to provide a month’s worth of free Nursem to an NHS nurse, midwife or other healthcare professional.
I’d used Manuka honey in dressings so I knew it was extremely good for healing and soothing. Today in our Nursem product range we use NPA +15 rated Manuka Honey, Hyaluronic Acid, Avocado and Shea butters and Colloidal Oatmeal - to name just a few!
What's your biggest challenge as a brand?
There are so many products out there claiming to be natural or effective despite containing so many suspicious ingredients. It's a problem with the industry as a whole - but makes it difficult for little brands like Nursem to be taken seriously when you can’t pour money into marketing.
Tell us your favourite quote.
"You get out what you put in."
What's your proudest moment as a business?
We very recently reached 10,000 nurses and midwives helped as part of the Nursem Promise. That was a huge moment for us, as it’s something we’ve been working towards for the last few years.
Who is your hero?
I work with a lot of unsung hero’s - particularly paediatric surgeons! These people are so humble, save so many lives and yet you never hear about them. They also spend some of their annual holiday doing surgical work in developing countries and go above and beyond to look after patients and their families. That’s a hero.
What is your little find?
Besides Nursem obviously - I love the Petit Collage sticker books you stock. Having two little ones means anything to keep their attention for a while is worth its weight in gold!
What are your three favourite shops?
Oliver Bonas, Anthropology and Ikea.
What is the most stressful part of your day?
Getting out of the house in a morning. Juggling a 2 and a half year old & 13 week old.
What time does your day start?
06:30am - my two year old demanding to “go down steps Mummy” for his breakfast.