Just four weeks ago, Sarah Baker could never have imagined the brand’s new initiative—Jazz Hands, a set of four hand sanitisers produced to a free recipe recommended by the World Health Organization, each combined with one of the SARAH BAKER fragrances.
In a matter of just weeks, the brand has produced and released an entirely new project that is born out of personal response to a pressing global challenge.
Necessity, the Mother of Invention
Sarah Baker, the brand’s founder and creative director explains: “I’ve made this product because I needed it for myself and my family. And we also want to try and contribute in some way in responding to the current situation.
“Like many other people, we had been monitoring unfolding events with concern because they were already impacting on a personal and professional level. We were worried about friends, colleagues and family living in areas that have been particularly severely affected.
“When the World Health Organization (WHO) and other credible health sources started recommending use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers, my husband and I wanted to take whatever sensible measures we could to reduce risk to our family; ourselves and our young son. Like many Londoners, I went around numerous pharmacies and found them out of stock; same with many online retailers.
“My research led me to a recipe for a hand sanitiser recommended by the WHO and I thought, ‘Hey, we can make this. It’s not much different from making perfume.’
“Naturally our take on the WHO hand rub sanitiser recipe was going to contain our fragrances—in a relevant dilution—because almost all hand sanitising products contain fragrance of some form. I had been experimenting with other ways to use our perfumes for some time. Those ideas have all been put on hold by this project. But what that research taught me was that it’s important to get the percentage of fragrance right in a non-perfume format.”
SARAH BAKER launched into a period of intense activity sourcing additional ingredients for the WHO-recommended recipe and appropriate bottles, which wasn’t easy since supplies of these too have been disrupted. After hand-mixing and testing the solutions in the same studio where the perfumes are produced by the same handmade methods, Jazz Hands was set to go. But this was not a straightforward matter of new product development.
Plotting and Ethical Path
Sarah Baker explained: “We wanted to make this product as affordable as possible, but we are also adamant that we want it to contribute in some way to frontline efforts—which is why we are donating £5 of the sales price of every Jazz Hands pack to Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, a charity providing lifesaving medical humanitarian care to people who need it most.
“But the challenge is that when you are a small artist-led brand like we are, where everything has to be made by hand, you don’t have the economy of scale to reduce costs like big companies can. The ingredients for the product, including the fragrance given that it’s massively diluted compared with our extrait perfumes, is actually only small a proportion of what it’s costing us to produce it.
“We’re fully committed to being transparent about this and that’s why we’ve published a breakdown of the cost of producing a Jazz Hands 4 x 50ml pack on the website. Anyone who runs a business will immediately see that this is not a product based on profit.
“We’ve put a link to the WHO recipe on the product page so that anyone with access to the ingredients who wants to make it for themselves can do so. For one thing, we have a limited supply of ingredients. As a small company, our license limits our supply of ethanol and we have no idea whether we will be able to continue to produce it if we run out of stock.”
SARAH BAKER has made the decision to make Jazz Hands only currently available as a 4 x 50ml pack and not to sell individual bottles. It is also only currently available to UK shipping addresses.
Sarah Baker explained these decisions: “As I’ve mentioned, we’re focused on keeping the retail price as low as possible while retaining the charitable contribution. We would have to take on extra people to process a broader variety of product variations and differentiated postage and delivery which would make the costs higher.
“The reason it is only currently available to UK shipping addresses is for the same reason but also that it would be subject to the shipping of dangerous goods under a specific licence that is time-consuming to administer and pretty costly, again requiring more labour.
“This started as a personal response to shortages of something that I need for my family so, a ‘family pack’ style product seemed fitting. We're encouraging people to share them or split costs with friends or flatmates if they feel they don't need all four bottles in the pack.
“Rough calculations for using this product according to WHO and other credible health agencies’ current recommendations is that this pack could last a group of three to four people about a month. Please understand that we are limiting orders to a maximum of two packs per customer. We'd like to avoid panic buyers. However, as things are changing on a day-to-day basis, we may amend this policy.”
So why is it called Jazz Hands? Sarah Baker explains: “As a mother with a young son, I wanted to call it something easy to remember that would have positive associations for him when using it. We absolutely want to avoid scaremongering or a misleading ‘scientific’ name that might imply claims that we can’t—that nobody can—make about this product or hand sanitisers in general. We want to keep it simple, optimistic and family-friendly.”
Full details of the Jazz Hands pack and its ingredients are available on the website.
In summing up the launch of the Jazz Hands initiative, Sarah Baker had this to say: “We’re a small brand that wanted to do something proactive but even our practical ability to produce another batch of this product is limited.
“We actively encourage DIY with the official WHO recipe (vodka and gin don't work), or other small brands in a similar position to our own to produce it if they have the alcohol supply. We're open to collaborations that could enable us to make the product more widely available. But, the one thing that we ask—a proviso in the case of any collaboration—would be that price is kept as low as possible and that there is also a transparent CSR giving element to a relevant charity.”