These days when people launch a new business they often think about the short term gains, the quick wins and the possibility of being an overnight success. Few companies do what Astonish have done, a brand that launched back in the 1970’s and is now a household name. A brand that could inspire any business owner, whether they’re just starting out or they’ve been trading for many years. There are few people that don’t know the Astonish brand but hardly anyone knows the story behind it.
With people like Mrs Hinch going viral for her house cleaning hacks and the rise in people only wanting to use ethical and sustainable cleaning products, Astonish continue to be the market leader they always have been. Ahead of the curve, the story behind the brand is nothing short of inspiring. So, grab a cuppa and dive right in as we introduce you to Nick Moss, nephew of the founder…
Tell us about the journey that lead your Uncle Alan Moss to launch the Astonish brand…
The Astonish Cleaning products journey started in Leeds in the the late 1970s. My Uncle Alan started selling a safe to touch, abrasive cleaning paste in a little metal tin which was used for cleaning pots, pans, ovens, glassware, basically anything that had tough marks the regular cleaning products couldn’t remove. He took the product around the country to trade fairs, department stores and agricultural shows and the paste was an instant success! The formula was a biodegradable, non toxic one that had no animal derived ingredients in it, which at that time was quite rare.
Starting in Leeds in the 1970s, what did Astonish do from here to become a household name?
After the success of the trade show demonstrations, Alan took the product to America and featured it on QVC and a programme called “Amazing Discoveries” which demonstrated the product to a massive audience increasing the demand of the miracle paste! He returned to the UK and featured the Astonish paste on info commercials plus sold the product in Kleeneze catalogue delivered to the majority of households across the uk. As the business began to grow, so did the product range which included handwashes, cleaning sprays and cream cleaners. All the products were made in Leeds and free from any animal derived ingredients. Alan also joined and associated the products with the BUAV (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection) who have now changed their name to Cruelty Free International. A number of other brands were testing on animals, and still do, but Astonish has never been tested on animals. Alan created an ethical brand that began to expand outside the uk in the mid 1980s. Astonish is sold in over 40 countries across the globe from Outer Mongolia to the USA! Another factor of Astonish becoming a household name is thanks to the expertise and entrepreneurial skills of Alan’s son Howard who is now the MD of Astonish! His insight to expand the business through new factory machinery and working with retailers from the discount Arena catapulted Astonish to new heights in business. Howard also took a risk by relocating to a bigger factory in 2009 which allowed the business to grow even more with the capacity for bigger orders.
What has been the biggest hurdle you have had to overcome since joining the business?
The biggest hurdle has to be expanding the business and moving into a new factory. With so much competition in the cleaning product arena and brands fighting for shelf space, you have to be top of your game as customers demand the best! Retailers will only want to stock a product that they know their customers will purchase again. This is why our in house lab spends over 6 months developing a product and making sure it equals or out performs the brand leader!
Looking back, is there anything you would do different?
That’s an interesting question! As the saying goes, we learn from our mistakes! Although as a company which is always growing and moving forward, we don’t regret anything, we just learn from it. There maybe products we have made but sadly they didn’t work. We made refills in the 1980s in the form of a tablet you mixed with water but it didn’t take off. You could say we were ahead of our time! We are constantly working on our sustainability.
Tell us more about what inspires you…
Kindness and compassion inspires me! The world can be a cruel place in so many ways but show me a person who has a good soul, can see every person as an equal, campaigns for the rights of all, an animal lover..that inspires me!
If you to describe your brand in three words, what would they be?
Ethical Eco Cleaners
Are Astonish products safe?
Yes! All Astonish products are designed to be safe and reliable.
Unyielding in our pursuit for sustainable production, we offer various collections of eco- friendly cleaning products, personal care and more. We do our best to avoid including harmful chemicals when we can, especially those of a synthetic nature that can be harmful to the skin and nature.
We’re constantly evolving and looking to obtain innovative alternatives that minimise waste. We have one planet and we want to keep it clean!
Our products are not toxic or flammable. They are all cruelty free and vegan.
Are your ethical accreditations official or is a stock logo?
Good question! A lot of brands create their own vegan and cruelty free logos but not Astonish. We are officially certified by the vegan society, Cruelty Free international and the Vegetarian society! Not only have we had an independent audit on our formulas but we are supporting organisations who campaign against animal testing.
How do you want people to feel when they use your products?
Cleaning has a feel good factor! The thought of cleaning may not be exciting but once you pick up your Astonish products you will be reassured that they will do the job and also give you a sense of satisfaction and achievement! Cleaning helps you escape your anxiety. I know from experience that listening to music and cleaning my home makes me feel great! Our products contain some great fragrances too so your senses will be stimulated as well as your mind.
Talk us through an average day in your life…
My day starts with me walking the dog in the local countryside. I love this time as it helps me wake up and I feel great seeing my Old English Sheepdog running as I know she is in her happy place too! I’ll then drive over to the factory and answer all the messages from customers via email and social. We have an active Instagram account with customers sharing their Astonish Cleans which are fantastic!
I’ll then take a trip round the factory, taking photos and videos to use for our social content. Our followers love seeing the factory in action, it’s quite calming to watch. You can catch some clips on our Instagram highlights! @astonishcleaners
How much has social media played a role in the success of the brand?
Social Media has played a vital part in connecting to our customers! Before the internet we would receive hand written letters from customers, sharing their experiences with Astonish. Now we have instant messages, testimonials and product demonstrations! It’s such an important marketing tool now and we are so grateful for it!
Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?
I’d love to visit Iceland (not the store! I’ve been there as we have Astonish in there) Iceland the country, and Greenland always seemed interesting!
What is your go-to quote when lacking motivation?
Wow! That’s another good question. I always focus on the positive! Life is a constant battle isn’t it… a hurdle always pops up. You just have to either jump over or crawl under it… but keep moving forward. Life is fleeting so live it to the full! Everyday really is a blessing!
What is your proudest moment with Astonish?
My proudest moment has to be raising £100,000 for the NHS charities during lockdown. It all started from a lockdown activity on our instagram stories. We asked our followers to create a design on their bottles… the theme being the heroes of the NHS. Which resulted in us manufacturing the limited edition bottles and all the profits going to the NHS.
What’s next for you and the brand?
We are currently building a new factory not far from our current one so that will be a big challenge for us as there is so many factors involved. ( factors for a factory! ) We have just created a new collection of disinfectants which are all cruelty free, vegan and contain essential oils! They should be hitting the shelves now. We have also created some refills for the sprays which will help save money for a lot of customers and reduce their plastic consumption. We are constantly working on ways to improve our carbon footprint which includes new products made from paper packaging and 100% recycled plastic.
Where can people find out more?
Please visit astonish.co.uk to find out more about Astonish cleaning products and also join our social channels! @astonishcleaners
You will find Astonish in Asda, Morrisons, Wilko, The Range, Poundland, Dunelm, Home bargains, B&M and online via Amazon.