Published on 11 June 2019
After taking up a placement opportunity with Newcastle based-Bria Organics in her final year, Paige Fearn has impressed so much with her scientific knowledge and ability to learn on-the-job business skills that she’s been offered a full-time position once she finishes her course.
The 24-year-old has developed her knowledge of the cosmetics industry over the course of her degree, introduced at the University of Sunderland in 2016 and the first of its kind to be created in the UK. The course focuses on how the skin and body works, to produce innovative and improved products that respond to environmental and lifestyle changes for a growingindustry that generates billions of pounds a year.
“I’m delighted to have secured a job with Bria while still finishing my degree, it’s great to combine all the practical experience with the theory,” says Paige, who will be the first in her family to graduate from university.
Having struggled to decide on a suitable path after leaving school, Paige, from Tynemouth, explained: “I loved science as well as having an interest in skincare and make-up, as someone who has suffered sensitive skin all my life, so combining the two at Sunderland was the perfect fit for me. I had originally started studying Bio-Medical Science, but realised it wasn’t for me and once I saw the new Cosmetic Science BSc degree I immediately applied and haven’t looked back.”
“It was challenging in the first year, but all worth it. In my final year I secured the placement at Bria to get that practical experience and they asked me to come back, which worked out so well.”
Paige is now involved in all aspects of the business at Bria, which supplies balms and creams globally, made from natural and organic ingredients, to treat various skin conditions, from eczema to psoriasis.
Paige says: “I have literally been involved in everything from taking orders over the phone, and packaging, to making balms and creams that we sell globally.
“I was helping to make the recipes from day one and I’m in the process of formulating an organic shampoo. I think it’s really helped the company having someone from a scientific background on site, offering the knowledge I have learned during my University course.”
Bria Organics began in 2008 as a mother’s labour of love to find a completely natural and steroid-free treatment for her baby son’s eczema. After completing a course in natural skincare Lee Heads devised some recipes of her own and tried them out on her son Archie and other babies, children and adults with eczema. Following positive results Bria Organics was created.
Lee, owner of Bria Organics, who also studied a PR degree at Sunderland, said: “We are delighted with the impact Paige has made on our business during her placement. She has become involved in all aspects of Bria Organics and has continued to impress with her skills and knowledge throughout her time with us.
“We are very keen to continue the relationship with the University of Sunderland through placement opportunities for students on the Cosmetic Science programme. It’s fantastic to have this degree local to us as the first of its kind to be created in the UK. Also employing someone in-house was far more beneficial to the business and helps us continue to develop products in keeping with our unique principles.”
Programme Leader for BSc and MSc Cosmetic Science, Kalliopi Dodou, who organised Paige’s placement with Bria, said: "Our Cosmetic Science programme is designed to equip students with the skills and knowledge for a successful and innovative career in the cosmetic, fragrance and personal care industry.
"Placements provide the opportunity to work in the cosmetic industry during the degree, and they are highly encouraged by our industry collaborators.
“Paige has certainly made the most of her placement opportunity at Bria she’s been a fantastic student, keen to learn and do well.
“I'm pleased to see that the knowledge and skills taught in our BSc Cosmetic Science are applicable in the real world and our students are employable and in demand!”
Paige added: “I would 100 per cent recommend Sunderland to anyone thinking about university. The facilities are first class and the academics are very supportive. Kalliopi has been incredibly helpful.
“Make sure you definitely sign up for a placement, especially in the cosmetics industry, as you need to leave with experience that helps you stand out when applying for jobs.
“I would also recommend the Cosmetic Science course as there are so many doors it can open – from quality control to manufacturing, product development to marketing, there’s just so many different things that you can do with it.”