Skincare entrepreneur Joy Isaacs, pictured with baby Jax, tells her moving story
Having a premature and seriously ill baby is worrying at the best of times, but doing so at the start of a pandemic presents a whole new set of issues. Beauty brand founder Joy Isaacs' fourth son Jax was born six weeks early, just before the UK went into lockdown, weighing only 1.5kg after suffering from restricted growth in the womb.
"I felt extremely anxious, especially when there were unanswered questions as to why my baby was not growing," recalls Joy. "Lockdown hit when we were still in hospital. Initially, I was relieved to be able to stay with him but then it became a double-edged sword trying to keep myself safe from the virus and worrying if I did catch it would I be separated from him?"
When he arrived in the world, he was diagnosed with a rare chromosome disorder which causes a type of neonatal diabetes. With dangerously high blood sugar, little Jax was very dehydrated. Joy and her husband were told to prepare for the worst.
At the time, the NHS was not routinely using PPE and this added to Joy's concern, knowing the protection it could afford her and Jax, yet needing to accept their help even without PPE in place. Once lockdown was in place, PPE did become routine but visitors weren't allowed in. "Those were very difficult weeks stuck on the ward without much privacy and using the canteen and vending machines for food. My husband could drop essentials off at the front door of the hospital for me but he couldn't come in.
She couldn't see her other children either, three boys aged 11,16 and 17. "I missed one of my boys’ birthdays which was very difficult and sad and it was hard to field their questions around when I would be home as I really had no idea when Jax would be well enough for discharge."
"I remember one particular week in lockdown which was extremely difficult as Jax's condition wasn’t improving and after many tests the doctors said that they were at a dead-end," Joy says. "I felt helpless like there was no end in sight and nothing to hold on to. I had to stay grateful that I could be with him as there were other babies on the ward separated from their parents due to circumstances around Covid and the lockdown."
Joy and Jax lived in hospital for almost three months witnessing first-hand the physical and emotional toll the pandemic was taking on frontline staff wearing PPE. "Everyone we met was so caring and professional and without them, Jax would not be here today. There was one particular ward sister who even though she was drowning in the restructuring all the hospitals were going through to accommodate Covid19, she championed Jax’s case with tenacity and helped to get him into a strong position that allowed us to be discharged."
Jax is now home with his three brothers and is thriving. "We do hospital appointments via video conference and they are so pleased with his progress," says Joy.
While in hospital, Joy noticed to what extent the NHS staff's hands were suffering from the constant washing and sanitizing. As the founder of Argentum Apothecary a skincare brand with a powerful healing ingredient, she wanted to give back.
She set about gifting £1million worth of the brand's hero product La Potion Infinie , a day and night cream formulated with antioxidant colloidal silver which speeds up tissue regeneration.
"We had the stocks and the NHS desperately needed the skincare and during such a difficult time it made me and my team so happy to spoil them," she says."We reached out to matrons and ward sisters for them to allocate the skincare among the staff. We started with the incredible staff at the two hospitals Jax stayed in we reached out to the major Covid hospitals, all over the UK. "
Before setting up her company, Joy worked in marketing for a Savile Row tailor. Her move into skincare came from a personal epiphany in 2010 following a life-changing experience with the healing powers of silver. She'd had major abdominal surgery and developed a dangerous infection, that doctors treated with high-grade colloidal silver dressings. Joy was inspired to develop a skincare line using silver hydrosol, the highest-grade colloidal silver.
So far they have delivered cream in London to St Mary’s Hospital and Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, University College London Hospitals (UCLH) and to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. "We found someone doing handstands to raise money to buy creams for his local hospital, so we contacted him and made that happen. It’s amazing how things unfold with six degrees of separation. We have now gone a third over our budgeted allocation, as it has been too hard to say no to something that has given me and the Argentum team so much joy to do."
MORE GLOSS: Silver skincare is here to treat your acne and sensitivity