The Team

A multinational diverse team

Diversity in our team members, seen and unseen, has brought about the growth of Keracol. Our team has roots in Canada, England, France, Germany, Morocco, Portugal, Romania, and Slovenia, with additional research experience overseas including the USA, Japan and Finland. Although we may be multilingual, our passion for science and sustainability bring us together. 

The Founders

Our team was created through a partnership between two leading academics, who are now experts in their respective fields. Working in sustainability before it became fashionable, our founders Richard and Chris combined their individual chemistry expertise and knowledge gained from years of research to harness safe and sustainable colourants found in nature.


Almost all the colourants used today in the fashion and hair dye are derived from petrochemicals with negative impact on our environment; polluting water streams and affecting the health of textile workers and their neighbours due to harsh dyeing conditions. 


This led the founders towards their first partnership working with the natural colourants known as anthocyanins. These colourants have long been misinterpreted, underestimated and undervalued, even though they provide the most beautiful pink, red, purple and blues in Nature. Through this work, we now have a range of products which utilise anthocyanins as key natural, functional and sustainable ingredients.

Chris Rayner

Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Leeds Director and Co-Founder of Keracol Ltd and Craft Cosmetics

Richard Blackburn

Professor of Sustainable Materials at the University of Leeds Director and Co-Founder of Keracol Ltd and Craft Cosmetics

Meryem Benohoud

Technical Director

Meryem has a background in organic chemistry with a BSc and MSc in chemistry from The University Paris-Saclay (France) and a PhD in synthetic organic chemistry at the Institute of Natural Products (ICSN-CNRS France). She gained further research experience in various areas of natural products, small molecules, and green and sustainable chemistry during her post-doctoral projects carried out in Finland at The University of Jyvaskyla with Prof. Pihko and in Japan at Tokyo University of Science with Prof. Hayashi.  

Meryem joined Keracol in 2013 and is now Technical Director. She has keen interest in circularity and sustainability and making better use of resources is her driving force.

Alenka Tidder

Coloration Specialist

Alenka came to study for her PhD at the University of Leeds in 2009. Her research focused on the coloration of genetically modified cotton, looking to reduce the environmental impact of the dyeing process. She has been working with Keracol since 2013 and has a passion for sustainability.

Alenka’s areas of expertise include textile coloration, dyeing, hair dyes, natural products and cosmetics.

When not in the lab she’s upcycling her old clothes into colourful new ones.

Kristina Hetherington

Senior Scientist

Kristina obtained her PhD from the University of Leeds in medicinal chemistry research, on clinically relevant protein-protein interactions. Her research helped hone her skills in synthesis, assays and use of advanced analytical techniques (HPLC, LC-MS and NMR). The combination of scientific skills with her personal passion for sustainable solutions in chemistry aligned with those championed at Keracol. She enjoys the diverse nature of projects at Keracol and when she isn’t in the lab analysing plant extracts or chemical behaviour of dyes, she can be found climbing up walls in the nearest bouldering gym.

Bethany Tack

Junior Scientist

Bethany joined the team as a Junior Scientist after completion of her master’s degree in chemistry at the University of Leeds. She has a keen interest in developing sustainable personal care and beauty products, and harvesting the natural, valuable ingredients from plant waste. When not in the lab, she can be found in the studio learning the latest K-pop dances with her dance team.

Sophia Boyadjieva-Newbould

Senior Scientist

Sophia joined the team at Keracol after working as a research and development chemist, focused on formulating and testing sustainable products for home and personal care. Prior to this, she worked as a postdoctoral research assistant at the University of Glasgow, where she completed her PhD in inorganic chemistry for biomedical applications. During her time in university, she focused on progressing her skills in synthesis, experimental development, and use and application of advanced analytical methods. Her industrial and academic experiences have given her the perfect tools to work on sustainable solutions in chemistry, which she has a real passion for. When not in the lab, she is working on her next crochet project with hook and yarn in hand.

Technical Team

Our technical team, all with a different scientific background and experience, are accustomed to working on multiple, fast paced projects. Our skill-set is unique due to our diversity but our commitment to communication and transparency have ensured a cohesive work environment and successful delivery of project targets.


Transparency is very important to us and has been incorporated all the way through to our own brand Dr Craft. We work along side other skincare entrepreneurs and hope to impact the industry to promote transparency with terminology and tackle green-washing.