What did you do before launching A.S Apothecary and where did the idea come from?
I was a Homeopath and Herbalist making products for my patients to deal with various ills. I saw a lot of skin problems and part of that was to do with what people were putting on their skin, so I created products to help - healthy glowing skin is my aim. Then out of the blue, I was asked to supply Content Beauty which was the epicentre of the green beauty movement so I expanded my range. From there I have created a business with quality and plants at its heart - many of which we grow or wild harvest in Harris. We also have around 200 roses growing in Yorkshire which my friend Gerry looks after for me.
Your ingredients are organic, why is this important?
It is not only a question of organic or not but also, how many can we grow ourselves or wild harvest. This approach means that we grow organically, we reduce our carbon footprint dramatically and we can pick at exactly the right time to maximise the therapeutic value of our products. Only really good plants will offer really good results and that matters to us.
What makes your skincare products unique?
I am a distiller which means that in addition to growing our own plants, we distil them to produce aromatic waters and essential oils that go into our products. I've been a plantswoman for 35 years and I'm fascinated by the therapeutics plants can offer. We carefully weave these into each of our products to make them not only feel beautiful on the skin but also incredibly effective. We also understand that different plants need different treatments so we choose the best method for the best effect. Everything is made by hand and in very small batches, so the only ingredients we use are for the benefit of the skin rather than the smooth running of large scale commercial machinery.
"Since changing to Flexi-Hex we have had no breakages of any of our glass bottles and jars."
We know that AS Apothecary is committed to protecting the natural world through sustainable practices – what have been the most significant changes you’ve made this year?
We have done two things that I'm really proud of in 2021. We've erected a 20m x 8m greenhouse so we can grow so much more and we have totally overhauled our packaging for every part of the three businesses we run - A.S Apothecary which is skincare, Wild Eve which is our non-alcoholic drink and Temple which is our bakery and deli. All three now use Flexi-Hex® for all online sales.
What would you say to other people who are considering switching to Flexi-Hex®?
Do it now! Since changing to Flexi-Hex we have had no breakages of any of our glass bottles and jars. We've sent products all over the world without any problem where previously we had to factor in breakages. It is such a relief. Plus, we have had so many comments about how lovely the products look arriving in boxes containing corrugated pods. For us, where plants are so important, the look of the pods is so reminiscent of seeds, it sits really well with the brand.
What does your day-to-day look like?
My days start early because there’s so much to do and I love the silence of early morning. I walk the dogs to the beach as soon as dawn breaks. At about 8am I’ll assess the weather and work out what plant work needs / can be done. By mid-morning I’ll be working on something – it may be consultancy work for a drinks company who want something a little bit different for their serve, a distillation of Sugar Kelp Aromatic Water for the Isle of Harris Distillery with Shona, formulating a new Harris based product for A.S Apothecary with Caroline, working on a serve for Wild Eve using botanicals we picked earlier with Matt and Alexander or if we’ve had a delivery of fruit, I might be dehydrating the peel with Nanan and making a curd from the juice with Kirsty. Every day is collaborative, different and creative.
Social media is an important part of what we do - I think it is the best way of conveying what we’re up to, so each day I’ll spend an hour or two taking or finding photos and working out what I want to say. I also write blog posts for all three companies which takes a surprising amount of time! At 7pm, it's back out with the dogs then an hour to catch up on miscellaneous things that have arisen during the day before cooking supper. 10pm usually finds me on the sofa surrounded by animals slowly winding down before bed.
"We have had so many comments about how lovely the products look arriving in boxes containing corrugated pods."
What inspires you? Any brands you’d like to mention?
I am inspired by other brand owners who are brave enough to do something different – I have a huge amount of time for Tata Harper who grows and makes exquisite skincare with honesty and integrity. Also Weleda who follow biodynamic growing principles. I love storytellers and find Elif Shafak inspiring with her roots so firmly in Sufism and Claudia Roden for the journeys her cook books taken me on. These are my day to day inspirations.
I am utterly in awe of every plant that I use – from the Meadowsweet up here on the Isle of Harris to the violets in Sussex, the orange blossom I pick in Cyprus and the hundreds of roses that we grow, which quite simply feed my body, skin and spirit. The natural world is utterly inspiring.