MY COUNTRY BUSINESS
Artisan perfumers, Wendy and Chris de Verteuil
Discover how artisan perfumers Wendy and Chris de Verteuil make their heavenly scents
Purveyors of uncommon objects and needful paraphernalia’ is the intriguing promise on Priddy Essentials’ website. The Priddy Essentials shop, in an elegant Georgian building on the high street of the market town of Uppingham, is a treasure trove of handcrafted merchandise. It’s filled with the work of local artisans, but pride of place goes to Priddy Essentials’ beautifully packaged perfumes and products, which are displayed on apothecary-style shelves.
Founded by husband and wife team Wendy and Chris de Verteuil, Priddy Essentials is a hive of activity, but especially in the lead up to Christmas, its busiest time.
Wendy and Chris met at Winchester School of Art where Chris studied woven constructed textiles and Wendy studied printed textiles. They moved to Uppingham from London in 1990 and had their four children, Hugo, Gus, Tilly and Esmée, all now grown up. ‘We love the open space, the fresh air and light of Rutland. It’s a gentle way of life and a lower level of stress,’ says Wendy.
When a shop came up for sale on the high street, they bought it and Wendy started Deliverance County, selling her hand-painted pottery. ‘By 2000 a large quantity of bowls had built up and we decided to add candles to them to give an added value to the product. We learnt how to fragrance candles through much experimentation and started selling them and the business went from strength to strength.’
This led to commissions from the fragrance industry and, through a few specialist courses, Chris learnt the core skills of how to blend fragrances. ‘It wasn’t a specific decision but it happened organically,’ he says.
Wendy and Chris sold their shop and then bought the larger listed Georgian building. Chris gave up working in consultancy and the couple decided to start their own fragrance-based business, rooted in the design principles from their textile backgrounds. They opened Priddy Essentials in 2011.
The name came about through a variety of factors. ‘We were using essential oils and I had an aunt nicknamed Priddy,’ says Wendy. ‘We were into recycling and upcycling, and my aunt used to make do and mend.’
Wendy and Chris were keen to create a brand with a difference. ‘Our main aim is a
What we love most... ‘Finally being able to do just what we want and when we want. working to our own brief, and with Fascinating people’
pared-down approach to what is perceived as a luxury item,’ says Chris. ‘We’re challenging the deluxe image in a way; we didn’t want something overly fussy. We have created blends referencing the more romantic era of the Thirties and Forties, while modern fragrances have taken a different turn.
‘Unitexte was our first collection using woody and herbal notes, as a nod to the past and the noble fragrance houses of Jermyn Street. Lavender, bergamot, sandalwood and patchouli are softened with surprising accords of liquorice and mint,’ he says.
The Priddy Essentials’ ranges are designed to appeal to both men and women. ‘We are trying not to define any fragrances. Inspired by traditional planting in English cottage gardens, the Arborescent collection was introduced in 2012 as a floral complement to Unitexte.’
Other collections include Boro, a collage of citrus-based fragrances with its origins in the Far East. The relaxed, easy and breezy Otvungen range came about after a family holiday in Scandinavia, while Ex Libris is a library of scent designed for en-suite and guest bathrooms. Each range comprises a spray, body lotion, hand cream, soap, handwashes, shower gel and bath essence.
Developing each fragrance can take up to eight months. Wendy and Chris work with fragrance houses in the UK. ‘We do a sketch and a mock-up blend from a variety of ingredients including essential oils and then work with a fragrance house to interpret the concept commercially,’ says Chris.
The finished products are made by hand using paraben-free bases in the Priddy Essentials workshop. Wendy and Chris design the packaging themselves. ‘We prefer paredback designs and use recycled boxes for a craft feel. Everything is done by hand. We’re making something lovely and it takes a lot of effort to put together,’ says Chris.
Priddy Essentials went on to exhibit at trade fairs so its products could reach a wider market. ‘We knew we had to look outside Uppingham,’ says Chris. ‘We became known by other retailers who wanted to sell our products. We like being stocked by niche independents.’ Stockists now include Petersham Nurseries, Snape Maltings and Burford Garden Company, as well as The Hambledon in Winchester. Wendy and Chris now employ a team of six.
As well as their own products, the de Verteuils sell work made by local artisans. ‘There are a lot of talented people in our area who are not always given a platform,’ says Wendy. ‘We support local artisans and artists. The shop has a constantly reimagined selection of curated products. Perfect for Christmas shoppers!’
PRIDDY ESSENTIALS, 25 HIGH ST EAST, UPPINGHAM, OAKHAM LE15 9PY, 01572 821890, PRIDDYESSENTIALS.COM.
Wendy with her Dachshund Edie in the packing area called The Packadamy.