MY COUN­TRY BUSI­NESS

Ar­ti­san per­fumers, Wendy and Chris de Ver­teuil

Country Homes & Interiors - - CONTENTS -

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.

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