We Get a Sneak Peek Behind the Scenes of the Wonderful St Kitts Herbery
What inspired you to start St. Kitts Herbery? When did you begin?
We started St Kitts Herbery in 2001. St Kitts Herbery started as a lifestyle business, we really were a kitchen table start-up, selling our products from our front room. Our vision was to sell all things herbal and for our first few years, we made cards from pressed flowers, potpourri from dried ingredients, soaps and bath products, scented pillows, herbal bouquets – anything connected with or made from herbs. Our first real break came from collaboration with a local hotel and it led us to our most popular fragrance, Rosemary and Bergamot, which has gone from strength to strength since then and is still our most popular range to date.
What can you tell us about your business? What sets you apart from your corporate contemporaries?
The thing that separates not just our business, but also all indie businesses from the big corporations is that it is completely personal. Everything that we create, from the products to the advertisements to the packaging, is done by us – so we are extremely motivated to get it right! It is a thrill every time we sell something and we value every customer because there is nothing quite like the satisfaction of creating something that people love.
What’s your role in the business? What’s your favourite things about your job & running an indie business?
I am the owner of the business as well as the creative director. I am in charge of product design and manufacture, graphic design, shop design, packaging design –pretty much all design! I relish the opportunity to devise more and more beautiful products, hoping that every concoction will be better than the last. Running an independent business allows a freedom that cannot be found anywhere else – both for myself in the creative aspect and for our staff, who have all developed skills and strengths as we have progressed. Far and away the best part of building your own brand is the ability to change, mould and grow organically in a way that suits me, my staff and the brand itself.
Are there other people in your business? What can you tell us about the rest of the team?
We are a relatively small team, meaning that everyone does a bit of everything! My partner, Paul, is our financial director, dealing with wholesale customers, planning officials, staff wages, accounts – anything and everything that the business needs.
My daughter, Betty, is both our marketing manager and the manager of our second St Kitts Herbery branch in Cardiff. Like all our children, she has tried her hand at every aspect of the business until finding the one that suited her best and we are delighted that she has been able to make a success of our second shop.
My son, Albert, is our graphic designer and the computer expert – we really couldn’t do without him and are grateful that he juggles this job with his university education.
My youngest daughter, Minnie, is still trying her hand at a bit of everything – learning the business and finding the role she can grow into. We do have staff that aren’t family members too (though they may as well be)!
Holly is our general helper, in training to be a manager and we couldn’t do without her – like all of us she does a bit of everything, from serving customers to editing photos to making a product.
Lesley is in charge of our fab selection of plants, her green fingers keep our herbs looking luscious and her friendly nature means she’s always happy to help out the customers.
Ross is both our sales manager and a sales assistant in our Cardiff shop- one of the friendliest people you could meet; he’ll always strive to put customers at ease.
Gayle is the newest addition to our team, taking over as chocolatier (an ideal job, we know!). She’s doing fantastically, turning out deliciously shiny artisan chocolate, and already using her creative abilities to add to our already large chocolate selection.
We believe that independents offer an amazing combination of unique design and high quality. Do you agree? How do you ensure this happens at St. Kitts Herbery?
Absolutely, independent businesses have to offer these things. Unlike big multinationals, independent businesses generally cannot afford to mass-produce cheap products, so they have to offer something different; quality and uniqueness are the backbones of indie business.
At St Kitts Herbery we continue to develop our products to the highest standards, working in a very tight-knit team, so everything is of the quality our customers have come to expect. Of course, when it comes to the chocolate this also involves quite a lot of taste tests!
The truth is that the world doesn’t really need more toiletries or more chocolate – so we have to do something you can’t get elsewhere. We create unique scents that have their roots in nature and combine them with fantastic toiletries that are designed to make you feel like you’ve bought something special. The same goes for our chocolate – there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a bar of Cadbury’s, but we try to create chocolate that you can’t get elsewhere; whether it’s an unusual flavour, such as basil or geranium, or just a fantastically full topped bar, like our fat slabs.
Everything we create is with the idea that it’s a treat – whether you enjoy it every day or once a year.
You’ve featured some great ‘make your own …’ tutorials on your blog. Do you creating and sharing these mini projects?
We love this series of blogs. If we didn’t enjoy making toiletries so much, we would never have managed to develop the brand that we have and it is lovely to think that someone else could discover the same love through our blog. It’s also great to dispel this myth that skin care has to be overly complicated and expensive – there are so many things that you can make at home that really will work wonders, not to mention make fantastic gifts!
You currently specialise in herbal toiletries and chocolate. What inspires you about this area of gift giving? Do you plan to continue in this area or do you have plans to extend your collection?
What ties everything together in our business is the herb connection, so we have a range of products that are inspired by this including the chocolate and toiletries. Our particular passion though lies in perfumes. We love to create beautiful scents and know how luxurious it can feel to smell great.
Our whole business is based on the idea of luxury and what that means to people. We are always looking ahead to what concoction we can come up with next, whether it be fragrance or chocolate, and there are so many options still unexplored that it could be a long time before we feel done enough to move onto something else.
Which of the St Kitts Herbery collection are the bestsellers? Why do you think they’re so popular?
Our Rosemary and Bergamot range is always our bestseller. They have a fabulously fresh, very ‘spa like’ fragrance that is completely unisex – if you’re unsure what fragrance to choose as a gift, then this is almost always the best choice! They are also the products that people come across most often when visiting Cornwall, where they find them in lots of holiday venues, as well as great eating places like Nathan Outlaw’s restaurants or Fifteen Cornwall.
What are your personal favourite products in your current collection?
Our perfumes, without a doubt, I am a real perfume fan. I love all of the fragrances, but always get hooked on the latest one, so at the moment I can’t pass the Elemi and Orris display without having a squirt of perfume.
What can gift givers expect from St Kitts Herbery in the coming months?
We are always trying to change and improve our gift offering. Obviously, everything you buy here makes a fab gift, but we always try to put together a range of gift sets that will genuinely be appreciated by the recipient, and, just as importantly, meet the expected price point of the buyer. We’re also putting together some hampers soon, which will combine our gorgeous handmade chocolate with specially selected, locally produced ales – watch this space!
Your collection shows great attention to detail and quality. What can you tell us about the craftsmanship involved in creating your products?
As we were developing our business we found we had a great product that became transformed into a fantastic product with packaging and the right presentation. Once we learned this lesson we applied it to everything we do and we are always looking to expand our knowledge. We take pride in what we do at every stage, from creation to sales to promotion.
Along our journey, we have been fortunate enough to have a few choice pieces of advice at pivotal stages and we know that there is always something to learn and make an effort to seek out advice (even if we subsequently don’t take it). I suppose what I am trying to say here is that we learned early on to look at what we do through the eyes of strangers – it makes us more critical of our efforts and that is what leads us to constantly improve.
Your products feature a wide variety of scents. What can you tell us about the process of selecting which scents to use?
Our product creation is always perfume led – we’ll be looking for a new scent range and the products come after. For example, we knew we had a gap in our offering of products for men so we decided to design a scent just for them. We had this idea of an old-fashioned, musky kind of a smell, reminiscent of leather and cigar smoke, and after much experimentation ended up with our Colonial range.
Whilst all of our scents are based on an idea in this way, some are more recognisable than others. The instantly recognisable, for example, Rosemary and Bergamot, sit side by side with the more complex ones such as Mist. Mist contains notes of lemon and eucalyptus, green and herbs, alongside rose, neroli, amber and cedarwood – a blend that combines to be evocative of a misty morning on the moors.
Shopping with St Kitts Herbery
Why should people shop with you? What makes you different?
We want people to shop with us because they love our products and enjoy the service we give them; these are the real reasons for customer loyalty and the fact we are an independent company is a bonus.
We LOVE independents and think more people should be supporting them. Why do you think people should shop with independent businesses like yours?
Shopping with independent stores is an extension of the buy local campaigns we have seen so much of in recent years. Independent stores are more likely to be UK based businesses where the benefits of the money spent in them remain in the UK. It creates local jobs and the lack of corporate identity tends to lead to more individual and personal service.
You’ve read the interview, now it’s time to see the collection. Visit the St Kitts Herbery website.