There are brands that we consider ‘little life luxuries’, nothing so extreme that we can’t treat ourselves or loved ones to those known favourites; the ones you sense, if you buy for someone it will put a smile on their face…but how much do we know of these brands really except our notion that it’s a “good brand’?
Well, let’s take Molton Brown for an example. One of those brands much copied but if you go into someone’s bathroom and see the hand wash, stand, and hand moisturiser you do feel just that little bit more impressed don’t you? So what of the brand’s beginnings, do you even know why its called Molton Brown? Does it matter even…well yes as a brand will set out its intentions from the beginning, and in many ways, Molton Brown was ahead of the curve (and probably why it’s been SO copied without others reaching its great heights). So let’s explore a little of this much-loved household name.
There is an extremely famous fashion shop in London’s South Molton Street called Browns. It was opened in 1970 by Sidney and Joan Bernstein and was the first multi-brand store of its kind. Still today it is considered one of the greatest fashion stores ever. It’s founded careers of designers such as John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, and Hussain Chalayan; some of whose student collections were not just bought by the store but shown in the windows.
The Bernsteins’ daughter Caroline, having grown up part of this fashion dynasty, married a hairdresser called Michael Collis, who has come through the school of hairdressing royalty having been trained at Vidal Sassoon, the then pinnacle of hairdressing in London if not the world.
Michael and Caroline went on to open a hairdressing shop in 1973 in of course where else but South Molton Street, down the road from the parents/in-laws infamous store. So where does the name come from…Well take the Molton out of South Molton street and the Browns for the store and there you have Molton Brown!
That simple? Well, no..Michael and Caroline knew they wanted to go a step further, they wanted the hairdressing salon to be a destination store, to have a truly green footprint (long before anyone talked of the green impact) and to sell their hair products. Initially included was a restaurant because the ladies who were Vogue Editors and society women needed to eat, but who went to this particular salon because of the natural finger dried hair Michael was known for, but also for the elements which all added to the idea of a mini-retreat.
Therefore the shop became very much a destination store (again before we talked about destination stores), where women came to of course get their hair done but also to unwind and have treatments, again long before we had day spas or treatment rooms. They had looked towards creating their own natural hair products that were cruelty-free and not full of things that would damage the environment. The earliest product was done at the kitchen table of their country home in Hertfordshire where the family all (including their kids) got involved in packaging the freshly made batches.
They don’t test on animals and since 1973 they been awarded the Leaping Bunny stamp of approval by Cruelty Free International, certifying all products to be free from animal tests under the International Humane Cosmetics and Household Products Standards.
The company was innovative from the start taking first spot places in many ways as mentioned above. Yet another was in 1989 when a hotel manager fell in love with the products and so Molton Brown was the first brand to go into producing miniatures especially for hotels. They have a royal warrant too and cruelty free awards as well as being one of the first brands to add a men’s collection (1985). However what you may not also know and what is the cornerstone of the brand’s success is the noses (perfumers) so associated with the brand.
20o7 saw the launch of their first perfume and in 2011 a unisex one (again early adopters) which was a journey started that proved the very essence of the brand i.e using the best ingredients for perfumes that could be sold at high street price points. This meant not working with anything but the best raw ingredients possible and working with some incredibly renowned noses such as Jennifer Jambon, Shyamala Maisondieu, Philippe Bousseton, and more recently but many times over with Jacques Charbert and his daughter Carla Charbert (Charbert actually works with both his daughter now). This also means each and every product is of the highest level when it comes to the scent, as the expertise and products utilised work across perfumes to home products, shampoos to candles.
Now, these above names may not be household known but the fragrances whose scents are loved the world over, like Guerlian’s Samsara or Chanel’s Crystal (to name but a few), were both created by the genius that is Monsieur Charbert. So know when you are buying into this company you are actually buying in to a world of expertise all coming from what is a quintessentially British brand.
So next time you spot it in a bathroom or you reach to it for the next buy gift for a loved one (or yourself) know you are buying into a heavyweight delicious brand that brings expertise with the best of credentials and that touch of luxury we all desire.
With thanks to the TCS team for their help