Perfumer Simon Constantine is on a mission to ‘unstink the world!’ Formerly at Gorilla Perfumes, and having created some of the more challenging (and critically acclaimed) scents for his father’s company, Lush, he’s now launched his own fragrance house, with conservation and kindness in mind…
‘So, the world’s falling apart, at least that’s how it feels right?’ Simon Constantine begins – his to-the-point attitude a clue as to the ethos of the niche fragrance house he so longed to create. ‘In short it stinks,’ he continues, ‘and a lot of it’s our fault. But it may not be over just yet. We can still make choices to help. Take actions to heal. And do stuff to make a difference.’
With his years of experience travelling the world to source fragrant ingredients for Lush and Gorilla Perfumes, Simon got to see first-hand the devastation caused by illegal sandalwood smuggling, for example, which hugely impacts the communities who depend on the crop to survive. And although increasingly, fragrance companies are now taking action on sustainability and paying living wages to the farmers and workers who many of our favourite fragrances rely on, Simon felt there was more – much more – to be done. But he’s pragmatic, as well as a dreamer. ‘Let’s be honest,’ he confesses, ‘ånd isn’t going to change the world or ‘save it’ on its own. But we can make a stand.’
Just where did this passion for fragrance and, most importantly, working cooperatively with indigenous communities, come from? Throwing back to the start of his career in perfumery, starting at Lush Cosmetics in 1991, Simon created fragrances for their hand-made beauty products, and in 2010 launched Gorilla Perfumes by Lush with his father and Lush’s co-founder, Mark Constantine. The fragrances were ‘inspired by music, art, and people’ who Simon had met through his numerous travels around the world, in his role as Lush’s Head of Ethical Buying.
Fairness and sustainability always went hand-in-hand as far as Simon was concerned. He explains that his passion for developing supportive partnerships and looking beyond sustainable sourcing has always been ‘the core of my approach to perfumery.’ So, it makes perfect sense that Simon wanted to continue the work he began at Lush, ‘supporting communities whose voices need to be heard at this time of ecological and climate crisis.’
Launching a fragrance brand in the midst of a global pandemic perhaps in 2020 probably isn’t to be found in a ‘How to Start a Business’ handbook, but Simon gives off a sense of boundless optimism and a gung-ho spirit that carries him through everything. Indeed, with the world ‘seemingly falling apart’, as he puts it, perhaps this actually was the very best moment for ånd fragrance to take its place on the world’s scent stage? Because fragrance can change lives – and not only for those of us who wear and treasure it every day…
‘ånd fragrances are formulated from the highest quality, carefully sourced, exquisite ingredients. But everyone says that sort of stuff,’ Simon chuckles. ‘ånd is different though. Very different. ånd is regenerative, supporting communities whose voices need to be heard at this time of ecological and climate crisis.’
The message of hope is contained within each bottle of ånd fragrance, which showcase well-known and much-loved ingredients, but in an utterly unique way. Within Frånk, as the name may suggest, it’s frankincense – but not, Simon pithily assures us, ‘dark, churchy dusty incense and smells of a dodgy pipe smoking priest’s frayed robes.’ Instead, it’s the fruitier characteristics he explores, while ‘supporting a series of small-scale community nurseries growing hardy frankincense trees for the future.’
For Beån (right), the focus is the richly delicious tonka, and supporting the indigenous Kayapo peoples of the Amazon; meanwhile, Båre ignores the ‘pencil shavings’ dryness of cedar and instead evokes the raw green of Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest.
As for the bottles themselves? A great deal of thought has been given to packaging, with the caps for the bottles made using problem waste plastic. As ånd fragrance bluntly (but brilliantly) put it, ‘Each cap is hand-pressed from everyone else’s crap.’ The Tåg solid perfumes, meanwhile, are fashioned from Ecuadorian tag nuts, known as ‘vegetable ivory’.
So whichever ånd fragrance you choose, you’ll be living the ethos of dreaming big, doing good and smelling better. ‘And that’s got to be a good thing, right?’ Simon smiles, ‘So let’s unstink the world. Together.’