Her father Alan, Amanda explains, was an important player in the natural ingredients world, travelling the globe sourcing botanicals for the beauty world for his company, A&E Connock. ‘Dad would come home with wonderful oils and stories of how they were used to great effect in their native countries, although they were not well known here.’ As children, she recalls, Amanda and her brother would blend their own fragrances ‘from Dad’s old samples of perfume, and make our own floral waters in buckets in the garden shed…’
After studying Horticulture, Alan Connock had spent 12 years gaining technical experience in beauty, fragrance and cosmetics. Amanda’s mother, Elizabeth, had an Honours degree in Biochemistry. And so A&E Connock was born in 1973, not long after Amanda’s parents were married, supplying hard-to-find ingredients to the perfumery and cosmetics industry.
Four years later, Amanda herself was born – the second of five children – and the expanding family moved to the stunning 14th Century Hampshire mill house which is still the company’s HQ, today. ‘As a young child,’ remembers Amanda fondly, ‘I would sit in Dad’s office while he worked and smell the different bottles of fragrance on his desk.’ She got her first experience of fragrance creation blending those discarded samples.
Showing early entrepreneurial flair, Amanda and her brother would also make scented bath salts which they sold to their parents. (Less successful were experiments creating floral waters from cherry blossom and rose petals – which is how many of us learn just how challenging it is to extract something beautiful from naturals…!)
Growing up, Amanda and her family soaked up Alan Connock’s stories of his expeditions and discoveries. Significantly, he was first to introduce the wonderfully skin-nourishing kukui oil to the beauty world – such an important element in Connock London‘s bodycare (which we’ll come onto in a moment…)
There was never a doubt that Amanda would follow in her father’s footsteps: he spotted her interest, early on. After a business degree, she joined the family business, working closely with her father. Heart-breakingly, just four years later, Alan died unexpectedly – but she explains: ‘His passion is still very much alive in me. I realised there was an opportunity to develop a range of products and to tell Dad’s stories again using my own experience and my family’s heritage in the industry.’ Which is how Connock London came into being…
That extraordinary kukui oil – used for centuries by Hawaiians to keep skin soft and smooth – was at the heart of the debut body collection, and is still its star ingredient today. ‘Traditionally,’ explains Amanda, ‘newborn babies were bathed in the oils a means of protection from the harsh sun, drying winds and salt water.’
Over 20 years ago, the Connock family began sourcing kukui oil from a small factory on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, which Amanda has visited many times. Kukui – plus shea butter and tamanu oil – give Connock London its sublime textures. But when the collection launched, something unexpected happened: customers started e-mailing and writing to ask if they could experience its sublime, tropical white floral scent as a perfume – not just a body lotion, a bath treat or a hand nourisher. In fact, this is the first instance we can think of where a body collection has given birth to a fine fragrance – because that’s exactly what Amanda decided to create, after that rapturous customer feedback.
The Connock London perfume itself was blended to conjure up the soul – and the stunning beauty – of the Hawaiian landscapes. A deliciously wearable floriental, it captures armfuls of white flowers: jasmine and calla lily, together with Moroccan rose and Italian bergamot, for its bright freshness.
As it’s warmed by the skin, intriguing base notes make their presence known: white amber, sandalwood, vetiver, cashmere and sheer musks, underpinned by the rich bitter chocolate-y sweetness of tonka bean and vanilla absolute. The comments on Connock London‘s website say it all: ‘It really is different to all other fragrances – feminine, fresh and light – so many compliments from friends; I’m spreading the word…’ ‘A gorgeous, unique scent’, is how another fan puts it…
Naturally, Connock London‘s bodycare makes it perfect for ‘layering’ – on top of Kukui Oil Radiant Glow Body Oil, perhaps, or Kukui Oil Hydrating Body Lotion – or bestselling Kukui Oil Wonder Balm, which (we’ve tried it) creates a fabulous long-lasting ‘base’ for the fragrance. (And when you really fall for this exotic floral, you’ll want to know that it can be enjoyed as a diffuser or a candle, for the home.)
So: take one dynamic businesswoman. Add tropical ingredients and exotic fragrance notes. What you have is a home-grown British success story. (And one that we can’t help feeling would make Amanda Connock‘s father immeasurably proud…)