We're excited to expand our skincare and haircare offer with a brand that produces outstanding, natural formulation products, and also sources, produces and packages those products with sustainability front of mind. Welcome to the world of Fifield Road Apothecary, and its founder, Leslie Jowett Astor.
Plum & Belle: How did Fifield Road Apothecary begin?
Leslie: I’m an American living in the Cotswolds, having moved to England in 2012 with my British husband and three young boys after two decades living in New York City. I’d learned to make soap many years before, and had always been a maker (I studied ceramic sculpture and graphic design in college). I’d worked in the non-profit arts sector before my kids were born and later had a business making and designing accessories for knitters, but it was falling in love with the countryside, and learning about the beautiful and abundant healing plants and flowers that were right on my doorstep, that changed my course. I began to self study herbalism and build my home apothecary and then experimented with ways to work with plants I could use in my skin and self-care routines. In 2018 I started Fifield Road Apothecary as a way to marry my practice of traditional craft and self-sufficiency skills with my passion for plants, home herbalism and wildcrafting. I make soap using the time-honoured cold process method, working only with plant-based ingredients, ethical suppliers of organic butters and oils, and plastic-free packaging. All of my products are made by hand in small batches, and many of the soap and balms across my range incorporate healing oil infusions from plants that I responsibly forage from the fields and hedgerows on our restorative family farm in the Cotswolds. A lot of my offerings are seasonal; you can find dandelion soap in the spring, rosehip soap in the autumn, and first-aid plant skin balm year round.
P&B: What are the three things about your business that make your heart sing?
Leslie: Hearing from customers who take the time to share with me that my products solved a problem for them really makes my heart sing. I’ve heard from folks who became converts to solid shampoo bars after they'd tried mine, or who’d just about given up on their search of a natural deodorant that worked until they tried the one I make. I have had more than one customer swear that my Flower Power Healing Balm has worked wonders on alleviating their eczema symptoms. So in addition to great feedback it really touches me when people take a few minutes out of their busy day to make a human connection with me, the person who made the product, By extension, people who switch to my products are giving up another bit of single use plastic, and every one of those changes is a win for everyone.
P&B: What are Fifield Road's key sustainable and ethical elements?
Leslie: In terms of sustainability, I’m most pleased about being a plastic-free brand and using low-impact packaging across my brand. Millions of plastic shampoo bottles wind up in landfill in the UK each year; offering people a viable solution to this with my products feels significant. In addition to using aluminum packaging, which is quickly and endlessly recyclable, I also use GOTS organic Fairtrade cotton bags to package my soap, my labels are printed on recycled paper, and even my posting materials are plastic-free, right down to the tape on the outside of the package. I also work hard to maintain an ethical supply chain and choose suppliers who source butters and oils from Fairtrade, sustainable origins. Most of my ingredients are organic and all are COSMOS/EcoCert approved, something I’d love to pursue certification for within the next year or so. The plants I use in my wildcrafted products are all very responsibly harvested, and make for some really special products that you can’t get from mass-produced brands. Finally, I donate a portion of every sale I make to the global reforestation charity One Tree Planted, and for the past several months have been directing those donations to tree planting right here in the UK.
P&B: Do you have a signature product, something that really sums up what your brand is about?
Leslie: I can’t have a favourite product; it would be like having a favourite child! Each thing I make has its own personality and merits, and some days I’m in the mood for one more than another. I do love the solid conditioner bar at the moment. My hair is so coarse and frizzy and the conditioner really tames it so beautifully after washing. And my Petitgrain and Palmarosa bath bombs have been a real treat for my bone-dry winter skin. In the spring, or maybe even tomorrow, my answer will change.
P&B: What about Plum & Belle feels like it has particular synergy with your brand?
Leslie: I’m so happy to be working alongside Plum & Belle, whose core values so closely align with my own. I use natural and nature-derived ingredients in my products, use recycled, recyclable and upcycled packaging and packing materials, offer limited-edition, seasonal runs of certain products based on the availability of locally harvested plants, use plant-based products (which, apart from beeswax in my balms, are vegan, and always cruelty free), practice traditional, small-batch production, and make everything myself, right here in the UK.
P&B: What are your future aims for Fifield Road?
Leslie: I’d like to continue to grow my business at a slow but steady pace; due to the nature of small-batch production there’s only so much I can and wish to scale up. I always have ideas for new products I’d like to try, but as a one-woman show I tend to get caught up in the day to day of running the business. But I’d love to offer some skin creams, where I currently only offer balms. I think this is the year I need to hire a proper assistant and trust that someone else can be taught to help make my products with as much care and attention as I do!
Plum & Belle's values and Fifield Road Apothecary:
- Natural materials (ingredients in this case)
- Minimal waste, pollutants and emissions
- Recyclable/compostable packaging
- Made in the UK
- With certification
Thanks so much Leslie. It's great to be able to share your inspiration, process and plans. We're excited to see your new developments and see this wonderful brand go from strength to strength.
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