Today I have the absolute pleasure of Introducing Amanda Saurin, the creator of AS.AP which stands for Amanda Saurin Apothecary and a true artisan who has inspired me with her beautiful creations and endless knowledge. Amanda to me embodies everything I love about truly natural, handmade skincare and those who create it with passion and devotion. Without further ado over to Amanda:
Q- AS.AP stands for Amanda Saurin Apothecary, what inspired you to create your own range?
A- I have worked with plants for over 30 years and am a qualified Homeopath and a Herbalist. As part of my work I saw many people with skin complaints such as eczema and psoriasis and realised that there must be an alternative to conventional steroid treatment. With this in mind I started making balms and creams for my patients from remedies and herbs. They worked really well and so I began making other products and gradually a range developed. From there it was a small step to thinking that I should make products available for everyone, made with the same love and therapeutic intention and AS.AP was born.
Q- You distil many of the plants you use in your products yourself, where did you learn the skill and how does it affect how you formulate products?
A- To say I love distilling is a complete understatement – there is nothing like filling the Alembic Still with plants we have grown ourselves or wild gathered, adding the water, assembling the Still, turning on the heat and waiting for the first drops of flower water and essential oil. I learnt to distil over several years whilst living in Cyprus guided by Mariam, a Sufi friend. Distilling is as much an art as a science, it is a means of coaxing the therapeutics out of the plant and every distillation is different. Each essential oil requires a lot of plant material and so I am respectful of my oils, I formulate the combinations mindfully and use the oils wisely.
My aromatic waters are not a waste product of essential oil production as they are when made on a commercial basis, I distil them as carefully as the essential oils – if done correctly the aromatic water should still contain some oil within it creating a powerfully complex therapeutic product.
Q- What are some of your favourite ingredients to use in your skincare?
A- That is such a difficult question Ana, when I’m picking in Cyprus it’s the Labdanum, Orange Blossom and Geranium that make my heart sing. When on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides it’s the Thyme, Meadowsweet and Honeysuckle. At home it’s the Roses, Lavender, Clary Sage, Calendula and Chamomile that leave me joyful at harvest. My favourites are those I grow or forage for, they all have a special place in the AS.AP products.
Q- How do you go about sourcing your ingredients?
I always start with who I know. I’m very fortunate that as a therapist I have really good contacts who care as much as I do about ingredients, they are usually my first port of call. Beyond that, through my links with the Sufi community in Cyprus, I have fantastic access to specialist oil suppliers all around the world. I prefer to buy, where I can, from people who can tell me as much as possible about the product. I’m currently very excited because my friend Mariam has just invested in a cold oil press so I shall soon have my Borage, Pumpkin, Castor and other oils hand pressed for me.
Q- All of your products come with small batch reports telling people, where the ingredients came from and how they were grown. Why is this such an important part of the process for you?
Louisa Thomsen-Brits who works with me mentioned that in coffee harvesting a small batch report is always produced to help the buyer understand the specifics of each harvest. I thought it was brilliant and decided to do the same for AS.AP, I wanted to offer the buyer a glimpse into our world, to get a sense of what we do and to feel part of the process, to share our passion. I love the idea that people can relate a product to a particular harvest not as a gimmick but as a means of really knowing where the key ingredients come from.
Q- Why should people buy natural and sustainably sourced products like yours?
A- For many years women have been exposed to a narrative that only flawless skin will make you attractive, powerful etc. and that we must all strive to look much younger than we are because through that we will meet the man of our dreams, get the best job, have the cleverest children and so on...It is a narrative that creates and then compounds insecurity. In contrast, natural and sustainably sourced skincare has at its heart a philosophy that we should celebrate our skin and support it to be the best it can be. It’s not about conforming to a stereotype, it’s about putting something on our skin that feeds, nourishes and protects. It’s also about doing no harm – using the very best natural ingredients, making products mindfully and with care and encouraging women and men to create rituals of skincare that make them feel really cared for. It’s about trust between us the makers and you the clients.
Q- What is the favourite part of your job?
The workshop is often busy, always with music, frequently with singing and sometimes whisking is punctuated by dance – this is great. However my favourite part of the job is when everyone has gone home and it’s just me and the plants. I walk round the drying racks turning the petals over in my hands, I shake the jars of macerating herbs, I might re-smell an oil combination I made earlier and after all that, I wander through the flower beds outside and if it’s sunny I sit on the bench outside and marvel at the wonder of it all.
Q- What can we expect from AS.AP in the future?
Not a day goes by without a new idea for a product – many go into the ‘flight of fancy’ book to be returned to at a later date whilst others are in process as I write. We will be expanding our range shortly – the detail of which will soon be revealed. It’s a very exciting time for us and we are so grateful for all the support we have received from bloggers, clients and stockists. It has been a wonderful start to 2015 and with our team of fantastic women (and Will) we hope to keep on singing, dancing and joyfully making products well into the future.
Thank you Amanda for a detailed and heartfelt interview. I hope you enjoyed reading Amanda's answers as much as I did, she really puts her passion in to words so beautifully. You can find Amanda's beautiful products at www.asapoth.com and at stockists Content Beauty and Seed to Serum.