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Fifield Road Apothecary Founder, Leslie Jowett Astor, talks skincare recommendations for seasonal change, maturing skin & more…

Fifield Road Apothecary are kindly offering Luminous members 20% off their entire range of small batch, plant based, artisanal soaps, skin balms, deodorants and haircare throughout September.  We caught up with their Founder, Leslie, to hear what prompted her to start the business as well as her top skincare recommendations…

Tell us, about Fifield Road Apothecary and what prompted you to start the business?

At Fifield Road Apothecary, I make a range of cold process soap and other personal care products using plant based, sustainable ingredients, and where possible, incorporating extracts of plants and flowers which I grow or forage locally. I first learned to make soap on a course I took in New York (where I had been living) in 2008, and after moving to England in 2012 I started teaching soap making workshops. It was only more recently that I realized there was a gap in the market for high quality, locally made bar soap (there seems to be plenty around that’s made in France!). So in the autumn of 2018 I launched Fifield Road Apothecary, with eight bars of soap and one skin balm.  I’ve since increased my product range to include solid shampoos and conditioners, deodorant and lip balm. And I’m working on adding to my collection further still. 

One of the 5 key pillars in the Luminous Face Yoga method is ‘wellness’ – and taking a bath is the ultimate daily wellness ritual for us; can you tell us about your bath tea, it sounds gorgeous!

My bath tea is lovely-it’s a blend of Bath Teamineralizing salt, skin softening oats, healing, wild foraged chamomile and calming lavender essential oil. And while I love soaking in botanical infusions, I hate having flowers stuck to my skin and clogging the drain of a bath! So I packed all of the ingredients into cotton muslin bags and offered them as a bath teas, which you’d infuse in the tub exactly as you’d infuse tea in a cup. The cloth bag then doubles as an exfoliating bath scrub, after which it can be composted or emptied and re-used. I strive for low waste in my packaging. 

A restorative night’s sleep is also key for maintaining a healthy glow – how do your products promote a good night’s sleep?

See question above! My bath tea is a terrific pre-bedtime soak for anyone who has trouble winding down in the evening (including children). I scent all of my products with pure essential oils, and some of them are particularly good at facilitating a restful night’s sleep. Lavender is typically the go to scent for most people looking to relax, and I use it in my bath tea, Flower Power Healing skin balm, Spike Lavender and Vetiver Soap and Lavender and Tea Tree Soap with Activated Charcoal. But for a creature of habit like me, a good night’s sleep starts an hour before bedtime, with screens off, a good book and a cup of hot herbal tea. Every night, without fail.

As a herbal alchemist, what is your daily skincare regimen…which plants and herbs do you rely heavily on to promote skin health?

I really do wash my face with soap! I change up the type depending on the season or what’s going on with my skin at a given time. Currently I’m washing with my Patchouli and Frankincense soap as Frankincense essential oil is known for it’s restorative and healing properties, and is particularly recommended for maturing skin. Also, as we shift into autumn I love the woodsy, earthy scent. In the winter I might switch to my Chamomile and Calendula soap, which is super gentle and nourishing for my very parched winter face. Occasionally I lean on my Lavender and Tea tree soap with Activated Charcoal to help clear away break outs (which I annoyingly still get from time to time) or if I’m undergoing any kind of dietary detox, as the charcoal draws out toxins and tea tree is very anti bacterial. I also try to keep my skin healthy from the inside, and there are lots of herbs to help with that. In the spring I drink plenty of dandelion and goosegrass infusions; the former is a great cleanse for a sluggish, post winter liver and the latter is a great lymphatic cleanser. I also drink fresh nettle tea, which has diuretic, cleansing properties and is helpful for alleviating skin troubles like eczema. A nettle and rosemary infusion is also great for dry and itchy scalps. 

Can you share with us any beauty or wellness rituals you couldn’t live without?

I would go crazy if I skipped my daily walks (with my two dogs), as these tick the boxes for both physical and mental health. I don’t think I could get the same peace of mind from any exercise class that I get from walking through the woods and getting to know my local flora and fauna as the seasons change, year in, year out. I also run a few times a week, off road and in the woods if at all possible. 

As a female business owner, what advice would you give to anyone thinking of starting their own business?

Start where you are. If you have a great idea, or a passion for something that you think can be turned into a business, just take a step (or two) every day towards making it happen. Once you make a start, more will be revealed about what needs to happen next. I’m a big believer in serendipity, and the idea that chance favours the prepared mind. If you do the work, take the actions, and believe in what you’re doing things will happen to help move you along in the direction you’re meant to be moving. And if at any point in the process you feel like beating yourself up, put down your big stick and pick up a feather. For me, the biggest challenge has been balancing work life and family life, and I know countless women who say the same. We do so much for so many, so it’s important to calibrate expectations and outcomes for work and home, and to remember we’re doing amazing things all the time!

Tell us something most people don’t know about you?

As a child I briefly lived in Tupelo, Mississippi, birthplace of Elvis Presley!

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Nothing is more comforting to me than warm chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven, with a cold glass of milk. I would eat a dozen in one sitting if no one was looking. 

What’s next for Fifield Road Apothecary?

I’m hoping to stock my products in more shops in the next year. Covid has meant the cancellation of many fairs and markets where I would  have been selling in person this year, so I’m ready to look towards developing more retail partnerships. I’m also working on new product development, and have been taking an online diploma course in natural skin care formulation so I can learn to work with more complex ingredients.