Amanda Saurin has been on our radar for a while now. Not just because her beautiful flagship store is in our hometown, but also because of her joyful and inspirational approach to her business, A.S APOTHECARY - and indeed to life. Infused with Amanda's love of plants, her organic skincare products are exquisite concoctions aimed at promoting not just beauty but wellbeing. Her range is carefully curated and each plant is hand selected to ensure only the highest quality ingredients find their way into a product. We caught up with Amanda between a trip to Cyprus sourcing plants for her skincare range and installing her new Alembic Still (a mighty-looking copper contraption for distilling), and picked her brains about what she does and why she loves it.
Welcome Amanda, thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions. We are really excited to have you here.
1. Can you tell us what you do and how you came to be doing it?
I have very unusual but incredibly satisfying work, I often describe it as an organic amble. I think we often make the mistake of rigidly defining ourselves and what we do to the exclusion of everything else, for me every experience adds another layer of possibility. The only limiting factor is the courage to leap.
I am first and foremost a plantswoman - I have worked with flowers, trees and herbs for over 30 years. I’m a qualified Homeopath using herbs as the mainstay of my practice. I’m also a distiller, skincare maker and most recently producer of delicious aromatics to the Isle of Harris Distillery.
My route to my current work has come via teaching, law and art…
2. If you had one piece of advice or wisdom to pass on to your younger self, what would it be?
Do what your heart desires, the rest will follow. And the supplementary advice with the benefit of hindsight, if you have those 5 children you’ll never be rich but every day you’ll benefit from all that love.
3. What is it about the simple life that you find appealing?
I don’t have a simple life. I don’t think in this world right now there can be simplicity – in common with virtually all the women I know and work with, life is a complex juggling exercise and it’s disingenuous to deny it. The combination of children, partner and elderly parents precludes simplicity. What I do have is a rich and fulfilling work life that allows for the joy of simple pleasures. The plants we grow, the harvesting of Roses, Lavender and all the rest is beyond delight. Travelling to Cyprus and the Isle of Harris to pick and distil is quite simply salve for the soul.
4. How can we counter the pulls of content-sharing and curating images of our lives with the need for being in the moment?
This question is underpinned by another: how do we ensure that in presenting our curated lives we are honest? I think content sharing can be great, it can be a way of inviting people into your world, revealing the parts of your work that inspire you. However, where life becomes content led, in other words rather than taking the odd snap of something you love you feel pressure to publish a daily perfection, there is a major problem. There is a fine line between sharing for pleasure and dictating a particular look, offering reality versus a hyper-sanitised version, being inspirational and offering false aspiration. These are all in need of balance and thought. Content sharing should be secondary to living your life not dominated by creating photo opportunities. Eat the food, drink the coffee, live and take the odd photo.
5. Who inspires you?
It is no exaggeration to say that the team of women I work with are a daily inspiration – they manage their lives, their children and then they come into work and manage me. Without them, A.S APOTHECARY would literally be nothing. They grow the plants, tend the garden, help with making, organise orders, dispatch, run the shop, clean, clear, settle accounts, write engaging copy and everything else. When I walk in with a new idea they listen, help me to think it through and go for it. They are unafraid, they leap with me and offer wise counsel along the way.
6. What are your essential homeware items/ things you couldn’t do without?
Without my French press I simply could not function. I love coffee, it is a ritual that I find sets off my day perfectly.
I also love my pen knife which I carry everywhere I go – I use it for taking cuttings, scraping off tree resins, dividing perennials and on impromptu picnics.
7. What would you like to be doing in 10 years’ time?
I have literally no idea. I rather like the idea of buying a camper van (the GranVan) and wandering between the homes of my children creating mayhem with my grand children. I’ll still be making things and working with plants – that is a lifelong passion.
8. What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done?
I’ve lived a life of wildness with too many adventures to mention but actually, the consistently wildest thing I’ve done is to defy convention on a daily basis. I’ve railed against all the rubbish I see in the beauty industry, I’ve exposed the hypocrisy of green washing and championed real, honest skincare – that really is wild in this day and age.
So much to take away from this, thank you so much Amanda Saurin.
And if you'd like to read more in our A Simple Path interview series, in which we speak to creative and makers who share our love of a simple aesthetic and a slower approach to life, go here and here.