But have you wondered how they are made? Fragrances today are mostly a fusion of ingredients taken from nature – or inspired by nature – together with the synthetic ingredients. Natural oils are extracted from plants by different methods, such as steam distillation. The art of perfumery is about choosing the best ingredients and perfecting the best ratio to create a desirable scent.
Businesswoman Rita Bains has long admired the designer fragrances that could be found on the high street but isn’t a fan of the premium price tags. Perfume has always been considered a luxury product but Rita believed it should also be affordable and ethical too.
While chatting with friends over lunch about their favourite scents and what they liked and disliked about the brands currently available in the market, she had a lightbulb moment. She realised there was a gap in the market for vegan eau de parfum that was also environmentally conscious.
“I thought: could we make our own? I started researching the process and looking at the different options. I knew I wanted it to be vegan and cruelty-free. All of these ideas came together and The Perfume Laboratory was born,” says Rita.
The business launched in September 2019 with a shop in Bridgnorth’s Central Court and the first collection of fragrances. After quickly out-growing their premises, The Perfume Laboratory moved to Whitburn Street last autumn.
The team, which includes Rita’s husband, Omar Musallam, and friend Alex Doyle, now offer a collection of 55 bespoke scents in the product range and each one is hand crafted with vegan oils. All the ingredients used in the products have been chosen meticulously to ensure that they have not been tested on animals.
“We mix all the oils ourselves. It takes a long time as it has to be very precise, and we crimp the bottles by hand. Each of our fragrances, which are PETA-Certified, are inspired by signature scents but with a bespoke twist,” says Rita.
Ranging from fresh florals to crushed tobacco and bourbon, the scents also pay homage to Shropshire as each one is named after a town, village or hamlet in the county.
For example, Claverley is described as a fruity floral fragrance with top notes of apple, pear, lemon, mandarin and loganberry.
Tibberton is a fresh, marine fragrance where citrus notes of bergamot, lemon and orange mingle with hints of pink pepper and green leaf.
Bridgnorth has a spicy mistletoe accord opening with pink pepper, cardamom, frankincense and citrus notes.
And Adderley is a blend of Eastern oudh sweetened with juicy mango and fresh grapefruit, followed by red rose, geranium, patchouli and sweet musk.
Rita says the local place names have proven popular with customers and often inspire people to try a particular scent.
“We’ve had a lot of brides buying perfumes for their wedding because it’s where they are getting married.”
The perfumes are sold in glass bottles without any additional packaging which Rita says keeps prices affordable while also benefitting the environment. “We wanted to keep it clean and simple and reduce waste. Customers get a quality perfume at an affordable price without all the wasteful packaging,” she explains.
Customers are encouraged to bring back their empty containers for recycling to redeem special discounts on future purchases.
Rita, Omar and Alex, who also sell products including limited edition fragrances, home diffusers candles and soaps, enjoy talking to shoppers about the different scents and explaining the history behind them.
“We have some very loyal customers and some people do all of their shopping in Bridgnorth and like to support local businesses,” says former nursery nurse, Alex.
It’s been important to Rita to create a welcoming environment where shoppers feel comfortable walking through the doors.
“Sometimes you see shops and think I can’t go in there, it’s too expensive. I didn’t want people to do that here,” she explains.
The team is always looking to expand the range and offer new experiences to customers.
“I love coming up with new concepts, I’m working on foot scrubs at the moment. I like creating something from nothing. I do all the artwork and displays and make the candles and wax melts,” says Rita.
But above all she enjoys helping people find the scent that fits their personality. “Perfume is a very personal thing. It’s like a finger print. Everyone is different and we all like different things. We help people find their signature scent,” says Rita.
“When the personality of the perfume is matched with the personality of the customer, they will be in love,” adds Omar.
The Perfume Laboratory is hosting pop-up shop at Telford Shopping Centre in the run-up to Christmas. For more information see www.facebook.com/theperfumelaboratory