There are quite a few things about the New Zealand scent company Ashley & Co that had us sitting right up in our chairs. With their clean, fuss-free designs, environmentally friendly packaging, curated scent offerings — not your generic cloying rose and vanilla variety — and even the typography on their labels, we are pleased as punch that their products are now available in Singapore. They offer a selection of six discerningly formulated scents running through their range of candles, body products and diffusers.
Fair warning from us: Lighting an Ashley & Co candle is likely to ignite an unparalleled loyalty to both their scents and label (Tui & Kahili had us at first whiff). Read on for our interview with Ben and Jackie Ashley, as they take us through the birth of their brainchild, and shed light on how your favourite Ashley & Co scent can assimilate itself into your lifestyle in more ways than one, and become your signature fragrance.
Tell us about Ashley & Co's beginnings. Was there a significant turning point or event that pushed you in this direction?
Jackie: Like a lot of small businesses, Ashley & Co started with a need to do something more — something for yourself, and thinking ahead, something that you can grow while growing a family. The home fragrance market here at the time was limited to room sprays and mainly paraffin based candles, and there were limited choices of soy wax candles. In the USA, home diffusers were starting to gain ground in this competitive market and was a product we hadn't seen here yet. We set out to formulate our own version of the diffuser. We wanted a product that worked really well, and with great scent throw. It took us a year, and with Ben's background in graphic design, we developed a product that we loved and could take to market.
It's been 10 years since the start. What would you say is your biggest achievement to date?
Jackie: Our first couple of pellets, full of stock, labelled Singapore, was an exciting milestone.
Ben: Each product that we have brought to market has given immense satisfaction and reward. It's the fact that people are out there using and enjoying it, and ultimately becoming a part of our Society.
And also, the biggest challenge?
Ben: Time is constantly a juggle. We have multiple roles within the business and we are consciously mindful of doing things well. Do it once and do it right!
Jackie: As we're both in the same business, managing family and commitments can work to our advantage. However at busy times, naturally it can be challenging.
You've mentioned that Ashley & Co is environmentally aware. What steps have been taken to ensure sustainability and giving back?
Ben: All our products have been sampled and formulated here in New Zealand and we are continuously mindful of the ingredients that go into our products. Our new outer packaging is fully recyclable and biodegradable, and our Wax Perfume candle is from an ethical and sustainable source. We offer 1 litre top-ups to refill your 500ml Wash Up Bottles, and have begun an initiative encouraging and offering people ways to reuse their vessels of Wax Perfume and components of Home Perfume.
What would you say is your unique selling point is?
Jackie: Although our range is small, it is diverse. One scent can run through five of our products from a candle and diffuser to a hand cream and handwash. If you have a scent you love it can become part of your every day both at home and away. Our scents are aimed at being part of your lifestyle — they are not just a gift shop go-to.
Ben: Our scents transcend boundaries between private and public use — public in the form of hospitality and corporate environments.
Lastly, since you are in the scent business, we are curious to know what your personal scents are.
Jackie: I love to sample and try new scents. I have an array to suit my mood and occasion, but at the moment I adore the sensual and vetiver based scent Bal d'Afrique by Byredo.
Ben: Currently I'm wearing an amber-y interpretation: Eau Profonde by Third Man.
Ashley & Co products are available for purchase online here, and at kapok NDC, 111 Middle Road #01-05