A brand rooted in natural perfumery and aromatherapy, Lovorika embraces ancient wisdom, old world magic and new world vegan sustainable luxury. Co-founder Daphna Rowe shares how she, along with partner Jason, are challenging the perfume industry through transparency and ethical practices.
What inspired you to launch Lovorika?
A few years ago my husband and I moved into a house in Walthamstow. I had an allergic reaction to the house! It sounds crazy, but it’s true. It could have been the paint, the carpet, we couldn’t figure it out. My lips swelled up, and my face blew up in red, itching hives, so I was rushed to A&E. They put me on steroids, which helped, but I obviously didn’t want to live on steroids. A local shop keeper recommended the Chinese herbalist on the high street. They gave me acupuncture and herbal teas. In one week, it was gone. Fascinated, I decided to read up on Herbalism. This led to studying Aromatherapy (and becoming certified), which led to natural perfumery. Coming from both an artistic (music) and academic (Psychology and International Relations) background, creating perfumes was the first time the left and right side of my brain were equally stimulated. It was love at first sniff and I knew we were meant to be together (I’m here all week folks!)
What are your sustainable priorities for the business?
I honestly didn’t start Lovorika with the mission of being ethical or sustainable. I started from a purely creative place. But I quickly realised I already was ethical and sustainable by virtue of how I live and create. Saving the world (directly) is not our goal. Helping you love your own little world a bit more, is. When we’re happier, we’re kinder. And this has a ripple effect which is the purest form of activism.
How has your eco strategy developed as you have grown?
As the company has grown, our due diligence for sustainability has become more intentional. Sustainability is a big issue in natural perfumery. How can we use natural resources without exploiting a land or a culture? Poachers don’t just poach animals for skins, there are poachers who will pillage a land for its natural resources often with the goal to sell to the essential oils and natural botanicals market. We therefore research where our botanicals are sourced. For example, as Indian Sandalwood is being threatened in the wild, we purchase ours from the Vanuatu Sandalwood Project. Vanuatu is an island in the South Pacific where local families harvest the trees and it benefits the people of the village. Our frankincense comes from a Somalian Cooperative project committed to granting small, local stakeholders both access and control on the frankincense market which otherwise would be in the hands of the usual big operations.
How challenging has it been to maintain your eco principles?
The most challenging thing has been to find an atomiser that does not have the standard plastic tube attached – we might need to create our own! We’re still perfecting our packaging as well. We’re trying to keep it minimal but still ensure the bottles are protected.
What have been your biggest milestones and triumphs until now?
The first milestone was discovering we could use dry oil as the carrier for our fragrance. It provides the health benefits of an oil (hydrating and moisturising the skin), with the non-greasy tactility of a spray. And being called “the scent of the future” by Be Kind magazine was definitely a nice triumph!
Our latest milestone that I am very proud of is our bottle refill initiative. Customers can return empty bottles to us and get 10% off their next order. We then clean and reuse the bottles.
What have been the main prohibitors to your progress in building a sustainable business?
The lack of transparency in a largely self-regulated fragrance industry is our greatest prohibitor. We’re David up against Goliath. Our mission is to raise awareness about the toxic chemicals in most fragrances and help consumers decode misleading labels.
You have recently partnered with Street Angels UK to launch a crowd funding campaign – what do you hope to achieve and how can people get involved?
Frank is a homeless guy in my neighbourhood that I talk to regularly. When I told him what I do he asked if I had any patchouli to spare because he “didn’t want to smell”. Of course I had patchouli to spare so I made him a body oil that I refill regularly. He loves it! I want more homeless men and women to feel dignified. We all deserve that.
The immediate goal is to make 100 bottles that Street Angels can distribute in London. The long term goal is to do it monthly and extend it throughout the UK. Maybe even inspire similar campaigns globally!
People can make donations on our crowdfunding page and please share: justgiving.com/crowdfunding/scent-the-streets
What advice would you give to anyone hoping to launch a sustainable business?
Do it for the love. Focus on your passion and what you have to offer. Even if other people are selling something similar there is only one YOU. Do it for the love and the rest will fall into place.
Which other sustainable businesses have inspired you?
We’re inspired by fashion label Gung-Ho. Their “food for thought” series is so well researched and incredibly informative. And of course I love their clothes. When Sophie (the founder) asked us to collaborate, we were thrilled! We’re releasing an organic pesticide-free fragrance together in November.