Craftsmanship, traceability, heritage: soothing music to the ears of any retail-savvy consumer, and qualities valued as a welcome antidote to the mass-produced, mass-marketed fodder we are confronted with in today’s advertising-driven economy. To celebrate these attributes we have highlighted three Trouva boutiques whose inspiring vision and dedication to their craft, or specialist product, result in objects uniquely conceived and executed, that can truly claim to have been made with love.
If you are ever in the historic market town of Lewes, East Sussex, don’t be surprised if you find yourself drawn to a quiet corner of Western Road. The subtle aroma emanating from the door, the pretty bottles lining the shelves, and the ambiguous copper machinery that inhabits the shop front, draw in passersby keen to discover what alchemy resides within.
A.S Apothecary is a small batch distillery with a focus on locally sourced organic ingredients that are used to create hand-made skin care products. Owner Amanda Saurin – the eponymous apothecary and a homeopath – oversees every part of production from the harvesting of the ingredients in Sussex, Cyprus and Scotland, to the distilling process which takes place in a local barn, and finally the creation of the products themselves downstairs at the shop.
Hero products are the First Aid Kit balms – silky resins that melt into the skin without leaving a greasy residue. Favourites are Bite & Sting, Calm & Tranquil, and – a predicted bestseller as we approach cold and flu season – Breathe & Clear. If you find it hard to decide which healing balm you’re most in need of, try the starter pack which has all six.
The apothecary prides itself on not including a single unnecessary ingredient in their range, allowing the powerful elements to speak for themselves. For those not ready to commit to a new skin care regime, there is the clever ‘Little Box of Indulgence Skin Care Set’, four products beautifully presented in miniature along with the locally hand-crocheted face cloth, that are certain to whet your appetite.
Ayten Gasson is a Brighton-based boutique that designs and makes its own luxury lingerie and nightwear. Situated in the seven dials, the shop itself opened in 2016 and was designed as a calm, neutral space to allow the prints and fabrics in the designs to really stand out.
Designer Ayten Roberts – a graduate of Central Saint Martin’s – grew up with a heritage rich in fashion production; her mother was a seamstress for Arcadia in the 1930s and her grandmother worked in a north London factory producing garments. When Ayten finished her degree she was disappointed to discover just how many UK factories had closed as manufacturers sought to lower their costs and moved production overseas.
With the help of the Prince’s Trust Ayten launched her label with a commitment to supporting other UK businesses, highlighting the traditional skills which the country was once celebrated for. The vintage lace trims come from old mills in Nottingham, and the new English lace is sourced from Derbyshire mill Cluny, who made the lace used in Kate Middleton’s wedding dress in 2011. Each piece is then produced either in the studio at the shop, or elsewhere in the UK.
For lingerie devotees, the exquisitely pretty ‘Emma Silk Teddy’ is a must with its delicate satin shoulder ties and lace-trimmed edges. For those who prefer to have a bit of fun with their underwear the pretty ‘Mabel’ bra and pants set has been crafted from a soft Liberty of London cotton, with lace from the aforementioned Cluny Lace Company.
Good & Proper Tea
Emilie Holmes, founder of Good & Proper tea in Clerkenwell, is on a mission to share her passion for tea. The business started life operating from a converted 1974 Citroen-H van that Kickstarter backers affectionately named ‘Watson’. Initially stationed at Granary Square in King’s Cross, Watson later went mobile, distributing tea to hungover festival-goers up and down the country. Now, however, the company’s roots are firmly established in Clerkenwell’s famous Leather Lane.
Tea-lovers are woefully underserved by the British high street, a curious fact, given that big brand coffee chains and small independents are ten to the dozen. It’s precisely this gap that Emilie and her team want to fill. They consider themselves curators, bringing to their shelves a select range of assam, matcha, and rooibos (amongst others), from all over the world, and teaching customers how to make the perfect cup, and even the perfect cocktail – Darjeeling Earl Grey Sour anyone?
The shop stocks a thoughtful selection of accessories and gifts to ensure customers can achieve high quality cuppas from the comfort of their own homes. If you enjoy the ritualistic element of tea making the Tish Antique Teapot is the perfect addition to your shelves. For minimalists who come out in a rash when confronted by the garish herbal tea packages you find in supermarkets, the beautifully simple ‘Herbal Tea Collection Set’ contains the only six infusions you’ll ever need.