We popped into the beautiful Brummells store at the Ham Yard Village recently and caught up with founder Mark Arnell on beginnings of the brand, the stunning gold centrepiece pineapple (which we just love!) and the brands he works with.
How did the Brummells brand begin?
I have always had a great interest in personal care. I began my journey by looking to create a line of products. Initial research led me to ingredient manufacturer’s, product formulators, brand consultants, etc. I quickly learnt that there was a sizeable gap in the knowledge that I had and that required to launch a successful product line. My network at the time only consisted of finance contacts. My response was to launch a retail business to learn the market, with the target of having a route to market with which to launch a product line when the opportunity is right.
The brand takes its’ name from Beau Brummell. A society gentleman of exquisite taste from Regency period London. He is credited with being the founding father of the modern day suit and he was noted for his daily ablutions. His valet would leave his bedroom door ajar so that gentlemen of the day could come and watch him wash, shave and dress. That he bathed daily in hot water and washed every part of his body, was considered at the time quite remarkable.
“He ruled over the tastes and pursuits of the well heeled and influential.” Ian Kelly
How has the concept changed from online to store?
The shop in Ham Yard is a very exciting development. As an online only retailer, launching a bricks and mortar store has allowed us to bring our brand and the offering that we curate online, to life. It is the tangible embodiment of the Brummells brand. The concept is very much the same, bringing exquisite picks from around the world and sharing them with our customers. The true change is that the customer experience is now tangible.
Beauty and fragrance is a very tactile market. Customers want to be able to touch, smell and feel products before they purchase for the first time. This is especially relevant for us as we work with a lot of limited distribution brands so much of our offering will be new to the customer. It is fantastic therefore to be able to offer a touch point where customers can engage with our products in person.
In order to adequately represent the exquisite nature of the brand, the environment and design of the store was very important to us. We took a bold and singular approach to create a shop environment that is unique and a little different. Shopping shouldn’t just be about large generic department store environments. If the customer has taken the time to visit in store, it should reflect who and what the brand is. For us we wanted it to be unique, quirky and interesting; but at all times exquisite!
In store, we offer an edited collection from our complete online offering. It presents our brands with a stage to showpiece the very best from our range. It is also constantly changing. We are bringing in new products and brands; and we are also responding directly to our local customers who have come in to request specific products from our collection.
Why did you decide to open the first Brummells store in the Ham Yard Village?
Ham Yard presented us with a fantastic opportunity to work with a landlord, in Firmdale, who is as passionate about brand as we are. All of the retailers here have been hand picked to create a unique shopping destination. It is the perfect synergy.
Ham Yard Hotel attracts a very dynamic forward thinking clientele of all ages. Individuals who care about the provenance of the brands and services that they enjoy. Individuals who take pleasure in going off the beaten track to find something a little different to what might be normally found on the high street. These are our perfect customers.
With the hotel in close proximity, customers can come and do a spot of shopping at one of the beautiful boutiques and finish off with afternoon tea or a cocktail at the bar in the evening.
Firmdale have a phenomenal track record of revitalising and adding to the regeneration of specific areas around London. Hotels such as Charlotte Street and Number Sixteen have added a huge amount of value to their locality.
Ham Yard Village is also extremely well positioned. It has the unique accolade of being situated seconds from Piccadilly Circus – one of the busiest and most iconic locations in London – whilst also inhabiting the grande dame that is Soho.
We love the incredible brass pineapple, the centrepiece of the store – what does this represent and where was it made?
The pineapple has a great connection to our own ethos. Many years ago the pineapple was a rare and exquisite item that was hand picked from around the world and brought back home. This is how we see our own brands and products.
Kings and Queens would send off their navies to far away lands in order to bring back exotic discoveries. The pineapple was a fantastic symbol of these impressive adventures.
Pineapples remained extremely expensive to purchase and throughout the Regency period they were often hired for dinner parties to be displayed as centre pieces to demonstrate wealth and good taste. A lovely fit for our Beau Brummell namesake.
Finally the pineapple has long been a sign of welcome. Sea captains would display a pineapple outside their home to show that they were home from their travels and as a sign to come in and share in the stories of their latest adventures.
The crowning piece to our pineapple, is the brass leaves that adorn the top. We worked with a wonderful agency in London and an artisan design foundry, located in the verdant farms on the outskirts of New Delhi. They were incredibly skilled artisans and we have filmed the making of the piece to be released on our new journal coming soon online.
How do you choose the brands in the store?
We love beautiful products with beautiful stories and every brand choice and relationship garnered is unique. It is an absolute pleasure to be able to work with brands and their founders who are either passionately bringing something new to the world or carefully maintaining a rich heritage. There is no exact science to selection, only a connected passion.
Are you planning to expand?
Absolutely. Watch this space.