To mark the launch of our brand-new Aromatherapy range, we sat down with Parks London founder, Carol Symons. We discuss the new collection and discover how it evolved from the best-selling collection of candles and diffusers.
Why develop a completely new Aromatherapy range instead of upgrading or extending the existing range?
Let me track-back a little.
Aromatherapy has been a best-selling range for over a decade, and in the past, each time we’ve changed something - a label design for example - we’ve had a lot of customer pushback. Basically “leave it alone, stop meddling, it’s fine”. Which I completely understand, but over the years there’ve been so many technical changes, advances and you always want to include them - make things better. So, the question was, “without upsetting existing customers who’d been with us for years how do we improve the range?”.
We decided the best way forward was to put down a marker and give customers the choice between what they know and the new. We made trying different fragrances easy by introducing discovery sets straight away - 10 different fragrances in 10 different candles. We didn’t do that until only a year ago with Black Magic and maybe 3 years ago with the Vintage Aromatherapy range. It’s a simple, really affordable way to try the different fragrances in all the collections.
What’s the difference between Vintage Aromatherapy and the new Aromatherapy range you just introduced?
Basically, the new Aromatherapy range has brand new fragrances, the latest blending techniques, coreless cleanburn technology, different labelling - that kind of thing. Whereas the Aromatherapy range that everybody knows and has been using for the last ten years is now called Vintage Aromatherapy. It’s made in the same way we’ve always made it, the fragrances are exactly the same and we’ve incorporated changes wherever we could to improve it but without anything noticeable.
Well, the giftbox looks the same but has the latest construction methods. Or something like coreless cleanburn technology, which doesn’t change the character of the fragrance, just gives you a much better burn so we’re using that in both ranges. Actually, we always use the latest version in all our ranges. Similar thing with diffusers, the fragrance dispersion technology is always improving so behind the scenes, we’re always improving on the reeds or the fragrance carrier. You’d be surprised how much time that takes.
Can you explain that a little more?
It’s always a balancing act with candles and diffusers. Let’s say there’s a new reed or little trick you find with the carrier (the liquid the fragrance is in). We’re committed to alcohol-free diffusers so there are some limitations. When you start using a new reed, you can find some ingredients perform differently, so you may reduce that particular ingredient but now you’ve changed the character of the scent, so you fool around with it a little more, perhaps adding something else or substituting. It’s a non-stop process of evolution.
How do you cope with constant evolution?
It takes a lot of work. We’ve three laboratories and they’re constantly busy not just developing new ideas, but also refining, evolving. Testing new ideas in existing candles, diffusers, room sprays. I suppose the real answer to your question, “how do you cope” is passion. I don’t think anyone in our team could do what we do without being passionate about it.
Have you got a favourite fragrance in the new range?
That’s like asking if you’ve got a favourite child. So much effort goes into making any fragrance you end up having feelings for all of them. I’d love to understand the secret of why Lime, Basil & Mandarin’s popularity, or Parks Original. Right now, I’m using Tobacco & Leather at home from the new range - and I’m a little in love with the way that makes you feel - wonderfully warm and comforting.
But actually, the fragrances we’ve got planned next always excite me the most. I remember reading an Enzo Ferrari biography and when asked what his favourite car was he said, “it’s always the next one”. That resonated, I understand where he’s coming from. Ferrari has a long list of world-class, championship-winning cars to choose from - but he’s excited about the next.
So, what is next?
We’re just getting ready to launch a new range in January at the Maison & Object show in Paris. A very modern, clean look with really focussed fragrances - there are only five in the range. It was originally inspired by a field trip around Asia. Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam in January of this year. We’ve just about finished burn testing everything, a little fine-tuning to do.
Focused on what? What’s the range called?
Focused on getting it right. This range is a real change. We’ve never done anything quite like it. Afraid I can’t tell you the name and I’ve probably already said too much.
The launch is in January so as soon as possible, we’ll post some more news.
Click here to discover the brand new Aromatherapy range from Parks London for yourself.