A return to simpler times
Tracey Woodward, director of strategy and innovation at Modern Botany, explains why creating products with longevity is at the heart of the brand’s ethos
INThere’s an old Irish saying: ‘Enough and no waste is as good as a feast.’ There are hundreds of Irish sayings about living within your means and not being wasteful. As a nation, the Irish were experts at living frugally.
Before there were high-street shops, there was a litany of cobblers, blacksmiths, seamstresses and tailors. Of course, there were clothes and shoe shops, but these were places that were visited when old clothes were beyond repair. Somewhere along the way, the drive of consumerism kicked in with the dawn of ‘must have more’ and, now, we find ourselves once again trying to curtail our ways and return to simpler times.
Modern Botany’s co-founder, John Murray, is a pioneer of sustainability, always keeping an eye on the why of products to ensure that everything is purposeful and worthy of people’s time and investment. Coming from a family of six on a small farm in North Cork, John was brought up to appreciate what he had. Receiving hand-me-downs from older siblings and watching his parents repair what was broken to make it last longer is still, he says, one of the best life lessons he received in investing in things that were made to last.
At the same time, across the water in Lincolnshire, John’s co-founder, Simon Jackson, was being brought up by his mother’s motto to buy once and buy well – something he has carried with him all his life. Simon is known to be caught with a darning needle to bring new life to some of his most well-worn and loved garments, which always last the test of time. Later, his years of expeditions to discover the power of plants from tribes in far-off lands meant only packing things that could multitask and would last the journey.
When John and Simon moved to Ireland in the winter of 2015, they brought with them these experiences and a desire to found a conscious personal-care brand that would appeal to both women and men who saw the value in quality natural products. They saw a gap in the market for meaningful products that could be used in a variety of ways by the whole family and would not cost the earth. The basis for the brand would be built on science, nature and an honesty that was missing. They did not want to add to the litany of more products for the sake of it and understood that consumers wanted to be spoken with in an authentic way – and thus Modern Botany was born.
Since then, the brand has remained true to its mission of going back to the basics of high-quality ingredients expertly formulated and consciously packaged, leaving nothing to waste. What you invest in should be functional – this was the inspiration behind Modern Botany Oil, for example, which has countless uses for the entire family, from body oil to cleanser, bath oil to hair oil. While sustainability has become a well-known term in the beauty and fashion industry over the past couple of years, it is the mission of Modern Botany to walk the talk and lead the way while doing so. Rather than launching new products every season, Dr Simon works hard behind the scenes to formulate products that have the ability to make a positive difference to the lives of our customers. It’s time to return to the simpler ways of living and buying, and to be more mindful of where our products come from. Shelves full of products with no real purpose should be a thing of the past – we need to use the best of what we have to the last. Which brings to mind another old Irish saying: ‘The life of an old hat is to cock it.’ That is, there are always ways to repurpose or use that which is valuable.