April 19, 2018
The search for the perfect gift may be frustrating for some, but for Tajinder Banwait, Founder and Managing Director of Urban Apothecary London, it sparked an idea: to create a first-of-its-kind decorative candle business… which would go on to become a cult home fragrance brand. “It was whilst on maternity leave when searching for the perfect gift for a friend that I realised that there was a gap in the market for candles that not only smelled beautiful but that were housed in beautiful vessels,” Tajinder says. And so, Urban Apothecary London was born. Launching with a mere 10 products, the complete range now boasts over 100 items with beautiful hand poured candles and diffusers in stunning, often unexpected scent combinations all encased in chic, handmade vessels that continue to make the perfect gift.
We sat down with Tajinder ahead of the exclusive launch of the brand with MU Australia to talk about the candles, scent, and the smell of babies hair...
When you were a child, what did you want to be?
I wanted to be an entrepreneur so it’s definitely related to what I’m doing now! I was brought up in a very entrepreneurial family and so I think it was natural progression for me to start my own business.
Where did your love affair with scent begin?
It really began when I was 16 years old. I was offered a part-time job at a leading department store selling Calvin Klein’s first unisex fragrance and I fell in love with fine fragrance there. Fragrance is so powerful – it can take you back to a childhood memory and instantly set the mood - that’s what makes it so fascinating.
What makes the Urban Apothecary brand so special?
Urban Apothecary is hand poured and crafted by skilled artisans in the UK. We use natural based ingredients including soy wax and a glycerin base for our diffusers and we also use high percentages of fragrance where many other brands in the market don’t. I’m also really proud of launching our own factory in 2014 as this gave us the opportunity to develop the brand in-house and to follow our own path.
Tell us about the first scent you created?
It was in 2011 and it was called Peony Rose. It’s still in our range today although it’s now called Velvet Peony. Fragrance is so subjective so when developing fragrance I develop scents I personally love, but that I know will add to our range as a whole.
What is the best smell in the world to you?
The scent of a babies head/hair. Nothing beats that, and it’s so unique to the baby.
Is there any smell you don’t like?
I dislike the scent of pine, it really doesn’t get me excited.
What scent do you like in your own home?
At home I burn all of the fragrances we sell - it’s important for me to experience each one in different rooms to ensure I’m happy with its performance. My favourites are Fig Tree, Oudh Geranium, Coconut Grove and Oriental Noir. I used to burn candles from other brands but as a manufacturer of candles I find it hard to buy from others as we have such a good range of scents to suit every mood!
What’s one thing we could all learn about fragrance?
The one thing I do when creating fragrance is to use fresh coffee beans to neutralise the palate. It’s one of those things that we all need to know.
Fast Five… with Tajinder Banwait
Get to know the woman behind the brand
On my bedside table is… a legal document that is very long but something I need to read. I also have a selection of books to read to my baby.
One thing that would surprise people about you is… that I’m super intuitive and have a sixth sense.
I’m currently binge-watching… Oooh! I recently binge watched “The Crown” on Netflix as it’s loosely based on events that the Queen of England has experienced…very addictive!
My brunch order is… Eggs Benedict and a skinny latte although I’m much more a tea person than coffee. My tea of choice is always homemade Indian tea made with black tea leaves, cardamom and fennel with a hint of cinnamon, boiled in whole milk.
My favourite quote…. It’s a quote by Oprah Winfrey.
“Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.”
Follow the brand on insta @urbanapothecarylondon