We’ve all heard the story of Crabtree & Evelyn; a passion for travel, arts and the search for natural-based products. The brand that’s been on the back of everyone’s minds (and shelves) for a few years is making a BIG comeback this year. Forget the soulless creams, the disenchanting packaging and the mindless marketing. Founder Cyrus Harvey’s heritage rightfully returns as we are proud to (re)introduce Crabtree & Evelyn.
From one market to the next, through the years Crabtree & Evelyn lost its passion from its original launch in the 70s. But Global CEO, David Stern, and Chief Brand Officer, Ashley Souza, have joined forces in bringing the brand back to its core values and heritage – adventure, passion, connection and authenticity – with a 2020 twist of course!
We know all about the origin of Crabtree & Evelyn, but we spoke with David and Ashley about the brand today …
How did you personally discover the brand?
Ashley: I always knew of C&E’s existence through its brick and mortar locations and its wholesale partners around the Boston area. However, I was never a customer. As a millennial (albeit, the oldest millennial possible), the brand was too old fashioned for me. The products seemed stale in a saturated market and didn’t offer anything unique enough to convert me. Only when I joined the company, did I discover the true heritage Cy Harvey built the brand upon, which I knew would resonate with my generation if the story was told properly through updates, stories and products.
How does it feel to be ‘relaunching’ such a famous brand and how did the idea come about?
David: The allure of Crabtree & Evelyn lies not in its name or fame; it lies in the brand’s reason for being. C&E was built on the idea that through exploration we connect with others and ourselves, grow through our experiences, and access those experiences every time we touch a product inspired by them. That is an idea which is just as exciting and important today as it was in 1971 when the brand began, and that is the idea which inspires everyone on our team.
We never decided to ‘relaunch the brand’ – we decided to recapture its original proposition for a generation of consumers for whom global exploration and connecting is the lifestyle which also drives them. To do that, we had to start exploring again. We had to walk away from the products of our past explorations and make a step-change in our quality and categories.
How does being a heritage brand shape C&E today 47 years later?
David: Being a heritage brand doesn’t matter if the heritage is not relevant. Our heritage of global exploration and lifestyle-based stories and products is possibly even more relevant today, which makes the fact that we have been doing this for almost half a century an asset.
What do you think makes C&E stand apart from other beauty brands? How would you describe the C&E philosophy in 2020?
Ashley: C&E stood for more than just beauty when it was founded. It stood for more than just cosmetic solutions for surface level concerns. When C&E first launched, it stood for connecting cultures through product, and it will begin doing that in 2020. This year will bring about true resurrection of exploration for growth philosophy. A belief that by exploring other cultures and other natural environments, you in turn grow as a person. Our products are the tangible souvenirs of that growth.
What are some of the new exciting ranges which you have launched?
Ashley: We’ve currently launched three new collections thus far; Evelyn Rose, Crabtree and The Gardener’s. These serve as our core ranges, inspired by our namesake and iconic history.
Evelyn Rose is a reinvention of a historical collection launched by our founder and David Austin, a rosarian that created a brand new species of rose specifically for us. Unfortunately, because the rose itself is extremely difficult to cultivate, we mordernised the fragrance and opted for a woody rose; something complex and less traditional than your typical powdery floral.
Crabtree is a brand new collection inspired by gender neutrality and shareability. This fragrance is my personal favourite. It’s crisp but not too fruity, and the vetiver base notes are just earthy enough. Everyone can use these products – which is the best part. The natural AHA’s are gentle enough for sensitive skin and make for a great everyday use range.
The Gardener’s is a more artisanal, story-led collection. Cy launched our iconic Gardener’s range for just that, those who garden. We wanted to make this well-known franchise into something that the millennial consumer could relate to – curated, customiseable collections packed with powerful ingredients that told a story and inspired by the gardens of the world we’ve explored.
Our newest collection launching in October 2020 is the most exciting for me. It will bring our exploration philosophy to life for our customers in a way it has never been done before.
The founder Cyrus Harvey was dedicated to exploring the world, connecting with people, discovering new ingredients – it’s today’s Crabtree & Evelyn still driven by exploration, passion and connection?
Ashley: Very much so! Our current collections were inspired by our heritage and a global exploration of ingredients, but in the coming months, we will begin telling the story of our true passion, Cy’s original purpose for this brand. Our collection launching in October will bring all of this exploration talk full circle, truly connecting our customers with explorations of other people, cultures, artisans and craft around the world.
Why are global cultures so important to C&E? What impact does it have on the business?
David: We simply believe that exploration and connection with different people and cultures is essential for each of us to grow as individuals, and for all of us to bring our planet closer together. The business is better because of that belief. We gain inspiration from our explorations, the people we meet, the practices and ingredients we find. Our relatively small team represents over 20 different nationalities and we celebrate their own explorations as we learn from them as well.
Tell us a bit more about #BornCuriousGrownWild and your Exploration for Growth Program
Ashley: #BornCuriousGrownWild is our slogan, our hashtag and our way of life. It’s our way of honouring our past while staying true to our future. Cy and C&E were born with great curiosity. We have taken his values and grown wild with our dreams and aspirations of where it could lead us.
Our Exploration for Growth Program encompasses various non-profit organisations we will be partnering with for give back opportunities. We will be working with local connections made during our explorations to identify areas of need and providing a direct giveback from our collections. More to come on this in October!
Beyond utility, what relationship do you want consumers to have with the products?
Ashley: I want the consumers to feel connected when they use our products. Either with themselves, with nature or with another culture. I want our products to create window to the wider world but I also want them to provide a bit of fun (it is beauty after all!).
Now, we have to ask due to the current global situation, how do you think Covid-19 will impact the industry? Do you think brands and consumers will have to take on new measures to adapt to a ‘new norm’?
David: The anti-reaction to globalisation and digital fragmentation have been emergent for several years. We have seen an increase in nationalism, trade barriers and local concerns across the globe. And we have seen a nostalgia for an analogue world of authentic human connection drive an interest in local communities and connections.
In short, Covid-19 may well accentuate these trends and drive more tribalisation and a renewed focus on family and values. Global companies and brands will face a reckoning. The likely winners will be local brands and smaller independent brands based more on values than marketing.
On the longer term, as the nature of the global crisis saturates the collective thought, and the concern over a repeat rises, the importance of connection between cultures and countries may re-emerge as a driving force for internationalism.
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