I always like a good story behind a product – something to attest to the genuine enthusiasm of its creator and adding a distinct air of romanticism to your daily bathing routine.
This is a particularly lovely characteristic that only small, bijous brands manage to pull off, it just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it when massive cosmetics companies try to convince you that their latest offering is really the result of their receptionist’s miraculous discovery on a hidden beach in Thailand or born of the flower beds in their back garden – although it makes a nice anecdote. Nope, tales of discovery are the domain of small businesses, and there is no better time to talk about the background of a brand than when it is brand new, such is the case for Urban Rain which launches this month.
The defining feature of Urban Rain is indicated in the name, it is a range of products made using distilled mineral or rain water because of its high mineral content and subsequently gentle but effective moisturising qualities. The brand’s founder, Ben Foster first developed an interest in holistic wellbeing when studying medicine at university and since then has developed a range of vegan, paraben free products with natural colourings, mouth watering scents, and, in my opinion, simply beautiful stories – all coming to a high street near you.
What shines through when talking to Foster is his enthusiasm for what he is creating, having taken six years to develop the product to his specifications. As one of the first people to try the finished thing, I am happy to report they are, in a word, lovely.
But to the stories – Foster is starting by launching four key scents in the form of shower gels and moisturisers at a respectable £12 for a 300 ml bottle: Nettle and Dockleaf, Sun Bleached Coconut Flesh, Rare Black Orchid, and Delicate White Tiger Lily – all with a personal story of inspiration behind them and showcasing the best of their natural sources. My personal favourite was the Rare Black Orchid, which I was assured is the most difficult to produce … a fairly typical state of affairs for me, but I will leave you to make up your own mind which story is most tempting …
Rare Black Orchid: A mythical orchid, this rare flower is not actually black, but a hyper pigmented shade of purple. It is only available in very small quantities at mid/high altitude in Far East Asia, where there is a relatively strong breeze and excellent ventilation, as the orchid has incredible semi-perforated sieve plates in the xylem and phloem vessels, making it capable of producing the delicate essence which Urban Rain has managed to blend with their soap formulation.
Nettle and Dockleaf: Foster grew up in a little village called Lathom and lived in a small house overlooking the Leeds-Liverpool canal. In the height of summer, the air was always filled with the smell of wild white flowering nettles. They were so pretty you wanted to touch them but of course the sting was horrendous, and once that sting takes place, the only ally you have is the bold and dependable dockleaf. From this experience he was inspired to blend these two fragrances together to pleasant, scented effect.
Sunbleached Coconut Flesh: Whilst on holiday in Cape Verde, Foster picked a green coconut off the beach, cracked it open, decanted the coconut water and left the coconut on the beach in direct sunlight. Intrigued at how different the fresh ingredient was compared to the synthetic coconut scents we often find in the shops it once again formed the basis for a natural product of coconut and caramel tones.
Delicate White Tiger Lily: Did you ever watch Disney’s Peter Pan as a child? When Peter Pan is showing the orphans around Neverland he takes them to see the Red Indian tribe. The prized possession of the Chief of the Indians was his daughter – Tigerlily. Foster’s long term memory obviously registered this and when he wanted to create a delicate and feminine fragrance he was drawn to the white Tiger Lily. The lily is very rare, very difficult to cultivate, has a very naive root structure and is incredibly difficult to source, but it was worth it!
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