Who: Sarah McCubbin, founder of pebble&co, beauty and fragrance consultancy. As well as having impeccable taste, Sarah’s consultancy has helped create some of the best smelling beauty brands around today, including Bamford, Firmdale Hotels, Hush and Gieves & Hawkes. We visited her stylish London offices to pick her brains for tips on how to smell good and came aways with a long shopping list of things we now want….
As soon as I smell parsley, particularly flat leaf parsley, it take me straight back to being four or five in my grandmother’s back garden in Melbourne, playing hide and seek. She had this vegetable patch with an enormous parsley bush and I’d go and hide in there and eat the parsley.
The other strong memory from childhood is a combination of 4711 fragrance and Elnet hairspray. It reminds me of being tucked up in bed and my mum coming to give me a kiss goodnight and I remember even now, that slight sense of excitement and apprehension, because it meant they were going out and I was left with a babysitter.
Scent is part of my wardrobe, it’s a personal reflection of who I am and I tend to mist it on generously. I get a lot of satisfaction of getting wafts of what I’m wearing. People often say ‘you smell amazing’ and I like that.
I also layer fragrance, both on me and at home. I don’t have any rules, I just pick fragrances that work together for me. I often want an element of something deep and rich, but then I want liven and lighten it up a bit so I often burn two candles at the same time at home because I like having fragrance change as you walk through different spaces in a room.
In my house I use diffusers, they aren’t my first choice of fragrance usage, but I find them incredibly useful, it’s more practical than having to burn candles all the time. I tuck them away so you can’t see them.
Archipelago makes fabulous home fragrance. My favourite is called Jasmine which has tuberose and lily of the valley in there. I have it in my bathroom and whenever I catch a little waft, it makes me smile. I also have Côtes du Rhône, a very rich, deep, burgundy with berries and a little smoke in it. I use that in the downstairs cloakroom, it makes it feel cosy.
Even though fragrance is invisible, it has a strong presence and it provides a additional dimension to any experience. For a hotel brand, fragrance provides that little piece of memory that guests can take away with them. Often the first thing people do when they arrive in their room is go into the bathroom to see what they have. Will I want to quickly squirrel it away the fabulous products in my suitcase and hope housekeeping will come back and refill it? Or will I bring out what I brought with me? It says so much about the experience the guest could have.
We created a Eucalyptus & Lavender Pillow Mist for the Rik Rack range for Kit Kemp and the Firmdale Hotel chain. It has that lovely softness of lavender and a spiky green-ness from the eucalyptus. After a busy day, I mist the bed sheets and I don’t know if it really does help make me sleep better, but I love the whole ritual. It’s quite aromatic, the hotel does little baby bottles that they put on the pillows at turn down each night.
Fragrance is so personal and subjective, there are no rules, it’s all about what the individual likes and what resonates with them. We start the conversation with clients by saying, ‘what do you love and what do you wear? Is it earl grey tea in the morning, a fresh orange?’ Then we go through an extensive profiling exercise with them, it’s a wonderful journey.
My husband and I share Astier de Villatte’s Eau de Cologne. I bought it for him and it reminds me of a beautiful citrus grove on the Positano Coast. I don’t often gravitate towards citrus fragrances but I absolutely love the freshness of this one. It’s quite spiky and acidic and I tend to wear it for summer. My husband wears it out for dinner, which feels appropriate too, he smells delicious in it.
A new fragrance for me is La Galion Tubereuse, there’s La Rose as well and for a week I had one on one wrist and one on the other, sniffing between the two. I finally decided on Tubereuse. I love a big, fresh white floral – my wedding bouquet had tuberose, I love it- and this is a big fragrance, although not too overpowering. It’s summery with a green note, like cut grass –or maybe it’s parsley! I like to layer it with richer berry fragrances, I’ve been wearing it with a fragrance we’re doing for a client that has a lot of deep fruity and mossy tones and I love the weight of that with the Tubereuse to lift it.
If you want an incredibly indulgent candle, then this Love Light Laughter one we created with Bamford has a wonderful fragrance. It’s a rich rock rose with spicy notes and berry notes. I try and open the windows a little bit, even in winter, for a through breeze. It provides a blank canvas to any scent and can lift any scent you apply.
For more on Sarah and her work, see pebble&co’s website