With more than a decade of experience beautifying high-profile clients as a freelance makeup artist in the heart of London, Arabella Preston teamed up with entrepreneur Charlotte Semler on Votary, which stemmed from a passion for the power of plant oils and botanical actives that allow our skin to perform.
Staying true to its humble beginnings with the brand conceived at her kitchen table, Arabella still personally blends and tests the formulas herself for unwavering quality and efficacy. She spoke to us about these beautiful resources provided to us by nature and how the brand collectively curbs carbon emissions.
Besides spotlighting botanical ingredients within each product, how else is the brand connecting to nature?
Pure plant oils are at the heart of everything we make, and essential oils are used in many of our products. These aromatherapeutic oils help you to check-in with your emotions.
Our emotions are at the heart of our overall well-being. Nurturing how we feel emotionally is as important as physical wellness. Pure plant essential oils can help re-balance and reconnect mind and body and bring us back to nature. Our sense of smell is deeply interwoven with our memories and well-being. Linking the right fragrance with the right emotion can have a transformative effect.
With agricultural commodities being a pivotal factor to global tree cover loss, what do you think independent brands can do to curb further damage?
We are proud that Votary is a vegan brand. We take sustainability and our impact on the plant seriously, and we always strive to be more sustainable.
At Votary, we produce all our products in small batches. We cold-press and bottle almost all of our oils onsite at a family farm in England. This reduces the steps in our supply chain, and so lowers our carbon footprint.
Keeping supply chains and production as local as you can is the most sustainable process independent brands can take.
Until today you still personally blend and test the formulas yourself. Why is that?
It’s really how it all started and is still the most fun! I am ingredients obsessed and really enjoy the process of creating a new product. It’s important to me to be passionate about the products I produce, which is why I am still so hands-on.
Having said that, the brand has come a long way since the early days of sitting at my kitchen table! We now work with some very brilliant labs and chemists who have helped us develop our non-oil products.
Which product from your brand do you identify as your holy grail suited for all seasons?
Our award-winning Rose Geranium and Apricot Cleansing Oil is still our best-selling product. It is much loved by customers, beauty editors and makeup artists around the world. It was the first product I created and is generally where I recommend people to start their Votary journey. It suits all skin types and removes every trace of makeup (even waterproof mascara) and SPF. As our cleansing oils don’t contain emulsifiers, they won’t sting and irritate your eyes. I am adamant that if you get the cleansing stage of skincare right, the rest will fall into place.
How do you address conscious living in your everyday life?
I try to shop locally wherever possible. I’m lucky to live in Kent, which is known as ‘the garden of England’. Every village has a farm shop selling locally-grown produce, and in the summer, farms open up to allow you to pick your own fruits and vegetables, which the children adore.
My husband and I are keen gardeners and a bit obsessed with composting! We are always thinking about how we can encourage wildlife and biodiversity into our garden.
I love travelling, but I think the past year has definitely taught us all that we often travelled unnecessarily. Although I miss it, it’s been a silver lining learning that we can continue to grow Votary and reach our customers without always meeting face-to-face.
What are you looking forward to the most as the year unfolds?
In no particular order: restaurants, friends, spas, cinema, shops, family and HUGS!
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