Discovering the Sweet Spot
Inspired by the sublime Cornish Coastline, Land & Water creates natural, sustainable bath and body products to revitalise, uplift and calm.
Pix (short for Pixie) Ashworth was born in Sussex, the smallest of four siblings who thought that Rosamond's name was far too long for a tiny person. After a career in London and Paris, she missed the rural life of her childhood, married a Cornish man and settled on the North Atlantic coast of Cornwall. Here, she created her natural body care range Land & Water, inspired by the giant swell of Cornish waves and the craggy coastline; their products aim to distil the glow of a good holiday, the sweet spot between the invigorating and calm.
Bottling that Holiday High
If you ask a British person about childhood holidays in the UK, many will respond, wet, windy and miserable. Images of eating ice cream in a plastic rain main, paddling in the toe numbing sea, wind whipping your hair in your face as you navigate your way from a tent to the toilet block. But not all British people clamour for a week in the sun and gently lapping tides. Pix Ashworth has loved the harsh British elements from an early age, and childhood holidays are some of her happiest memories. From off-season trips to Newhaven, a coastal town in East Sussex, to the wilds of Scotland, she embraced every outdoor moment.
"As a child, I loved nature. I liked being outside and amongst it. In Scotland, we'd be out in heather up to our thighs, in the freezing rivers. I remember wet jeans in the back of the car; for me, British holidays are full of happy memories."
Cornwall has always had a special place in the UK's heart because of its swelling white, crashing waves, sandy beaches, caves, and meandering clifftop walks. Pix's husband grew up in the Cornish hospitality industry, and they are now based at the family-run Watergate Bay Hotel, Just outside Newquay. Here, Pix experiences the joy of the English holiday up close and the positive effects the surrounding land and sea have on its visitors.
So many makers I have interviewed have a background in the hospitality industry. Is this just a coincidence, or is there a link?
"It's a natural evolution. I take great pleasure in seeing people blowing out the cobwebs, getting amongst the elements and seeing them at their best, seeing them in a happy and relaxed state. I created Land & Water to bottle the glow that people get on holiday, the universal thread running through Land & Water captures that feeling. The feeling you get after swimming in the sea, somewhere between being invigorated and relaxed. We aim to capture that feeling, the sweet spot."
Outside of London, more artists and craftspeople live in Cornwall than almost anywhere else in the UK. From J.M Turner, who compared its light and intense colours to those of the Mediterranean to the St Ives School, including sculptor Barbara Hepworth, who took inspiration from the curves and forms of the natural surroundings.
I wonder if Cornwall is still attracting creatives and traditional artisans?
"Strangely, it's technology that's helping artisans to thrive. People no longer leave Cornwall, less creatives are leaving. It's a vibrant and beautiful place to live. I work with so many talented local people and small agencies in Cornwall: writers, photographers, creative designers and apothecarists."
The design and story behind your brand are intoxicating, but the products are beautifully crafted too.
How do you capture the spirit of your brand in the products?
"It's a long process. First, we meet the apothecarist, Richard, and our starting point is heritage, landscape, and the emotions these bring up. Our products have an emotional story at their heart. Our apothecarist is an artist. He translates the emotions we want to convey. We use citrus to uplift and woody notes for deep calm & restoration. Perfume is like music, made up of notes, and Richard puts the cords together in a vial. Once we are happy with the scent, ex-chef's use their creativity to layer blend and nurture the ingredients."
"The initial scent mixing is simply the first stage in a process that can take two years to complete. Chefs must ensure that the scents are compatible with the three main ingredients of the formula that make up the DNA of all their products.We use three plants that grow in extreme conditions on the threshold of land and water. Our apothecarist has 30 years of experience and sources the highest-grade plants possible for our signature formula."
This signature formula contains Sea buckthorn which grows clinging to rocks. Their berries, also known as golden berries or sea berries, have been used for centuries. Their botanical name, Hippophae rhamoides, derives from the Greek word for 'shining horse' after the ancient Greeks noticed that the horses that ate these berries developed shiner coats. The blend also includes Spike Moss (the resurrection plant) and Samphire, named after the French "Saint Pierre" (Saint Peter), the patron saint of fisherman. Just as dock leaves grow alongside stinging nettles, these plants are beneficial for healing the dry and chapped skin of those weathered by the sea and have been used by fishermen and locals for centuries. It is here that science meets the magic of nature.
"Once the scent is blended with the underlying formula, the product is tested for stability and how it reacts and lasts once bottled. This process takes three to four months before our products are tested by the team and therapists at the hotel. It's a long process, and it usually takes up to two years to be satisfied that the product is ready for market."
Consumers are currently concerned about 'greenwashing', that brands stories are not reflecting their actual practices. How does your company ensure your products are truly sustainable?
"Storytelling is great, but certifications are helpful for the busy customer. Transparency is important. This is why we are working towards our B Corp certification. It's a respected and a well known green light to allow the customer to go ahead and make a purchase in confidence."
Land & Water have been committed to sustainability from the very beginning. Has being a young brand helped?
" The concept for Land & Water started in 2018, and we undertook two years of development & research. There's no right answer; we had to look for solutions that were right for us. It's not easy. We had to look at the packaging pros and cons to see what would work for us.For example, glass is recyclable, but it's energy-intensive to produce and transport. Aluminium is good, but we wanted the consumer to be able to see inside the bottle. We have to balance the aesthetics with concern for the environment, so we've had to make slight sacrifices. But I like a challenge, and challenges are positive because they make you think and get creative."
Land & Water use bottles made from PCR (recycled plastic), and the creative challenge was to make the grey sludge bottles attractive to the consumer. Another challenge was the packaging of their candles. For health and safety reasons, candles must be sold in glass vessels, and they wanted to reduce the impact of this by eliminating further packaging. They created an aluminium lid, a creative solution that was not only sustainable but could be used for other products enabling them to benefit from the economy of scale.
"It's about mixing good business decisions with environmental concerns. But for me, this is not just about business. Sustainability is part of my whole lifestyle, and I get a kick out of buying well."
Chatting to Pix, she obviously loves her work and the coast and landscape that surrounds her. She talks excitedly about the new products in development, a new skin balm for chapped skin, pulse point oils to relax and invigorate. What's clear is that her happiness lies in immersing herself in nature and inviting others to share in the intoxicating and healing benefits of the sea.
"I'm passionate about the sea and access for all, and it's my hope that in the future, Land & Water can give back. People are an essential part of the puzzle."
I want to thank Pix for taking the time out of her busy day to chat with me. If you'd like to experience the sweet spot between exhilaration and calm.