Amanda Connock on launching her own beauty and fragrance company

Amanda still works from her family home near Ringwood

Amanda still works from her family home near Ringwood - Credit: Archant

With her father’s legacy to continue, Ringwood based Amanda Connock had a lot to prove when she launched her own beauty and fragrance company, Connock London, says Elizabeth Kirby

Amanda's products have a kukuoi oil base which originates from Hawaii

Amanda's products have a kukuoi oil base which originates from Hawaii - Credit: Archant

Amanda Connock and I have something in common from the off, we both have fond memories of concocting perfumes and rose waters from the collection of herbs and flowers in our childhood gardens. My dabble in cosmetics purely a juvenile pastime…Amanda has gone on to develop her own range of products, put them to market and is now enjoying great success under Connock London. But then my Dad wasn’t Alan Connock – the master behind cosmetic suppliers A&E Connock.

“I was brought up in the New Forest near Fordingbridge, and, as children, my brother and I would blend our own fragrances from Dad’s old samples of perfume and make our own floral waters in buckets in the garden shed”, she shares. “He loved fragrance and nature and travel and as naturals became more fashionable, brands were looking for something a bit different and he started working with some big names in London, supplying their ingredients.”

As a young girl enthralled by her father’s enthusiasm for sourcing natural products, it wasn’t long before Amanda was having a go herself - blending the sometimes exotic ingredients found in her Dad’s workshop, and creating her own products to sell back to her parents for pocket money.

“Dad would come home from travelling abroad with all these amazing oils and speciality ingredients, having learnt what they are used for in their native countries. I used to spend a lot of time in his office - I was always probably the most interested in what he did.”

Out of the five Connock children, Amanda and her older brother were the two that joined the family business following completion of their degrees – Amanda’s in business at Bristol University. For five years she worked alongside her father learning about the business, sourcing ingredients and getting to know the customers until tragedy struck and her father passed away. She recalls: “Suddenly he was just taken out of our family, but also out of the business – it was very unexpected and my brother and I had to work very hard over the next two years to keep up the momentum, and keep everyone’s faith in the next generation.”

Despite always thinking she wanted to take over the business from her father, at the age of 26, Amanda was left to continue, with her brother, to keep A&E Connock afloat. She explains: “We were very young and although we succeeded with the business, which is still running today, I realised I wanted to go off on my own and do my own thing. I’m very much like my Dad in that respect.”

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Realising she had no experience in the industry from the other side, she moved to London and worked for brands such as Crabtree and Evelyn and Bamford to gain some knowledge on what it was like to market these products that A&E Connock had been supplying the ingredients to for all those years.

With her passion for products and obsession for cosmetics, Amanda’s dream to launch her own range became a reality when at the age of 30, Connock London was born.

“I always had a very clear idea of what I wanted my range to be, and what I wanted the brand to be. The whole story is based on my heritage in the industry and experience with the ingredients. Each range that we launch, I wanted to be based on one key ingredient from different parts of the world…with the packaging and the marketing inspired by that country of origin.”

With an upfront approach to the ingredients she was using, Amanda was able to bring a bit of her father’s legacy in to her own business. As she explains: “It’s very important for me to be able to tell my customers the source of the ingredients – where they come from and why we use them.”

With the help of one of the top chemists in the country, John Woodruff, and support from her family’s company and the many suppliers she had built contacts with over the years, Amanda was in safe hands when it came to the launch of her business.

“I was very lucky to have had such wonderful connections. Because of my family’s history, manufacturers were very lenient with me and allowed me to create a small run initially.”

Although from the outset John did everything he could to dissuade Amanda from entering in to such a competitive industry (“He was like a father figure role, he’d been friends with my family for years, and didn’t want to see me fail.”), her commitment to the brand was already established and she wasn’t about to give up that easily.

Starting off small with just one range consisting of ten products, John and Amanda formulated each product, but then staggered the launch of those products over the course of the past four years so that the brand slowly grew organically – rather than showcasing all the products at once.

“When we very first launched we had five body care products, and then grew to include home fragrance and a wonder balm”, she explains. “The range is based on Hawaiian kukuoi oil, of which my family are the sole distributors. It holds special memories for me as when I was 11 we all went with Dad out to Hawaii, which was really amazing as it was our first exotic holiday as a whole family. Dad had come across this tiny producer of kukuoi oil who were looking to expand overseas and so we all went out to visit them, taking us up to the mountains and showing us how the nuts are harvested – it is such a beautiful place.”

Amanda and her family were shown how the oil had been used for centuries to protect the skin and since then she has always been amazed by its properties – making it the perfect ingredient for which to base her first collection.

From her office near Ringwood in the grounds of her family home, Amanda is busy developing her range and has since created a fragrance based on her favourite scents, gardenia and jasmine – which remind her of those days as a child infusing floral waters with her brother. Next up for Christmas are a body cream and scrub and then Amanda has her sights set on a new collection launch for spring/summer 2017 with a fresher, greener signature base.

Alongside her growing business, Amanda has juggled becoming a mother to three and a half year old Harry, and one and half year old Ava, and family time with her husband James walking in Moors Valley Country Park or playing on the beach, eating fish and chips is vital for her to keep a good work/life balance.

With stockists in London including Fortnum & Mason as well as boutiques and salons across the country, one of Amanda’s key clients in Hampshire is the Herb House Spa at Lime Wood Hotel – and there are hopes for possible treatments to be offered for the first time outside of the capital.

Spending time with Amanda, it’s impossible not to get swept up by her enthusiasm. It’s clear she has a real passion for her products and I’m inspired by her drive and commitment to bring her father’s hard-work and enthusiasm for stunning ingredients to the people of Hampshire and beyond.

In stock - Try Amanda’s products for yourself at any of the following stockists:

Curated by Lime Wood – Herb House Spa, Lime Wood Hotel, Beaulieu Road, Lyndhurst, SO43 7FZ, 02380 287177

Simply Beauty, 21 High Street, Ringwood, BH24 1AB, 01425 472662

Hero, High Street, Stockbridge, SO20 6HE, 01264 810100

Anna Seymour Beauty Therapy, Carl Hillwood Hair & Beauty, 39 High Street, Fordingbridge, SP6 1AS, 01425 652338

Alresford Beauty, 24a West Street, Alresford, SO24 9AT, 01962 735553

Natural Beauty, Unit 20, Viables Craft Centre, The Harrow Way, Basingstoke, RG22 4BJ, 01256 819586

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