Neal's Yard Remedies is a real gem. It's spiritual home is at Neal's Yard in the centre of Covent Garden and it is still going strong in that place. But now, the business has expanded right across London, the UK and beyond, selling through little franchises as well as its own shops.
Once you walk inside the shop, you feel immediately relaxed. Essential oils, herbs and teas are a big part of the business, and their fragrant perfume infuses the air and calms everything down. The shop assistants all know a huge amount about what they are selling and can help you find the right remedy to cure almost all ills, at least if what you're looking for is a herbal tincture or tea. In fact, three quarters of those who work in their shops are trained in natural medicine themselves.
Neal's Yard, a London classic — Photo courtesy of Emma Wallis
For people just looking to relax, the essential oils and oil burners are a great present and make your whole house smell amazing. On the cosmetics, the lip balm was a top seller in little round glass pots with bee's wax and honey and essential oils. It rivaled most commercially produced lip balms that you care to try, although more recently they went to the stick format.
Wild rose beauty balm is also amazing and can be used as a cleanser, or a night cream if your skin is very dry. It's great on those problem areas like elbows, knees or just about anywhere else on your body which needs an extra smooth and polish.
The basic belief at Neal's is that beauty and life should be more natural and less artificial. Their products meet organic and soil association standards. The products are all designed, grown and tested at their physic garden and eco center in Dorset. They were the first company in the UK to sell organic essential oils, and they still carry the biggest range in the country today.
It's fragrant, organic and it works — Photo courtesy of Emma Wallis
The shop was also the first UK retailer to have been awarded the "carbon neutral" award. Today, there are 40 stores across the UK, with thirteen franchises. They sell in over 200 outlets, including big department stores like John Lewis and small independent health food stores and gift shops.
More recently, the shop has moved overseas, with 83 stores in 21 countries across five continents, including Australia, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Qatar, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, UAE and the USA.
So when you pick up your little pot of Neal's Yard delight in your own country, plan a trip to London and see where it all started. Stock up on some of the new makeup and beauty lines, or just book a massage, relax and enjoy the philosophy and lifestyle that is Neal's Yard Remedies.