· By Becca Brown
TEN YEARS OF SHAY & BLUE
WOWEEEEEE, IT’S OUR TENTH BIRTHDAY!
We can hardly believe it but it’s been a whole decade since Shay & Blue was first born, from a teeny tiny seed of an idea in founder Dom De Vetta’s mind to the beautiful bloom it has become, and what a journey it’s been. We’ve weathered a fair few storms and even survived a global pandemic, but come out the other side smiling (and of course still smelling delicious might I add) So to celebrate this milestone I spoke to Dom about his journey so far, how Shay & Blue has become the small but perfectly formed brand that it is now and where he sees it going in the ten years to come.
I had over twenty years experience in the fragrance industry and whilst I obviously loved it, felt like it was old fashioned in many ways. I saw other industries becoming so progressive but felt like many big fragrance companies were stuck in the past, creating overpriced and mass produced products that were packed full of chemicals and incredibly gender specific.
I wanted to create a brand that was purpose driven, with a conscience, and make fragrance that was for everyone. Natural, sustainable, affordable and genderless.
I was lucky enough to know some amazing people in the industry who could help me achieve my vision of creating this new Gen Z fragrance. I teamed up with Perfumer Julie Massé and we began developing our first scent, Blood Oranges. The process moved relatively quickly as we all had a strong idea of exactly what we wanted, from there we developed Sicilian Limes and Atropa Belladonna.
These were the days pre-social media so we relied heavily on word of mouth to begin with and luckily for us, good news (and smells) travel fast. S&B and specifically Blood Oranges got loads of interest and were picked up on fashion shoots and shows all over London, before long it was a must have in many Make-up bags and we even won a few awards.
There’s one major obstacle that sticks out in my mind and that’s being plastic free. It’s something that is and always has been so important to me and the brand but something that is incredibly difficult to achieve. We live in a world and work in an industry that is geared towards using and encouraging the use of plastic, and a lot of the time I don’t think we even realise how prevalent it is.
We work with a wonderful company called Plastic Planet who have reinforced my beliefs that there is NO SUCH THING as ‘good plastic’ No matter the level of sustainability it may claim, all plastic eventually ends up in the land, the animals and the humans that inhabit it.
I am happy to say that we are now 98% plastic free but it’s been a long and difficult journey and there’s still a way to go.
Yes it did, but in an unexpected sense. We got some backlash against our gender beliefs to begin with that we hadn’t anticipated and found that when we spoke up about these, certain people weren’t too happy.
However, being made for all genders is something I have felt incredibly strongly about from day one, I wanted to champion the LGBTQ+ community and although there were times when people questioned this I have found that when you put your beliefs ahead of anything else, you are able to create a community of people who are aligned with these views. As a result, any negative responses to our all gender approach have paled in comparison to the love and acceptance we’ve felt from S&B customers and friends.
We also have a long standing relationship with Mermaids and have worked closely with them for many years, including creating a fragrance ‘Mermaid Kisses’ all the proceeds of which help support transgender, non binary and gender-diverse children and young people.
It really differs, the process can be super quick sometimes and other times I’ll be working on a fragrance for several years. I love natural smells so a lot of the time my inspiration comes from nature, I especially lean towards citruses and woody, spicy notes.
It always begins very visually, with mood boards, images of ingredients as well as the feelings we are hoping to evoke with them. We will play around with scent combinations and when we’ve found 4 or 5 we like, it’s time to test them out, sit with them for a while, see how they grow on us, how the scent evolves, whether it lasts long enough, whether it matures the way we intended. This can be a lengthy process because there’s a lot of back and forth finding the perfect combination.
It’s also a lot trickier with everything being as natural as possible, we can’t tweak the formula with chemicals to make it longer lasting or stronger etc. Sometimes we’ll be working on several projects at once and Julie and I will spend a lot of time traveling between her perfumerie in Paris and here.
It can be frustrating, as with any creative process, when you just can’t find that perfect note. Clementine took over 50 attempts before we were 100% happy. But we didn’t rush the process and we got there eventually.
- If you could have created a fragrance for any celebrity/historical figure, who and what would it be?
That’s a no brainer: David Bowie. It would be unusual, edgy and all gender. I’m thinking spicy citrus with a touch of floral, and it would have to be glittery too. He was so far ahead of his time, he’s one of the few people that could pull that off.
- What’s next for S&B?
We will continue to grow, as a brand and as a community.
Workplace wise, it’s important to me to create an environment where everyone is content, and happy going into work. I believe there is so much pressure in everyday life, not to mention the pressure we put on ourselves, that companies and bosses don’t need to be doing the same thing and adding to this stress. I want Shay & Blue to be a company that people really enjoy being a part of. The community feel is integral to us and for that reason I want to grow the brand with our beliefs and morals at the forefront of everything we do.
I would obviously like to continue developing new fragrances and in turn new cosmetic products, but always with our clean fragrance ethos at the heart. Everything will align with our core values of clean, genderless fragrance for all.
With some really exciting new projects in the works, new fragrances and some surprise products up our sleeves it’s going to be another exciting year for Shay & Blue. Thanks for coming along for the ride, and here’s to ten more years.