In 1978 Julia Lawless’s mother Kerttu, started a business called ‘The Natural Essence Company’ in the UK. As a Finnish biochemist, she had specialised as a student in Helsinki on the research of essential oils, and was particularly interested in the formulation of innovative cosmetic products using aromatic oils. She was thus aware of their immense potential as therapeutic agents long before the term, ‘Aromatherapy’ became fashionable throughout Europe in the 1980’s. Like Mama (Julia’s Finnish grandmother), Kerttu was also very knowledgeable about herbs and the healing properties of plants in general. Julia consequently grew up surrounded by essential oils, herbs and the beneficial influence of nature.
In 1988, at the time of the birth of their daughter Natasha, Julia and her husband Alec took over the family essential oil business. They changed the name of the business to ‘Aqua Oleum’: from the ancient alchemical term meaning, ‘water & oil’, since these two elements were the fundamental raw materials of all of the products. In alchemy, the name ‘Aqua Oleum’ symbolically refers to the two seemingly opposed aspects of matter and spirit, which are nevertheless unified within human nature. Bringing these two into balance i.e. the material and the spiritual, so as to work harmoniously together can be seen as underlying many of the greatest humanistic endeavours or quests.
The business premises for Aqua Oleum were established in the picturesque Cotswolds, in Gloucestersire, in the early 1990’s and is still the main base for the company today. As Julia says: “It is here that we formulate and produce new products in our artisan laboratory. The work of creating a new blend is such an exciting process: even a single drop of a particular essential oil can transform the overall fragrance and effect entirely. It is certainly a modern alchemy!” Aqua Oleum’s blue glass bottles & gold embossed labels were inspired by the original apothecary shops, whose shelves were lined with deep-blue bottles & gold labels to identify the natural remedies within. Today Natasha Lawless is also involved in the business as Creative Director, so the family business expertise of Aqua Oleum spans over three generations!