Aromatherapist Lucy Stevens has worked within the skincare industry for nearly 15-years. She founded her Orchard View naturals (OV naturals) brand upon moving to rural Somerset in 2007, and to this day still runs the independent, small business single-handedly in her Somerset therapy practice – and that means everything from making the tea, to creating all of her luxurious products by hand.
Lucy: “My husband and I had come to a point in our lives where we wanted a complete change and, to cut a long story short, we ended up in the West Country – in a tent – eventually settling in South Somerset, Shepton Beauchamp, at a house called Orchard View. Although we’ve recently moved on, the business name remains. It’s often shortened to OV or OV naturals. I’ve developed my style of facials and body treatments over a decade in my Somerset therapy practice, focusing on a holistic approach using pure, natural and organic ingredients which are also vegan and cruelty-free. OV naturals is named after my first Somerset home, Orchard View. It has that lovely ‘golden glow’ that represents heritage, countryside and nature.”
Lucy has distilled all her knowledge and experience into her range of lovingly produced organic products, all of which she has developed as a direct result of requests from her clients.
Lucy: “I just love working with my clients, getting to know them over a period of time. Some have been with me since the very beginning. When people visit for a treatment and leave feeling better than when they arrived, I know I’ve done my job well. It’s amazing to see improvements in clients’ skincare and health over time. I love to share knowledge about botanical ingredients. People are often a little sceptical about using facial and body oils, thinking they’ll be greasy, so when they experience OV products they can be surprised at the texture and fast absorption rate. It’s so gratifying when products are well received, you feel as though you are sharing a little bit of yourself. I love getting out and about and meeting other people with similar passions and interests, like my fabulous stockists. I’m really interested in the natural/organic sector, independent businesses, cruelty-free brands, sustainability and ethics. It’s great to see developments such as the ban on microbeads in cosmetics and the new war on plastics. Treatments are all about helping you feel good, as well as looking good; about how you would like to feel at the end of the treatment. I’m a big fan of customising so in facials I often used unscented products and mix in OV facial oils, depending on what skin needs that day. In aromatherapy massage we often create a bespoke blend together depending on how you respond to certain smells or what your body needs for balance.”
Lucy only uses natural, organic, vegan and cruelty free products and ingredients in her formulations, and its her essential oils that form the foundation of her range.
Lucy: “It all began with a yearning to discover more about the power of essential oils, after experiencing their benefits. Aromatherapy can be misunderstood as simply ‘lovely smells’. Of course, many essential oils do smell beautiful and that is a huge part of their appeal. They can also be used clinically, in the right hands. Essential oils contain tiny molecules which absorb through the skin and through inhalation so they can be used to help with all manner of imbalances and emotions. There is plenty of clinical research to back this up, as well as a long history of anecdotal evidence. I became fascinated by this and wanted to learn how to use them safely and effectively.”
Lucy is now based in Langport and her OV naturals range is developing all the time. It currently includes organic facial oils, packed full of potent skin nutrition; body polishes with organic cane sugar and mineral-rich fine pink Himalayan salt; body oils to soothe and protect your skin; and reed diffusers with naturally aromatic essential oils. But it’s Lucy’s 99.9% natural eau de toilette – which has been three-years in the making – which is her star product.
Lucy: “My favourite at the moment is Golden Eau de Toilette. It has a story, it evolves as you wear it. Many, many hours (years in fact) went into producing it. With neroli, tuberose, rose otto, rose absolute, pink pepper, pink grapefruit, magnolia leaf, frankincense and ambrette seed. It’s a warm, bright yet complex aroma. I love that it’s natural and non-toxic so inhaling it is actually therapeutic.”
Despite her success, Lucy admits that it hasn’t all been plain sailing – with red tape and the challenges of working with natural products being the most difficult to get to grips with.
Lucy: “The main challenges have been getting to grips with cosmetic legislation, procedures and paperwork. Also learning to work with volatile natural/organic substances, which can be unpredictable and vary from batch to batch. Let’s just say you can make some very expensive mistakes! The natural world is wonderful, but also fluctuates enormously, so ingredients are never ‘static’. For example the price of vanilla oil has increased dramatically. I don’t have this in any products but really feel for small producers who do.”
So why does Lucy love Somerset?
Lucy: “I love the more relaxed way of life here in the countryside. I have had to learn to slow down and let that tractor trim the hedge before I can pass. I love the rural walks, the wildlife, the fresh air, the birds, the skies, the willows, and the light on the Somerset Levels. I love the creativity that’s everywhere and the entrepreneurial spirit. We’re so lucky here to have access to the Dorset and Devon coastlines, too, as well as some really vibrant little towns and villages. Plus every girl needs a city fix now and then so Bristol, Bath and Exeter are all firm favourites for the spas, restaurants, theatres, art galleries, shops and cafes.”