We speak to Frances Shoemack from one of our favourite perfume brands, Abel.
What are the most important values that guide your business direction?
We do absolutely everything with one eye trained on the future. That’s the future of our planet, our people (the team and our wider community) and of course our business. We want to be a thriving business in decades to come and in order for that to be the case, our people and our planet must also be thriving.
When challenges present themselves, what do you draw upon to guide and navigate you?
Gut instinct, intuition, the heart… whatever you call it, I find that when I have a moment to pause and reflect, instinctively I know what the right decision is. Plus knowing that if you’ve made a wrong decision for the right reason, you’ll never regret it.
What do you find yourself dreaming about?
Abel! Sometimes wonderful, sometimes heavy, sometimes downright silly. The downside of running your own business is that it can be very all consuming.
What are you currently quietly cultivating in your life?
At an emotional level, I’m trying to cultivate a little more inner peace, it’s something I’ve found difficult in the past 18 months with moving home to NZ and everything else going on. Lifestyle wise, I have two new hobbies… surfing and gardening (as in properly trying to grow a decent amount of fruit and vege for our family). Neither has come particularly easily in the last 18 months, but I’m trying to go easy, acknowledging I’ve got a good few years to master both!
If one sentence could change the world, what would you say?
Oh if only it were that easy!! It’s not a sentence (and it’s nothing new!), but my intention is one of open-mindedness and empathy. A little listening, a little less judgement, would go a long way!
When in doubt… ?
I tend to find if I’m trying to force something to work, or moving too quickly I get that niggling feeling. Most of the time I put whatever it is on ice. If it’s meant to be, all of a sudden it will fall into place. If it’s not, it will just fizzle out.
What do you think businesses need to be thinking about?
People and planet. What their legacy will be.
What kind of support brought you to this moment now?
So much, so many people. I have an awesome team (one of whom, has been with Abel since basically day one), a business is as strong as its people and ours are awesome. My husband (who also has always had big jobs) for co-parenting our little boys in the truest sense. My parents for raising me with the kind of self belief and work ethic that I draw upon on a daily basis. Siblings and friends both near and far always ready for a burst of support or reality check. These days even my sons, whose pride and involvement in Abel means I never feel guilt for the time I spend on the business.
How do you find time to nourish your inner being?
By making the time. The time absolutely never finds you!! 10 minutes - meditation before bed, coffee in silence before emails, a quick walk in the sunshine, can make such a difference. Making time to pause and reflect is crucial.
What’s a quick fix remedy you absolutely rely on or trust?
I don’t really believe there are quick fixes!! I do make a green juice most mornings and if I’m feeling under the weather, I’ll add a huge chunk of ginger, turmeric, and a hot chilli or dash of black pepper.
What’s one question you wish people would ask you?
“Do you ever want to give Abel up?” I’ve never been asked but if I were, my answer would be “yes, extremely regularly!!” (probably once a month!). Good to acknowledge that you can love doing something wholeheartedly, but also still question, doubt and want to give it up, even after nearly a decade!
What are you most proud of and how do you celebrate the little moments?
When I stop to really think about it, so many things, but you do have to stop and pause to actually absorb them. Genuinely having an impact through our giveback initiatives (organising beach cleans, donations to 1% for the planet) makes me very proud.
But I think I get the most joy hearing comments from our customers. The team forwarded one today that said something along the lines of “even when I’m angry at my husband, when he’s wearing green cedar I can’t help but be reminded how much I love him”. Scent has such an incredible capacity for emotional memory, and I love hearing stories about how our fragrances impact our customers lives.
What does beauty mean to you?
Joy. Whether it’s beauty in art, music, smells, landscape or in another person (physically or otherwise) it should be joyful. Unfortunately accessing and defining conventional notions of beauty is often the opposite of joy.