At home with ARRAN | An Interview with Andrew Russell

Three decades ago, our quintessentially Scottish beauty brand was born out of a vision to conjure vibrant, evocative scents that embody the inimitable spirit of our island home, Arran. As a small, family-owned soap brand, we set out to combine the natural elements that surround us; the botanicals, scents and even water from our very own freshwater spring. Today, this commitment remains as resolute as the day we were born… we’ve just grown a little bigger! 

With this week marking our 31st anniversary, join us in an exclusive interview with Andrew Russell: the son of our founders and Sales & Marketing Director here at ARRAN Sense of Scotland. Recalling his favourite moments from over the last few decades and revealing insights to life on Arran at the moment, read on to discover more. 

What first started out as an idea after a spring shower in the garden of our family home has now grown into a timeless fragrance which is loved by so many across the world!

Can you tell us a little about yourself? 

I'm the son of the founders and Sales & Marketing Director here at ARRAN Sense of Scotland. I'm married to Tracy, a Dentist, with two children. Olivia is 17 years old, sitting her Advanced Highers at home, and Harris is 11 and relieved that all his homework is now getting done in the day time! 

ARRAN Sense of Scotland has grown considerably since it first began as a small, family soap brand. What's been your favourite moment from over the last 30 years? 

For me, it's undoubtedly seeing the love for our flagship After the Rain fragrance grow. What first started out as an idea after a spring shower in the garden of our family home has now grown into a timeless fragrance which is loved by so many across the world! It's a humbling moment reading comments on our social media channels from people recalling how they first discovered the fragrance, and I'm excited to see what the future has in store for our signature scent. 

Our rebrand was also a huge opportunity to help us grow the brand internationally. Getting to assist with the development of the new packaging designs, fragrance names and seeing the entire transition through from start to finish was a huge career highlight for me! 

How is life on the Isle of Arran at the moment? 

We've recently moved to the mainland just outside of Glasgow, but my mum, my brother and my aunt & uncle are all on the Island and in regular contact with each other. At the moment, it’s hardest for my mum who is separated from her grandchildren and vice versa for them, at 1 & 4 they don’t understand these incredible circumstances.

How important is the strength and support from the local community on the island? 

Crucial. Our family go back six generations and there has always been a strong sense of community with islanders pulling together. The company has been based on Arran for over 30 years and giving back to those around us is at the heart of what we do. For us it's crucial to support and give back to our community as best we can. Our team managed to create 15,000 bars of our soaps to be issued to residents on the island, and we've also developed a Hand Cleansing Gel to help those in need. 

Our family go back six generations and there has always been a strong sense of community with islanders pulling together. The company has been based on Arran for over 30 years and giving back to those around us is at the heart of what we do.

What are you personally doing to stay positive in this current climate?

Creating a 'new normal' for a family that is trying to function without leaving the house is my main focus at the moment. We are making time for exercise, study, virtual coffees, work, school work and I’m starting to see the DIY pressure increasing too!

A wee bonus is that my daughter has just finished school to study Law at University. We get to see a bit more of her as a result of us all being home… and for the moment that it is still a positive!

Working from home, do you find any particular scents help you to keep focused?

I use the Glenashdale Bath & Shower Gel to wake myself up in the morning and then during the day at my makeshift 'office' desk, there has to be coffee and an Ultimate Fig Diffuser nearby! In the evening, we like to light a few candles to help us relax. After the Rain is an all-time favourite for obvious reasons, but we have a Winter Forest candle left from last year which I'm trying to use sparingly as it's one of my other favourite scents. At bedtime, the Glen Iorsa Calming Mist is getting heavily used at the moment! 

The importance of regular hand washing is crucial right now. What are your top tips for keeping hand clean and protected?

At home, we have both bar soap and hand wash by our sinks and the lathering of the soap also means you take a bit longer washing your hands. I'm regularly washing my hands with our triple milled Honey & Oatmeal Soap, it's great for working up a gentle lather without drying out your skin.

When washing our hands a lot we also top up with hand cream to nourish the natural skin barrier. I've started using our Formulas Ginger & Ginseng Hand Cream immediately after washing. We issued each member of our team with a selection of hand care products, and this lightweight yet nourishing hand cream is ideal for protecting your skin's natural moisturiser barrier. 

We also keep a few of our new Hand Cleansing Gels in multiple locations around the house so that we can either add it before the hand cream or top up as we receive the post or any online deliveries. Whenever we might need to step out, we always take the gel and apply this before and after visiting the shops too.

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