THERE is a row of elixirs lining the artfully distressed brick walls of Shoreditch retailer Anatomē that make some lofty promises.
One is marked Recovery + Sleep, another claims Focus + Concentration. A third, perhaps most interestingly, guarantees Expression + Confidence.
Up until now I knew of several substances that offer a dose of chutzpah, not all of them legal and certainly none stocked in a health and wellness shop on trendy Charlotte Road. Of course, essential oils don’t quite work like that.
In Expression + Confidence, Somalian frankincense is used to help slow down breathing and reinforcing a sense of calm, while camphor optimises effective respiration and healthy airways. It can be diffused, added to the bath, dropped into a candle or applied to the skin at certain sensory points.
“You’re not going to dab some on and suddenly turn into a new person,” Anatomē founder Brendan Murdock explains.
“These ingredients improve the quality of your breathing, which is going to keep you calm and increase the amount of oxygen to your brain so you think more clearly and express yourself better – that feels a lot like confidence.”
There are nine different blends of up to 28 oils created by Anatomē’s team of aromatherapists and aromacologists to target individual health needs and support different aspects of a person’s lifestyle.
These form the backbone of Anatomē’s comprehensive range of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, supplements, food items and fitness apparel designed to support physical and emotional wellbeing.
It’s part science lab, part apothecary all wrapped up in one very hip and modern package.
“I think traditional medicine used to be seen to be quite old-fashioned, a bit ‘old lady-ish’, but people are starting to realise they need it now more than ever,” Brendan says.
“Our lifestyles are so busy, we’re expected to look a certain way and be at the gym at 6am, we’re overstimulated from technology, our hormones are all over the place and we are looking for answers.”
And he hopes Anatomē can provide some of these answers in a welcoming retail space-cum-health hub, complete with juice bar, consultation rooms and event space.
Customers can seek advice from trained staff or book an appointment with an in-house nutritionist for a comprehensive assessment and guidance on anything from weight management through to maintaining energy levels and getting a good night’s sleep.
There is a packed programme of workshops and talks over the next few months with experts addressing a variety of health and fitness topics, including mindfulness, acupuncture, injury prevention and joint health. Brendan is also planning to offer corporate wellness packages, addressing issues like stress, sleep deprivation and confidence.
Most of the product range is available online, however Brendan, a former barber and the founder of men’s grooming emporium Murdock London, was set on a physical space to build the brand.
“We took some learnings from Murdock [he has since sold his stake in the business], namely the importance of getting to know customers at a bricks and mortar level,” he says.
“The aim was to go beyond a retail store and create an environment where people could talk to qualified nutritionists and discover new things.
“This information shouldn’t just be available to professional athletes or people who can afford to book in with a nutritionist on Harley Street.”
Nevertheless, he is keen to maintain transparency in a post-clean eating age and stops short of calling Anatomē a one-stop shop for health or promoting a lifestyle that is too holier than thou.
“Supplements are never going to be a replacement for healthy eating, and if someone should see a doctor we’re not going to sell them a vitamin instead and offer them false hope,” he says.
By the same token, they aren’t taking themselves too seriously. “If you want three glasses of wine, have three glasses of wine – it’s all about balance.”