Because there’s no place quite like the Great British high street – from its niche independents, to seasonal Pop-Ups and those expansive yet elegant department stores – Because Magazine is on a mission to champion the bricks-and-mortar of London in all its glory. Each week, we’ll beeline to the rails of our favourite retailers to scope out the must-have pieces and in-store exclusives that are more than worth making an effort for. This week, we're in Marylebone to have a look around Baobab Collection with Gabriele Esu, their Area Manager for UK and Ireland. 

When you enter Baobab’s store you are enveloped by fragrance. The air is bright with the scents of amber, vetiver and vanilla which transport you, in the way that only smell can, to another place and time.

The Belgium-based company was founded in 2002 following a trip to Tanzania and the idea behind the brand, explains Esu, “was to bring back the beautiful colours and the beautiful scents from Tanzania and create a candle, a diffusor, a fragrance.”

“We started with All Seasons, which is probably our core collection. In terms of colour and fragrances, we have Madagascan vanilla, Zanzibar spice… this is the first version which was very much inspired by Tanzania.” The collection relaunched in September of last year with a new vase that is vaguely iridescent, with a pearly sheen to its surface. “When you burn the candle you actually see the reflection,” Esu enthuses, “it highlights the beauty of the flame, it’s all very romantic and hypnotic.”

Almost everything produced by Baobab is made from hand: the glass vases are blown in Holland, the ceramic necks of their diffusers are thrown and glazed in Portugal, the raffia baskets made by members of the Mikea tribe in Madagascar. Even the mineral wax is hand-poured and the wicks made from Egyptian cotton. “And when it comes to the fragrance itself,” Esu explains, “we source all of the fragrances from Grasse in France where they grow the plants and the flowers.”

“So, you have something like this,” Esu points an enormous candle in a red and white vase called ‘Feathers Masai’, “which has rum, amber and patchouli and then you go to the fresh version,” he gestures to the blue one next to it, ‘Feathers Touareg’, “which has mint, jasmine and musk. But this is beautiful if you like fresh scents. For me, I am from the South of Italy, so I am drawn to these fragrances because they are so fresh and they remind me of home.”

“These remind me of my mum washing my face for example - we are obsessed with Marseilles soap in Italy - and so anything that has that freshness reminds me of that beautiful moment, the memory, and I am drawn to it.”

“It is always a journey. For instance,” he moves over to a shelf of candles with pink geometric patterned vases, “this beautiful collection is Women and Gentlemen. And it is quite close to Corrine (Bensahel, the Creative Director), because when her mum passed away from breast cancer and she decided to develop a collection based on her mum’s scarf that would also have her smell.” The candles are fragranced with magnolia, rose and musk and a percentage of the profits is donated to help fund cancer research programmes.

“It’s so subjective,” he continues, “I think with fragrances you get drawn back to a memory.”

There is also the Stone collection inspired by the daughters of Charles Stone, a merchant from Antwerp who disappeared in the Amazon; the Beach club collection which is inspired by the bodies of “gorgeous boys full of cologne [who] run past you” on South Beach in Miami; the Les Prestigieuses collection which is inspired by legendary materials such as Indian moonstone and Chinese ink; the Pearls Collection; the Nirvana Collection…

“You understand the beauty of the candle, of the scent, but also,” Esu reiterates, “the story. So you also fall in love with the brand as well. We are very proud of what we do.”​

Unveil more of London's brick-and-mortor:

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+ Store Stories: Earl of East