Founder Feature: Frances from Abel

Posted by Jenny Tellier on

A good scent throws you back to good times. An even better scent does so using only botanically based ingredients — a rarity in the fragrance industry. On the heels of Abel's newest scent launch, Laundry Day, we're connecting with Frances Shoemack, Abel's Founder.

Frances, we’re excited to connect with you all the way in New Zealand, hours and seasons away, but happily sharing the same Earth. Abel has created such a buzz in our Toronto shops! HH customers are obsessing over Abel’s unique scent profiles and 100% plant derived ingredients. Let’s dive in.

HH: We’re lucky to connect with you just as Abel releases its newest scent, Laundry Day. Congrats! As scent is connected to memory, we’d love to know, is there a moment that you’re capturing in the notes of cut grass, lime and vetiver? 

FRANCES: Yes absolutely, the mission I set Isaac Sinclair, our perfumer, and I was to capture the essence and energy of that first day of Spring, and the reawakening that involves. For me that’s cut grass, it’s also hanging your fresh laundry outside for the first time — a note captured by an incredible biotech aldehyde ingredient, and the sticky scent that arrives with the fresh seasonal fruit — captured by an incredible upcycled Passionfruit note.

HH: There’s a scent note we’re not too familiar with in Laundry Day, aldehydes. Can you tell us more about this ingredient and how all your ingredient choices set Abel apart in the fragrance industry? 

FRANCES: Happy you asked! Aldehydes were made famous by Coco Chanel back in the 1920s when she launched Chanel N°5. At that time aldehydes were the latest in petrochemical science — very trendy for the early to mid twentieth century.

We’ve come full circle and the aldehyde we’re using is the very latest in biotechnology — a lab grown ingredient from a plant source. The aldehyde we use is that scent that fills the air when you’re ironing your clothes, super fresh and crisp.

HH: Abel’s best selling scent, Cyan Nori, is a sweet and salty musk wholeheartedly capturing the experience of being near the ocean. What has being close to the ocean taught you? 

FRANCES: Another lovely question! I’d never lived by the ocean until we moved home to New Zealand from Amsterdam (where we lived right in the city). The impact was profound. The ocean is such a power source — constantly changing, energizing, life giving — I now pine for it when I’m away from home for too long.

HH: After a long week, what practices or habits do you turn to to keep you grounded?

FRANCES: Yoga has been a huge part of my life since I was a teen (my mother is a yoga teacher) and it continues to be the best way to stay grounded and connected to my inner being, especially when the weeks are busy and/or I’m traveling.

I’ve also been having a regular sauna now for several years. A few years ago I fell in love with hot cold therapy and then last year we put a sauna in our home. Several times a week we sauna then swim in the cold ocean. It’s bliss.

HH: You wrote, “women can — and should — play a pivotal role in shaping the future of our economies,” and we agree. Who or what are you looking to for inspiration and motivation?

FRANCES: I feel so grateful to be surrounded by incredible women everywhere I turn. My team at Abel ‘mostly’ women, all whip smart, supporting each other and the business often alongside their family.

My sisters (I’m one of 5!) and mother.
My constantly growing and evolving girlfriends.

As I age, the women in my life grow in importance and meaning — they’re who I look to for motivation, inspiration and guidance.

We need these women in business because of their holistic, nurturing and collaborative approach but also their pragmatism and genuine desire to see to it that we move in a better direction. 

HH: Let’s peek into the looking glass. What three things do you hope for in a consciously shaped future?

FRANCES: A heightened sense of urgency on the climate front — driving genuine, large scale change.

An acceptance of diverse perspectives — the past 4 years have been incredibly polarizing and I don’t think it serves any of us.

A movement towards really systemic changes to the way humans live, work and play. Collectively, we’ve never been more stressed, lonely and sick — there must be a better way.


Oil or cream cleanser? Cream

Bath or shower? Bath

Salty or sweet? Salty

Cook or take out? Cook

Coffee or tea? Coffee

Morning or night? Morning

City or country? BOTH!!! City but with nature.

Summer or winter? Winter



Binge-worthy show?
Ohh, we’re not huge TV watches to be honest, although I did recently very much enjoy The Gentlemen. I’m going to go ahead and add a book recommendation as I’ve just finished an absolute gem! Welcome to the Hyunam-Dong Bookshop, by Hwang Bo-Reum, is full of softly thought provoking wisdom on every page!

Local eatery?
A delightful friend in Wellington owns and runs Mables near the site her great Aunty (Mable) set up a restaurant when she first immigrated to New Zealand from Myanmar. I celebrated my birthday there last week with friends and family.

Local shop?
Our local organic grocer CommonSense, this morning I did a last minute homeopathic remedy shop for our upcoming family holiday (altitude and jetlag) and the team in there were so amazing.

Evening snack?
Dark chocolate after dinner.

We’re off on a South American family adventure this week and I’ve been listening to Buena Vista Social Club (I realize they’re not actually South American…!) equal parts perfect 90s throwback and trip hype.

Ritual when you get home?
Putting on my home clothes and chatting to my children (and husband if he’s there!) while I cook dinner.

Activity to wind down?

Black Coffee — probably too much, always before midday.

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