It wasn’t the quietest of summers around 1 Dorset Street – in fact, it was surely the busiest since we christened Midori House six years ago and moved our operations from the other side of Marylebone Road. Aside from the Quality of Life Conference at the start of the summer, the books team was busy commissioning new travel guides for 2018 while editing our autumn line-up of titles (up next includes Munich, Milan and San Francisco); Monocle 24 was kept on the hop by the ongoing antics at the White House, terror attacks in Europe and the troubling developments on the Korean Peninsula; and the editorial team delivered the The Summer Weekly to newspaper racks across Europe every Thursday throughout August.
At first we felt that the addition of a 48-page, three-section newspaper would force the first floor to buckle but after issue one was sent to press we had found our pace and before we knew it issue four was out the door and we were missing the snappy turnaround and immediacy that a paper brought to the Midori House mix. Far away from central London our retail colleagues could be found high up in the Dolomites working on what’s set to be one of our biggest launches since our product range made its debut in 2007.
The story of our new venture has its start at the Parkhotel Laurin in Bolzano three summers ago where I was introduced to some toiletry products from the brand Trehs. Normally I’m not one for sampling hotel lotions and potions as the brands are familiar and the scents a bit obnoxious. But on this particular occasion I was short of a few essentials in my dopp kit and decided to give the body soap and moisturiser on the bathroom counter a whirl. Not expecting much, I was pleasantly surprised by both consistency and scent of the contents in the small bottle and slender tube.
As I packed my bags and let the cream soak in I tried to analyse the scent. Was it reminiscent of those early mornings at Estonian summer camp where we’d march through the wet grass to go and raise the flag and sing the national anthem? Or was it a bit more complex? Was it a mix of damp hay, chamomile and perhaps a tiny, tiny bit of lavender?
I decided the containers were worth keeping and threw them in my bag. A couple of hours later while wandering through the centre of Bolzano I came across an apothecary and went inside to see if they knew anything about the range. With a nod, the woman behind the cash desk walked across the floor and showed me the range. She told me that the products were produced not far away in the region of Sarntal and that the meadow-scented products were made from distilled hay while the more pine-scented products were made from trees that the owners cut down themselves and also put through a distillation process.
Not long after, I managed to meet Gregor – the man behind the venture – on the terrace of the Laurin and we discussed the possibility of developing something exclusively for Monocle. “First you need to come up to our hotel and experience the valley,” he said.
Some months later I found a free day to drive up to Sarntal and was welcomed at the Bad Schörgau. I toured the hotel with Gregor and much of his commentary was less about what was in existence and more about what was about to be built. “We’re going to expand the spa here,” he motioned in one direction. “And then this bit over here is going to be all new and there’ll be an incredible kitchen and the addition of an events space.” Aside from distilling hay, pine boughs and grapes for use in his range of toiletries, I was also introduced to Gregor’s homemade line-up of schnapps and the next thing I knew I’d committed to the development of a new line of tingly, wonderfully scented products made from moon pine.
At the time of typing, our design team in London has completed the packaging, the moon pine has been chopped down and blended in the lab in Trento and in the next month or so Monocle’s range of alpine products will be hitting our shelves around the world. As moon pine is a somewhat particular product, our supply is limited and we’ll soon be opening up our online shop for special orders. Come the Christmas market (please put the first weekend in December in your diary), we’ll have expanded the range and will have a stall at Midori House for more advanced sampling.
However, before all of that we’re off to the US for a book-signing tour (New York, Austin and LA) and we’ll also be heading to Australia for a couple of events before it’s time to wrap up for the season. Sign up to our newsletter or tune into Monocle 24 for more details. All comments are welcome in my inbox (firstname.lastname@example.org). Thank you for your continued support.