Five Minutes with the Founder | Brendan Murdock, Founder, anatomē
Over the next few weeks we will be spending five minutes with the founders of our 12 new Brands of Tomorrow, getting to know them and their businesses, and finding out the stories behind their brands. Today we kick-off with Brendan Murdock, the founder of modern apothecary brand anatomē…
anatomē is a holistic wellness brand dedicated to supporting modern life and helping you find balance through personalised advice and luxurious product collection of essential skincare, organic skincare and supplements. I see anatomē as a modern, urban apothecary in which mind and body need to be equally nourished.
Tell us the story of how you built your brand
anatomē really came about because I didn’t see in the marketplace a particular kind of retail experience that I wanted as a consumer, most physical and digital places to shop I found simply overwhelming with too much choice and varying quality. I was searching for natural, premium products that could be used daily to support health but that also are aesthetically pleasing in the design. I’ve worked with a brilliant team of creatives to achieve this from product design to product formulations.
I also wanted to combine sensory pleasures with health and wellness which for me is lacking in many brands – and of course, the two things are closely related. That’s why botanicals and the finest essential oils are at the core of all our collection, we have essential oils and health supplements addressing specific issues, around sleep, energy and confidence, and we recently launched a luxurious skincare range which incorporates these same health-supporting oils.
I have been able to engage with customers using pop-up shops to achieve this as we developed the collection, from an initial popup in Shoreditch, to our store in St James where the Crown Estate invited us to open our store.
Why did you choose to set up your business in the luxury sector?
My background has been in brand creation so the luxury market, so I understand this marketplace. For example I launched Murdock London in the mid 2000s when I looked around for places to experience and purchase gentlemen’s grooming products. I wanted to re-invent the barber’s shop and bring retail into that intimate experience. Before that, I had a wine-focused restaurant, which became a destination place to eat, sited in a large former warehouse space. Glorious as both where I was ready for a new challenge.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
I really enjoy the creative component. For the most part creating a brand and developing services and products is very familiar. I was lucky to work with some great people in setting up anatomē and I have good instincts when it comes to choosing the creative who work with me. Studio91 in Bethnal green are an amazing brand communications agency and they helped me develop the visual language of the brand. I still work with Anastasia Brozler in developing the complex scents and combinations of oils and I have great nutritionists who help steer my thinking.
Because of my past experience, I’ve also been able to scale the brand relatively quickly, given that we’ve only been around for about 18 months. Earlier this year, we launched in Bergdorf Goodman in New York and recently we launched on both NET-A-PORTER and MR PORTER, and we wholesale in places like Soho House.
The big new challenge ahead is developing compelling digital experiences since the nature of retail shopping has changed so dramatically in recent years. I’m focused on how to create new and interesting experiences for customers and within an accelerator (Founders Factory) integrating both live and digital experience which is an enjoyable and challenging process.
What and/or who is your source of inspiration and motivation?
In terms of anatomē, the old apothecaries of old are very inspiring, St James’s was the birthplace of the British Apothecary and that history is so intriguing. Living in London and travelling it’s so important to see as much opera, art, theatre as possible, it all informs your creative choices and nourishes the soul. Outside of that the people close to me, including my partner Mark all motivate and inspire, questioning and challenging.
If you could have any other job in the world what would it be?
I secretly want to be a travel agent – but someone who gets to travel with the guests, I love researching new places, hotels, restaurants, and experiences that can be genuinely enriching.
If you could do something differently in your career what would it be?
Always work with people that you know well and who understand and share your vision. Only involve people in your business who share your values and that have integrity. Understand how important it is to develop and harness talent in order to deliver success. Also, I learned that creating a great brand isn’t the same thing as sustaining a vision for that brand.
Where do you see yourself and your company in 10 years’ time?
I want anatomē to be a global brand, presented in key cities, whether in our own stores or through varied partnerships with hotels, gyms and other places where retail can still innovate. Alongside that, I want to build a community of loyal anatomē fans that engage with our digital experiences and who feel connected to our values.
What does success look like to you?
Success is anatomē as a global brand, with a successful omni-channel approach. I really hope with genuine charity partnerships we develop the brand has real integrity.
What advice do you have for any young entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?
I think you need to really be honest with yourself and be aware of your own skill set. You’ll be good at some things but not others, so find the right people to support you. Also, visualise your ideas clearly and combine that with a sense of purpose. Good brands are genuine and customers can tell the fakes and phonies from the real thing. The journey can be overwhelming, so keep yourself focused and look after yourself, physically and mentally. Start something you are passionate about and that engages your heart and your head. That will help ensure the integrity of your brand.
What is your greatest luxury under £10?
Filtered Black Monmouth coffee every morning, it transforms the day, and I miss it terribly when travelling!