Laurie Arbuthnot, owner of Wild Coast Perfumery in Cowichan Bay, poses with some of her products. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Opening Wild Coast Perfumery a dream come true for Cowichan Bay owner

Business notes

Laurie Arbuthnot’s life-long dream came true when she opened Wild Coast Perfumery in Cowichan Bay in 2017.

Wild Coast Perfumery, the only business of its kind on the Island outside Victoria, is an artisan perfumery that prides itself on making totally natural, plant-based perfumes without using synthetic and chemical-based ingredients or animal products, which Arbuthnot refers to as the “dark side” of the industry.

Arbuthnot grew up on Vancouver Island, and was involved with running a number of other businesses over the years, including the Antique Barn in Chemainus and a boutique fishing lodge.

She said she visited a perfume shop while on a trip to Italy in 1988, and the experience changed her life.

“It was so charming and wonderful and I started to develop big dreams to open my own shop, but you had to speak French because the only perfume school at the time was in France,” Arbuthnot said.

“The idea rattled around in my head until the mid-1990s when I did an online course on perfumes from Thailand. I completed the program, but I still didn’t do anything with the knowledge I gained.”

Arbuthnot said she began studying what others in the industry were doing, and took further classes on the subject in San Francisco before finally finding an ocean-front location in Cowichan Bay and opening Wild Coast Perfumery three years ago.

“I felt it was time to finally move forward with my dream after 30 years,” she said. “My family was so sick of me talking about it over such a long time that I finally had to do it.”

Arbuthnot said the business is currently producing 12 fragrances, with such familiar names as Pender Island eau de parfum and Cowichan Rose eau de parfum, and is currently working on new lines and collaborations.

The store’s website said that the making of each perfume involves traditionally blending pure plant-based, precious essential oils and wild harvested tinctures, including needles, leaves, flowers, lichen, fungi and moss from local forests.

“Our botanical perfumes will evoke a sense of Island calm that is inspired by the ancient rain forests, mountains and the Salish Sea that surrounds us,” the website says.

Arbuthnot said each of her perfumes has between 25 and 35 ingredients, with at least one being local, including cottonwood, cedar and Douglas fir.

“Most of the other ingredients are not indigenous and don’t grow here, like citrus, or there isn’t enough grown locally to cover our needs, like rose petals,” she said.

“All the ingredients are natural and plant-based, and we list them online on our website. People with allergies to some chemicals in other perfumes don’t have to worry about that with our products, unless they have allergies to specific plants. We make the perfumes in small batches and it takes four to six weeks to age and allow the ingredients time to melt and blend together.”

Arbuthnot said Wild Coast Perfumery’s sales are generally split three ways between online, personal sales at the shop and the other shops and spas that use and sell her perfumes.

She said that when she first opened the shop, she believed most of her business would come from tourists, but she was pleasantly surprised that she has huge support from the local community, other parts of the Island as well as the Lower Mainland.

Arbuthnot said she does have expansion plans for Wild Coast Perfumery, but it will likely be centred on online sales at this time.

“We do need more space, but there’s not much more room for expansion at the store, so I’m looking at reconfiguring it,” she said.

“I also plan to increase my staff by two this year, plus someone who will help in marketing and would be the shop’s creative director. I’m living my dream and my thanks go out to the people of Cowichan Bay who have been so supportive of me since I opened the store.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Local Business

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Island Health graph showing COVID-19 cases in the central Island by local health area between Dec. 27 and Jan. 23. (Island Health image)
Central Island’s COVID-19 case spike shifting, says Island Health

Cowichan Valley has seen the highest number of cases, but Nanaimo and south Island seeing upticks

Extensive water on No. 4 and 5 at the Mount Brenton Golf Course following heavy rains earlier this month. (Photo submitted)
Mount Brenton Golf Course does a booming business in 2020

A total of 15,000 more rounds played than the previous year

The memorial site for double-murder victims Nellie Williams and Fran Shurie, located in Charles Hoey Park, will be allowed to stay for another two months after the City of Duncan changed its policy on temporary memorials. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Duncan allows temporary memorials to stay longer

Policy change related to memorial for double-homicide victims in city park

Snow is sticking to the ground on Malahat Drive at Shawnigan Lake Road. (Drive BC)
Snowfall warning issued for Malahat

10 centimetres of snow expected between Goldstream and Mill Bay

(Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
The Pachena Bay shoreline in 2013. (Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
This week in history: 9.0 magnitude quake struck under what is now called Vancouver Island

According to First Nations elders, the 9.0-magnitude quake in 1700 CE kick-started a tsunami

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Worker at Swartz Bay terminal on Monday, January 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Former BC Ferries employee alleges he was fired because of his race

Imraan Goondiwala has been granted a BC Human Rights Tribunal hearing

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker have been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
B.C. couple who travelled to Yukon for COVID vaccine ineligible for 2nd dose until summer

Health officials planning new measures to ensure people verify where they live before inoculation

(File)
Mask dispute in court leaves Vancouver cop with broken leg

Man allegedly refused to put on a mask and resisted arrest

(Kraft Dinner/Twitter)
Kraft Dinner launches candy-flavoured mac and cheese just in time for Valentine’s Day

Sweet and cheesy treat will be here just in time for the cheesiest holiday of the year

SAR crews worked late into the night Tuesday to rescue an injured snowboarder in North Vancouver. (Facebook/North Shore Rescue)
Complicated, dangerous rescue saves man in avalanche near Cypress Mountain

North Shore SAR team braves considerable conditions to reach injured snowboarder

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
UPDATE: No sign of small plane that went down in waters south of Vancouver Island

Searchers out on both sides of border between Victoria and Port Angeles

Most Read