Burning Bright. In conversation with our Co Founder & Director, Helen Armstrong.

Burning Bright. In conversation with our Co Founder & Director, Helen Armstrong.

To mark International Women’s Day, we’re issuing an ode to the inspiring doyenne behind Apsley and Company. Meet Helen Armstrong - our eclectic, prolific and consistently on-the-pulse Co-Founder and Director. From her quirky yet classically chic sartorial tendencies to her uniquely forward-thinking approach towards all things fragrance and business, it’s clear that Helen is a contagiously vibrant source of inspiration for trailblazing businesswomen everywhere. Ladies, take note.

Helen Armstrong with collection of diffusers

An avid trend-watcher, Helen ardently stays in tune with movements in varying industries from beauty, to fashion, food, technology and lifestyle frontiers, propelling her creativity at the helm of Apsley and Company. When scouring for new inspiration, you can find her airport-bound or recalling still-potent memories of faraway places. Somehow, despite constantly gallivanting across the globe and running a fragrance mecca, Helen manages to stay on-top of everything ‘happening’ in the industry.. She’s renowned for poring over her morning newspaper, trawling through digital publications, never missing a beat on socials and keeping up with an inexhaustible deluge of emails, highlighting a strong proclivity for hard work and success. It is very evident this dedication has lead to the success of Scented Space, Abode Aroma and Apsley and Company - innovative, beautiful and the highest quality home fragrance brands.  

But, like all inaugural business ventures, it wasn’t naturally smooth sailing from the outset. “[My business partner and I] soon realised just how little we knew about the industry. It was a totally different world from where we had come, but I loved it from day one.” Nurturing a deep love of interiors, an innate flair for design, but having spent years working as a HR Executive in beer, steel and automotive parts, Helen relished just how “fabulous” the transition was in moving from a masculine industry. 

To walk a day in Helen’s shoes would be completely unpredictable, with most weeks differentiating from the last. One week could entail gallivanting through oriental countries to meet with international customers, while the next may see her knuckling down at the desk with the team to handle vital business admin and operations. If you’re wondering what exactly goes on behind the scenes at Apsley and Company HQ, we’re running you through what a “typical”day looks like when she’s on home soil...

5:30am – Commences the morning by sieving through newspaper headlines and social media, keeping up with all industry news and opportunities pertinent to Apsley and Company.

  • 6am – Out the door.
  • 6:45am - Arrive at the gym.
  • 8am - Hit the desk! First up, sift through and actions emails that have come in overnight, keeping in mind that “60% of our business is offshore so there’s always a dense inbox waiting each morning.”
  • 9am - Consult with the wider team to go through what’s happening for the day and what needs to be made priority.
  • 9:30am-5pm - Work on product design and development for local and international customers, followed by account management issues for major international customers. This covers everything from logistics through to fragrance development.
  • 5:30pm – Time to head home.
  • 6:30pm – Discuss what has occurred during the day and what issues call for some major decision-making with her business partner.
  • Evening: Winding down by indulging in a true love of cooking and gardening, and sipping on a well-deserved glass of Chardonnay. Helen’s absolute drink of choice! 

On her most triumphant moment in business so far, it’s no surprise that Helen recalls when Apsley and Company was accepted to flaunt their products at the New York Gift Fair, marking the brand’s glorious foray into the Big Apple. Following the showcase, both Anthropologie and Club Monaco placed orders with the business, proving to be a monumental victory for Apsley and Company, as well as a true testament to the superior quality of each product, and Helen’s prowess in proliferating the international market. 

Always generous with her time and wealth of knowledge, Helen has offered to impart some golden advice for women hoping to fiercely pursue their ambitions. She adamantly encourages the understanding of cash flow cycle in business, maintaining that it “can make or break you,” while on the HR front, it’s all about hiring on “attitude over ability” every time. Helen reminds us to perpetually treat others the way you would like to be treated and rallies behind the notion of diversity within the workplace. “Different views and opinions means you are more likely to create a product or service that will appeal to many, not just a few,” she notes. 

Forward-thinking, vivacious and eternally exuding creativity, Helen is a veritable inspiration for the Apsley and Company team, as well as any aspiring businesswoman striving to reach the pinnacle of their career goals. After sitting down with Helen to distil what exactly has allowed for her remarkable success, we’re saluting a tall glass of Chardonnay to every extraordinary woman challenging the status quo in leading industry roles. Above all else, we hope that Helen’s story has empowered you to commence every day as if it were International Women’s Day.

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