At the BDC, we are home to over 100 thriving businesses, and one of our newest additions is the innovative Alfresco Shop. This well-established brand has been in business for almost 25 years, offering a unique range of luxury cosmetic products that blend beautifully scented perfumes and skincare with natural insect repellent.

Founder Sarah-Lou in her new showroom at the BDC

To learn more about this boutique brand, we sat down with founder Sarah-Lou Morris in her new showroom to hear all about Alfresco Shop and its journey to success.

As you enter Alfresco Shop showroom you can help but notice the delightful aromas that greet you.

“Our range of products centres around three distinct fragrances that I have developed over the years,” explains Sarah-Lou, who kindly invited us to try some of her hugely popular products.

“These are standalone perfumes and skincare products you can use daily, with the added benefit of also being bug repellent,” she says.


A selection of Alfresco Shop's products

Created in 1996, the brand has carved a niche for itself with its luxury products, including natural fragrances, moisturisers, and lotions that all offer protection from bug bites. The versatility of the products and luxury design is what has contributed to Alfresco Shop’s enduring appeal over the years, transforming from a small passion project to the internationally renowned brand it is today.

How It All Began

The story of Alfresco Shop began when Sarah-Lou, following a highly successful career in the fashion industry, took early retirement and began volunteering at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London, one of the oldest botanical gardens in Europe.

Despite thoroughly enjoying her time at the garden, amongst the wonderful scented flowers and plants she found that she would return home bitten by bugs. This coupled with a trip to Sri Lanka where again she found herself being attacked by insects while trying to enjoy her travels lead to her trying to find an insect repellent she could use daily. But unimpressed by the strong chemical sprays on the market, Sarah-Lou had her eureka moment and Alfresco Shop was born.

Through her love of botanicals, this inventive entrepreneur developed her first product, a face and body moisturiser made from a secret blend of 22 sustainably sourced essential oils. Now, almost 28 years later, the product line includes three distinct fragrances that encompass both lotions and perfumes. All are natural, kind to the skin, and, of course, smell fantastic.

However, starting in the mid-90s, the journey to success was not without its hurdles. Convincing factories to produce a new kind of product was a significant challenge. Nevertheless, Sarah-Lou’s persistence paid off, and eventually, she found an expert perfumer and factory to produce her unique products, allowing her business to take flight.

Celebrity Endorsement

With the internet in its infancy and a completely new product to market, Sarah-Lou began selling her products to big department stores and retailers. One of the brand’s first big breaks came with a call in the middle of the night that turned out to be none other than Hollywood actor Robert Redford.

“He saw the product mentioned in a Times article and thought it would be the perfect product to use while filming his latest movie, The Horse Whisperer, in Montana. Our celebrity clientele grew from there, and Alfresco Shop has been featured in numerous publications over the years and has become hugely popular in the film industry.”

“One of our most loyal customer bases is makeup artists. We used to deliver our products to Pinewood Studios for the James Bond films along with the Harry Potter films in the Scottish Highlands”

Today, the skincare brand serves customers all over the world, with large customer bases in both China and Hong Kong.

However, the company is still very much a British brand, with its products and ingredients all produced in the UK. While Sarah-Lou admits it has been challenging with rising costs, the product line remains as natural and cruelty-free as possible, with all ingredients sustainably sourced and British made.

“I never want to compromise on quality and being British myself I want to ensure that it remains a British brand as part of that quality,” she adds.

Sarah-Lou, founder of Alfresco Shop

A New Chapter at the BDC

Moving to the BDC has been an exciting step for Alfresco Shop with it being their first ever showroom and opening just in time to celebrate their 28th anniversary.

Being from a fashion background herself, Sarah has enjoyed the recent London Textile Fair along with the many other creative exhibitions that have been on display at our historic venue.

“The BDC team has been incredibly supportive and with all the other businesses here, it’s a fantastic place to network and meet other like-minded, business people. Plus, it’s a true testament to how wonderful the place is, with so many of the BDC staff and businesses having been at the venue for so many years.”

With this being Alfresco Shop’s first showroom, Sarah-Lou is thrilled to have a physical location for her brand, where customers can come and learn more about her products and story. While it’s currently in the process of being set up we can’t wait to see the finished product.

What’s Next for Alfresco Shop?

Alfresco Shop continues to innovate and expand, with the upcoming launch of Alfresco Home, a line of reed diffusers and room sprays that marks the brand’s entry into the homewares market.

“Our new product line, designed with the same attention to quality, promises to bring the Alfresco experience into the home, says Sarah Lou.

For now we bid farewell to Sarah-Lou and Alfresco Shop, but are incredibly excited to see what the future holds for the brand, the beautiful new showroom and product line.

If you are a creative business looking for a new showroom or office space to rent in Islington, then get in touch. Or if you would like to browse our upcoming events then visit our What’s On page.

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