The Menswear Style Podcast

Brendan Murdock, Founder of anatomē

March 22, 2022 Menswear Style Episode 167
The Menswear Style Podcast
Brendan Murdock, Founder of anatomē
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

anatome are a natural health+ wellness brand and community built on the principle that nutritional + emotional balance is the pathway to a fulfilled life. Founder Brendan Murdock is passionate about the apothecaries of old that dispensed herbal remedies, potions and lotions to support health and wellbeing. Working with botanicals and essential oils for many years and through his creative passions and interest in food, perfume, and skincare he had a deep desire to update and reinvent the apothecary for a new generation. The result is a place you can visit not only to shop for the finest products he and his team have developed, but also to speak to health practitioners and receive advice and the strategies you need to support your wellbeing.

In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Brendan Murdock, Founder of anatomē about his entrepreneurial background and his journey to launching an apothecary business. Peter Brooker and Brendan talk about modernising an industry, aromatherapy, customer profiling, wellness routines, sourcing and manufacturing.

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PB:

Hello, welcome to another episode of the menswear style podcast. I'm your host Pete burger. Today I am talking to the founder of anatomy. Brendan Murdoch anatomy is a natural health and wellness brand and community built on the principles that nutritional and emotional balance is the pathway to a fulfilled life. They specialise in health, retail nutrition, wellness, aromatherapy, Fitness, Food, supplements, and vitamins. And you can find more information over at the website anatomy.co. But here to describe the brand, in his own words is founder Brendan Murdoch.

Unknown:

So my name is Brendan Murdoch, I am an Irishman, entrepreneur, I guess. And and that, to me is a brand that supports your well being it's an apothecary and we deal in rare, unusual botanical extracts and essential oils. And we pull those wonderful ingredients into essential oil blends, health supplements, organic skincare, to support your well being

PB:

interesting. So I first got wind of view if that's the right way of saying it. Brendan when I tried some London murder products and I can tell you they were some of the best products I tried to actually have a friend gave them to me. And I've been at O'Reilly I've been a regular patron since but but what is your background before that and coming into this?

Unknown:

So my background, I did a finance degree and then did a few law post grads. And then after working a little bit in a law firm decided it wasn't quite for me. And I was at the time quite interested in restaurants and food and London's dining theme really opening up around 2002 And I opened a wine focused restaurant on Hoxton Square, which was called crew. And it was a large warehouse with sharing platters and a big wood fired oven. And we specialise in Mediterranean relaxed dining along with organic well chosen wines. And at that time shortage or Hoxton was the kind of birthplace of fads and fashion. And it was a real calling card across London. So it was great to showcase a restaurant. And at the same time, it was a steep learning curve, I'd never run a restaurant or basically worked in one. But it was 110 seater, and quite quickly learned about food, wine, ingredients, things work together, and creating a brand, the order of service and the precision that a restaurant needs to work well. And, and restaurants are exhausting. And after about three years, I was like this is hard to replicate and changing chairs and all the dynamics and you know shortage is a real nightlife place. So it's quite hard to keep chefs in line and it's quite demanding everything was done to the creative ability of an individual and I thought, well, it would be great to be able to pass on some of this in and not to have every evening starting from scratch. And, and this is a long story but then basically looking at men's grooming and there was this idea of the metrosexual man, and I quite like rediscovering things and re platforming them. And I thought, well, there's a way of re platforming and rediscovering and redefining the barbershops. And across the road from crew and Hoxton was a little corner shop. And I thought, wouldn't it be nice to open up a barber shop? And that was where Murdock was born around. I can't remember 2007 Maybe oh six and that environment. You know, when we opened Murdoch at a to barbers chairs, and we were selling other people's great products, and and it was a lot of the old brands like Dr. Harris and Sanford Annabella. And some modern ones, too, like malman goalwards and aqua Parma. And I kind of had it in my mind that we would use the barber's chair, to educate men about grooming, and through the trust of their Barber, they would discover what products would best suit them. And we were doing this, as I mentioned with third party brands, and then quite quickly, it was my intention to create Murdoch London products. And so we had learned so much about the great products of the world. And some of them weren't so great. And we were able to then start developing the Murdoch products. And so we started with fragrance and shaving and that was the anchor point to that brand. And I suppose the marriage of these two things creating skincare products. Understanding ingredients in a restaurant, weirdly are interconnected. and led me to anatomy because we are nice specialising in ingestible, supplement formula, formulations, T formulations, then essential oils, which are centred worn externally on the body. So we're dealing in the world of ingredients, but we're also dealing in the world of skincare, and looking after men and women and supporting their wellbeing.

PB:

Nice, interesting. Well, yeah, I mean, it's interesting, I've worked in a restaurant, stroke bar as well, in my 20s, and it is a very intense atmosphere, I think for people that might have just had a glimpse of it on TV with like, the hell's kitchens, and the reality shows in Bali, just get a slice of it. But if you're working in a pub, or in a restaurant, it's not a job, it's a, it's a way of life. I mean, you're up at the crack, you might be doing the lines behind the behind the bar, which you know, you have to get up at like four in the morning to kind of flush them through before it all starts. And then the intensity that you get in the kitchen, it does seem like if, if, if anybody's out there, like looking to take on or be an entrepreneur, like opening a restaurant, you've it's like a baptism of fire, I guess, did you feel that at the time when you were doing that?

Unknown:

I didn't, I mean, you're 26. And I had managed to buy an apartment in London with a very small deposit in Greenwich, that's when when, when 26 year olds could buy apartments, that doesn't happen anymore, really. And I was able to make a profit and then take that into the restaurant. So I kind of was quite bullish, I kind of learned a little bit about, you know, you're visualising the outcome, you're kind of, you have to have quite a clear idea what environment you're trying to create, where you're going what the visually feels like. And I think if you stick to that trajectory, sometimes the model and the challenges at the early part you can overcome, because you're trying to get to the end game. But yes, it is exhausting. I mean, your body takes a lot of battering, you're moving around quickly. And chefs, you know, a great service, you can kick out 200 250 meals, it requires a lot of discipline, and you really have to engage and talk to the customer. So, but at 26, you're not really exhausted, because then you still went out afterwards. Yeah, shorter. So there's pockets. But then there was a point where that just was not sustainable. And the chefs were I would know to stop. And this was my business. I think when we were on to our fourth chef, two of them, one was had drug issues, one had a drinking issue, which is really quite common in the in the world of them restaurants. And then you tried to apply rules of HR discipline, and verbal warnings. And, and in the end, you're dealing with talent, and sometimes talent cannot have the straightforward HR process. So we did find ourselves with chefs that weren't as talented. But follow the HR process and were a little bit boring. And it was it was a bit of a baptism of fire. But but you know, we won awards, and we did well. But part of the trick in London or the overheads is keeping fresh, keeping it innovative. opening another restaurant, you just can't start with one. And I suppose I wasn't a chef. So when things did go wrong, I couldn't stand in the kitchen and take over. I couldn't deliver my vision. And I suppose that's what delivers longevity in the restaurant industry often is chef owner businesses, not an advocate for Corbin and Kane, where it but there is there is a lot of challenges around that.

PB:

Yeah, cuz I guess you have to be the master of your own destiny. And if you're delegating a lot of that responsibility to a good chef that can just stay sober throughout most of the night, then, yeah, you're laying a lot on the line. I mean, I remember. I remember working, like I say in that restaurant, and the chef's would be nice as pie during the day when they're off the shift. And then as soon as you get in there and the stoves are on, I mean, it's like a flick that gets switches. There's no time for pleasantries, there's no time for back and forth or banter is military. And it's ruthless. And if you've got a young or sensitive, you can get stripped down pretty easy. But

Unknown:

yeah, I remember having no just one anecdote was you know, we had one great chef used to work with a really fantastic restaurant Morrow and he cried when I made him make chips. And he was like, I'm not making chips. We would be pleading with them. I don't care what way the fried potato comes. But the conflict customer on a Friday is really interested in some fraction of a fried potato. And he refused to do it. He just cried. And we would have to hold his hand and persuade him that it wasn't a sleight of hand chair. But you know what that industry has modernised and changed, I don't think is hedonistic as it was in the early 2000s, I think a lot of the chefs now are not going either one in the morning, they're quite focused. And it's, it's a different environment for a large part of that industry.

PB:

But you touched on quite a keen thing earlier, when you when you mentioned about trajectory and environment and placing yourself within an environment that you'd actually want to be in and sustain it. So you kind of I'm guessing the that it was a lateral move to then go into wellbeing now that you're that you've launched anatomy, in fact, how long? And that's been in good?

Unknown:

Oh, just over three years. And, and yes, it's a little bit of a lateral move. But I was interested in, you know, different things. I was interested in chemists why in the UK are chemists, so awful. You know, Boots is a great place to go. But it's not exactly a pleasurable shopping experience. And when you're in Florence, or Rome, or Milan and other European cities, Switzerland, that beautiful pharmacies and their places of discovery, and there is a different tradition in those European cities have the handing down of recipes and formulations from generations. Whereas here in the UK, it's often I'm sick, what drug can I get to stop feeling sick? Whereas in Europe, it's about how do I make myself more at ease. And it's a little bit more preventative in terms of health, and well being. So I also had learned about really wonderful brown six sounds to me at the ballot as a very famous apothecary in Italy. And I sold it very dark. So I would observe those brands and understand what underpin them and what made them so comfortable after hundreds of years. And so I did see an opportunity to modernise what we might think of a London apothecary or a global apothecary. And you know, apothecaries, dealing in ingredients and formulations. And so that was that migration from the idea of a chemist and moving into a brand that specialises in formulations that support your well being but not necessarily a chemist?

PB:

Yeah. Do you have to do then? Like, do you have to be a connoisseur of all of these different ingredients? You have to put all the research in I mean, like you have dermatologists that dedicate an entire career.

Unknown:

Well, at Murdoch, I learned about perfumery. So we created my time and Murdoch's peak there and it's still doing well, but it's true. The current owners have changed it and made a little bit more mainstream. But we did have nine fragrances that drove a lot of the storytelling of the brand and, and retail sales, I think perfume was 40% of our retail sales. And because men and like anyone discover scent, it represents different facets of man or gentlemen, different tastes, palette to the breath scent is quite interesting. And so I did look at aromatherapy and there's booming growth, particularly in North America of aromatherapy, products and formulas, but those formulations don't often smell amazing. And aroma therapists don't necessarily look at the structure of scents with top, middle and base note. And there is a progression of aromatherapy called aromachologie, which is that blend of perfumery looking at structure of scent, but looking at the ingredients and how they perform. And I suppose historically, in the 16th 17th 18th century before the pressroom revolution, people were using extracts and essential oils to support their well being and then they were naturally scented because something smells beautiful because it's rolling properly in a really great environment or landscape or altitude. So I was educated in perfumery to some degree, but very much a novice. And then I did learn about skincare through product development. I learned about other aspects and when I didn't know something I went to experts to find out so we brought in some sports scientists from Loughborough University initially, I brought in nutritionists, dieticians and I spoke around the industry to understand highway should shape and inform the brand and actually, brands are a work in progress. What you start out with isn't often what you end up with, so you have to listen to the customer and navigate it. I mean when I opened anatomy initially we had like sports gear and really machines and I thought I was going to create this kind of palace of well being and then I quickly realised no brand and that's too broad a story and and you refine and refocus and refocus and gather, right and that's what part of the journey is creating a brand you have to react to what the customer is saying, and really listen, and go back to why did I create this? And what was my intention? Because sometimes you can veer off course and go, How did I get here? I know, I need to go back onto the main road.

PB:

And who is your customer? Would you say?

Unknown:

I think our customer a core is a youth seeking cosmopolitan urbanites. You know, they're, they're generally 35 upwards, a lot of them are in their late 40s 50s, quite conscious of their well being. And sleep is a big sales driver and a big focus for the brand, we have four different seed oils. So who would have no one just before developing the brand and may launch into a pandemic, does sleep becomes such a priority in a lot of people's minds and stressing about sleep and worrying why they can't sleep. So that is a big anchor for the brand. And then people are looking to put themselves at ease, less stress, more mindful, you know, they're more aware of their physical well being. And I think we touched about the kind of hedonistic aspect of the 2000s will know people are waking up and doing mindful practice. And they're, they're apparently doing yoga, and they're not necessarily drinking at the level that some of us may have done years ago. And so there's really, this urban. And it's not just the urban customer, but there is a customer base that's very aware about how they want to feel. And even those that are a little bit ratty and having fun, they still want to come back centre and be able to sleep and to be happy. And ultimately, maybe anatomy can support one's happiness.

PB:

I think you touched on a good thing there about how times have changed from our wonderful streaks of Hedden ism that you and I might have shared in our 20s. I remember, like working in the most dangerous of it offices where there wouldn't be so much as in a lower plant on a desk, you know, there was, I don't even figure out a window in my office for about four years. And now whenever I go out to other people's offices, because I'm Afridi property scanner, so I've had the opportunity to scan we work buildings and all this and that, and you have like beanbags, by the windows, you've got table tennis tops and stuff like that. I mean, it's almost like you can come and work if you want, but mainly we're just here to play. So it's the complete opposite of what I was growing up, growing up and used to, but it's so it's a it's a well being. Brand. And maybe you can just help us out with what is a good well, being regime may be something that you adhere to

Unknown:

dinner. I'm sorry, I was just interrupted there, excuse me. A routine. So I mean, I think I talked about sleep. And a lot of people have trainers or coaches or different ways of structuring their life. And it's quite, it's quite surprising, listening to people how they cannot sleep. I think what I've been learning is I'm particularly I'm 46. Not eating as much and as late in the night. I mean, yes, on a Friday night, it's great to go to the theatre and eat at 10 o'clock, but, but actually that really interferes with sleep. So I wouldn't be you know, it wouldn't put yourself under so much pressure the seven nights a week you have to have perfection, but creating a cow environment. Some steps have no TV, I don't longer have a TV in my room, I try to charge the phone away from the bed. And there's simple steps of using anatomy products or using someone else's formulations to help one get to sleep. Simple Steps of having a bath a couple of nights a week to get the body to relax and de stress and then waking up for me is an important routine where I get up at 615 630 I probably have coffee for 45 minutes, and then I go to the gym and not everyone you know can I don't have children so I don't have the demands in my life and maybe some other people have but for me that's the structure that works and going to the gym in the morning. Although I'm not a gym bunny, it does make me more productive and allotting that time. Instead of rushing out the door half eaten breakfast. I have a little bit more structure which works for me.

PB:

Yeah, I like the idea of no TV in the bedroom. I've had TV in the bedroom for the last three years I've just moved home and I thought I'm not going to have the TV in the bedroom so I phoned up sky and I said I don't want to have the multi screen anymore. Can you just take it off the bill and they said that I'm tied in for another year with multi screen so even her so that I kind of like a yin and yang I no longer got the TV in the bedroom which is now helping me sleep a bit more. I have the anxiety that I know I'm paying for it even though I don't have it in. So it's hard to get that work life balance sometimes.

Unknown:

Well, I think, at least on demand TV is good. Now we no longer need to channel we can decide when and what we're going to watch. It's just saying, I'm not going to watch the next episodes. I'm going to press I'm going to turn it off, which is the challenge. Sometimes I find myself in a daze where I'm thinking I must get through call my agent, just one more episode, and that really does asleep.

PB:

I find it really funny when people brag about binge watching boxsets see someone on Instagram going? Wow, just choked through another 10 episodes of drive to survive or whatever it might be. I'm like, that's not something that you shouldn't be advertising. That is pretty destructive behaviour in my book, but hey, yeah, I did. I did worse in my 20s. Brendan, where can where can people find you? Do you? Are you the man in the face behind the social media anatomy?

Unknown:

Well, I mean, we have a small team now and they're working. We're evolving the brand. But yes, we have three shops in London in Marylebone on children's streets. We have a pop up semi permanent shop in shortage which we're trying to make a permanent home which is a really great neighbourhood to be in. And then we're in another neighbourhood. Belgravia, which is just on a street called Motzkin Street, which is behind Hyde Park corner. And then you can discover us in liberty. And we're opening our first shop inside Selfridges on Brian floor next to kind of ASAP and Barbara Stern. So we are growing our little tentacles around London. And then we know wholesale on platforms like cold beauty into America sacks into Hong Kong Lane Crawford. So we're positioning the brand as an international brand. And and also we have a really fabulous immunity collection in hotels. So when you check into Claridges, and the Barkly, and the Carmax, hotels, all anatomy products are in the bathrooms, and you will shower and bathe anatomy. And then when you go to bed and you come into your room at 11 o'clock at night, you'll find a little anatomy sleep oil on the pillow to help you sleep just a little bit better. So you you only find us in the finest places

PB:

where the products made when

Unknown:

and where we sourced ingredients from all over the world but predominantly here in London and in the UK. So our essential oils are Blanchett and Hampshire. And our supplementation formulations are actually sorry, I correct myself are actually all made in America. We have American supplementation development is more advanced than UK. And we have really great formulas that we then import and they're our own formulas. And also in order to export. The FDA is just the American Standard is held in higher regard than the European standard. And then things like skincare and soaps are made here. And we're making a little bit in Italy as well. So there is a global supply chain I guess.

PB:

But you can still say stuffs made in the UK so when you're down in Selfridges next and you're you're thinking about the competitors brands, I think we should be sticking with anatomy. I'm going with you. Yes,

Unknown:

there are all our oils are made here and most of what we do and yeah, so it's all made here in the UK so so we do as much as we possibly can.

PB:

Amazing and doing the Lord's work. But one last question fear my sister, she's a beauty therapist and she's getting into skincare, she's gonna launch her own brand. And I'm telling her she needs like a USP, you need some because I feel like there is a bit of a tidal wave, especially in women's makeup and stuff like that she's gonna try and get it unisex. But do you have any advice for people that are starting up their own grooming products or their own skincare range? Something that you can offer them?

Unknown:

I think really visualise who your customer is, if she's creating a brand for a woman What is that woman wearing? What does she look like? Where does she go I wear what makes her happy? What is her home like? And I think you're making a product or a formulation or a dress for an individual and you need to immerse yourself in who she is. And she or he may be different to how you live your life. It could be completely different, but you should know who that customer is and understand them. And and so I gave you that example where I understand my customer is a cosmopolitan urban I kind of know where he and she wants to eat. They might go to the opera once a month they they are a member of Equinox or civilise so and they like to go on holidays and ski and I so I can construct that person and I can know how to create a brand too. match their lifestyle, but equally, so it could be someone who, you know, we mentioned boots to shops and boots and wants a very quick solution based product. And so you need to think, ultimately who the customer is. And that's what I would say to anybody. Because there is just no point in creating something that there's no customer for.

PB:

I think people that will shop with you, Brendan, they make their own bread, and they might grow their own min.

Unknown:

They could probably do they probably trim it up in the morning. And I imagine a lot of No, that's not true, but a lot of their lives are they're quite centred and they know where they're going. And which is not for everyone but about it's it's we're supporting them to be even better. I like to think.

PB:

Absolutely. And you can have private consultations or exit consultations on the website, I should say, which you can find that anatomy.co And we'll leave all the links over on the show notes at Menswear. style.co.uk In the meantime, Brendan, I know you got a hard out thanks for taking time to speak with me tonight and all the best with the future.

Unknown:

Indeed and thank you so much

PB:

you've been listening to the menswear style podcast be sure to head over to menswear style dot coat uk for more menswear content and email info at menswear store dot code at UK if you'd like to be a future guest on the show. Finally, please help support the show by leaving a review on iTunes or wherever you're listening to this podcast. Until next time

(Cont.) Brendan Murdock, Founder of anatomē