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Katy Theakston: My West Country

Katy Theakston: My West Country

The tag line for Katy Theakston’s exciting new company The Owl and the Apothecary says it encompasses Wildness, Wellbeing and A Little Bit of Magic. On meeting her I suspect she has all three of those things as well as a mega watt smile and an intoxicating radiance that comes from being almost 8 months pregnant. 

Katy moved from London to Bridport just over a year ago with a desire to change her life. She had one of those crazy city lives involving a big successful career, cool East End pad and an agonising heartbreak. So far so standard. But her quest for new beginnings seems to come more from her zest for life rather than her struggle with it. As a single girl, coming to a small village on the edge of a small town in the small county of Dorset, she has not only embarked on a new career adventure but is about to embrace single parenthood. This girl has guts. 

She chose Dorset via a circuitous route that involved a 3 week riding holiday in Uruguay and Argentina revisiting her Sussex childhood passion for horses and the need to ‘feel the wind in my hair’. On her return, unable to settle, she flicked through a copy of ‘Horse and Hound’ by chance and spotted the opportunity to ride with a local Dorset hunt. After riding with the hunt a few times – ‘whatever you do you just don’t let go’ – she fell in love with the county. It was only a matter of time before she made the move permanently. 

Katy has created a ‘luxury wild wellbeing experience designed to inspire and create positive change’ through beautifully packaged gift boxes. Each box contains products, ideas and tools to spark the imagination including delicious scented candles, bath oils and ritual cards. The brand, brilliantly conceived with a strong narrative, is due to launch a couple of weeks before her baby arrives. Her only concession to the madness of this timing is to utter a small 'eep!' and look completely unperturbed. Instead we focus on her appreciation of her new home…

What do you love about the West Country?

I love the amount of openness here not just in space and beautiful countryside but also with the people. When I first arrived here I spent weeks walking the fields and paths trying to get a better understanding of land I had promised myself to.  And I love the people I have met on the way, all interesting, creative, friendly and welcoming.

What is your idea of a perfect West Country weekend?

That’s very difficult to answer. It would have to involve a big walk, a picnic – I ruddy love a picnic – somewhere coastal like Eype or Burton Bradstock. Or a walk up Gerrards Hill followed by lunch at The New Inn in Stoke Abbott. And I could always find room for a delicious supper at Brassica in Beaminster. 

What is your favourite view?

Probably the one from my house up to Gerrards Hill. I look towards a ring of trees up there that I have renamed the Witches Circle.  Last midsummer eve I walked up there. I had a necklace of two hearts and I buried it underneath a tree to honour myself and my hope for a child. It really must be magic up there!

The best place for a campfire beach party?

Without hesitation Eype beach. I love the wildness of it.

How has your new business been shaped by your surroundings?

The business has totally been inspired by the wilds of the Dorset countryside. I have been lucky enough to be able to spend time walking and thinking about ways to start a commercial and creative business - grown and operated in the west. I started researching natural online retailers, subscription boxes, the unique gift markets and wellbeing and then added the overlay of experiences to inspire positive change…and The Owl & the Apothecary started to take shape from there. The countryside and all that lives in it are woven into the fabric of the business - with box names like The Intrepid Fox and The Beautiful Wild Rabbit and rituals encouraging people to get out under the night sky, the countryside is a very present part of the experience.

What are your ambitions for the brand?

I would love to see the experience side of the brand grow. To develop weekend retreats, wellness workshops, a festival that captures everything I love about The Owl and the Apothecary with women at the heart of the brand.

What is in your west country heart?

A massive amount of love and gratitude to the land and all it has given me over the last year. It has been an incredible experience so far which has contributed to the adventures of a new business and baby. Happy days!

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