Meet Frances Shoemack | Sala Studio, Auckland, NZ

Abel founder and former winemaker, Frances Shoemack, tells us the story behind everyone’s favourite natural parfumerie along with some life changing advice.

Jan 28, 2022

Meet Frances Shoemack | Sala Studio, Auckland, NZ
Meet Frances Shoemack | Sala Studio, Auckland, NZ

Abel founder and former winemaker, Frances Shoemack, tells us the backstory behind everyone’s favourite natural parfumerie along with some life changing advice we all need to hear.

Hey, who are you? What do you do and where do you live?

My name is Frances Shoemack, I’m the founder of Abel. Mama to Rufus and Arthur. Wife to Dave. Rookie gardener and surfer, less rookie yogi and cook. We live on the hillside overlooking Ōwhiro Bay, a little gem of a coastal settlement, a 20 minute (electric) bike ride from downtown Wellington.

What inspired you to start Abel?

10 years ago while living in Amsterdam I was looking for a natural perfume and couldn’t find one, at least one that was modern, chic and sold in beautiful spaces. The idea for Abel was born with a mission to create the world’s best natural perfume without compromising on ethics or aesthetics. We now call Wellington home (before Christmas we launched our very own Fabriek in Aro Valley) and sell in over 30 countries around the world but our mission hasn’t changed, it’s only grown.

Where do you see Abel in the next five years?

Still learning, growing, and evolving on our journey. Achieving deeper levels of R&D, pushing more boundaries. Championing causes we believe in, the beauty of nature, the use of natural science, and inspiring and educating our customers.

How did you hear about SALA? What made you want to collaborate?

Several years ago in Amsterdam, I met Sarah the girlfriend of a friend (Josh) before they made the move to NZ. Sarah told me she was a yoga teacher and that it would be cool to create a studio in Auckland in a very casual way… I pictured a little studio on the side of a house, not the incredible wellness institution that SALA is. When we had the opportunity to place our perfume in the SALA bathrooms it felt like such a beautiful coming together of the two brands - celebrating (all) the senses, being present, and bringing to life wellness rituals.


What’s your go to mood elevator?

It's cheesy but true... a spray of Green Cedar perfume, it's like coming home. Never ceases to make me feel simultaneously grounded and awakened.

Why is rest important? Describe your dream rest day.

Rest is everything (says she after a proper summer break!). Without a full battery, we can’t expect our body, mind and heart to give their full capacity. We’re pretty strict on Sundays in our house - screen-free, slow, normally a yoga class for me, a run for my husband, music, reading, gardening, time spent preparing and enjoying wholesome food and beautiful time with our little family unit.


Wellbeing is…?

Whatever brings you peace, true peace. I’ve found rituals and repetition helps a lot, the peace of not questioning, just surrendering to the commitment you've made to yourself. For me the past 6 months it’s been integrating a daily ocean swim into our life. The cold water (and it is cold, even in summer!), and the time in that expansive space just the two of us (Dave and I), it puts everything into perspective and on the days I feel like it the least, it gives the most.

If someone was visiting your city, what’s the one thing you’d tell them to do? 

The south coast for a walk along the beach, such a beautiful, rugged coastline frequented by locals doing every possible extension of ocean activity. On a good Wellington day (i.e. the sun is shining and the wind is down) you’ll think it’s heaven, on a typical Wellington day (gale force winds) you’ll feel more alive than you have done in ages. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

A darling girlfriend once told me when I was struggling with mama guilt as a new (working) mum - whenever you start to feel guilt, why not flip that and feel gratitude instead? Gratitude that you have two such incredible things in your life to balance and a structure in place that can allow you to do that…. Etc. Life is changing, to this day.