Owner mined Crabtree & Evelyn's long history to reinvent its Iris series

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 October, 2010, 12:00am

Most people play favourites with lifestyle and home care brands; few take it to the level that Sandra Lee has with Crabtree & Evelyn. The Malaysian businesswoman loved the brand so much, she and her husband Lee Oi Hian's company KLK acquired it a few years ago.

'I first came across Crabtree & Evelyn products 18 years ago at a boutique hotel in the US during a vacation with my husband,' Lee said at a floral-scented press conference at the Grand Hyatt on Monday. 'I've been a fan ever since.'

The past year has been busy for Lee (pictured, right, with her husband) at Crabtree & Evelyn. She has stepped up its corporate social responsibility activity, partnering with Malaysia's ministry of women to develop a skills-training programme for fair-trade products. She's also overseen the creation of holiday season and gift editions of fragrances, lotions and home accessories.

Lee's personal fondness, however, lies in the brand's English heritage. 'I love going over the intricate illustrations that have been collected over the brand's history. It is such an untapped and valuable resource.'

Her excavations have led to the reinvention of the Iris series, which was the theme of a Crabtree & Evelyn 25th anniversary gala on Monday night.

Model Ana R, obligingly dressed in shades of violet for the event, said: 'I've been using Iris products all week, so my whole house smells like a floral bouquet; even my dogs.'