The Interview – Jod Mitchell

Jod Mitchell in Aviator's Sky Bar


Jod Mitchell, owner of Mitchell and Peach, is the fifth generation of his family to be farming the Kent countryside. His love of city glamour and his nostalgia for the rural way of life are evident in his growing portfolio of exquisite bath and body products.

My earliest memories are of driving tractors around the family farm, and whilst I travelled extensively as a young man, working for an advertising agency in the US, and writing for radio and newspapers in London, and even surfing in Sydney, the lure of farming called me back.

In farming, diversification is important if you want longevity and success. For 5 generations we have grown mainly fruit but also geraniums, Christmas trees, hops, potatoes, strawberries and we?ve kept pigs. Before Mitchell and Peach was born I looked around at what we could do best, and Lavender came on the radar as something we could grow well in our climate. The more I looked into it, the more people I met who were thinking about doing the same thing. In our valley near Sevenoaks, there were 3 growers and we worked together from the beginning ? the advantage being that you can share expertise and key equipment.

Mitchell and Peach is a definite expression of my admiration for the heritage, aesthetics and techniques that are apparent in the luxury Bond Street stores, with the love I have for the rural way of life that has been in my family for generations.

Excellence is really important to me. Excellence in communications, branding and marketing ? the world is very commoditised. Commodities have their place, but in the area that demands something extra, at the higher end of any industry, you have to have a product which is both genuinely different and can be said to be different – and for good reason.

I don?t have many possessions that I value, but I have a really lovely old Longines watch that you can just tell by the look and feel of it that it is good quality, and that is something I cherish and will pass on with great pleasure. It improves with age.

Jod Mitchell of Mitchell & Peach.

The production process for our bath and body products is a long and complex one. The plant is planted, grown, cut, and steam distilled to extract the essential oils. Then those oils are dried, worked, and blended with other essential oils such as Ylang Ylang and Palmarosa. We blend by hand, and then combine with a base ? again by hand, and then those products are bottled – in small, carefully crafted batches.

Small details are extremely important to me – the glass we use, the print we use, the packaging we use ? all dictates a level of care that I believe makes a difference. All our soaps are hand-wrapped, and the calligraphy in our logotype is handwritten by a heraldic sign-writer. I spent a long time sourcing and securing the rights to our typeface – it?s the earliest sans serif typeface that people often say reminds them of Chanel.

I like it because it?s clean and timeless, and that?s a good thing. A lot of cosmetic packaging looks great now, but I question how they will look in 15 or 30 years? time. For me, timelessness is a sign of quality. I realise not everyone will notice these things, but to me they are important – my wife is my main contestor and unless we are all happy, a product will not go out. That?s really why we only have 7 products, because we want to ensure everything we send out is of comparative quality – as we intend the product to be.

I can?t think of any other company that is using only fine essential oils within their products for hotel rooms. Some claim to, and then you see the words ?nature derived? which means they are also paired with synthetics to reduce the natural content. In that sense we are not perhaps the most commercial company, but we know that if we get it right then our customers will be happy and our endeavour to produce the highest quality possible will be achieved.

Our customers tend to be people who appreciate quality, and we do our upmost to deliver it. Our products are made in small batches by hand in England with the finest ingredients – they don?t contain parabens and they support a 110 year old farm – an outcome I’m really proud to be achieving with the Mitchell and Peach products and hope to maintain for many years to come.

“They are made from the finest ingredients, they don?t contain parabens, and they support a 110 year old farm…”
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I find smells terribly nostalgic. I grew up with the smell of rabbits in the pot, the smells of gun oil, burnt leaves and wet dog? but I am also fascinated by glamour and excellence, and that combination of the two is reflected in my life. I?d like my kids to have that as well ? even if it just means taking them up to London to galleries and for special occasions ? I?d like them to have a sense of the wider world.

Chile is the most beautiful country I have visited. The landscape is mind-bending ? the Andes on one side and the Pacific on the other. There is a Robinson Crusoe Island off the coast which I love – the variety, the space, the peace, the natural beauty, the warm character of the people, the wine. It?s one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited, and if I had to settle outside Europe I would go there.

Chile isn?t known for its food but it has terrific delicacies – wonderful seafood, lovely little pastries called Empanadas, which are a bit like a pasty, but I love old world food. I love French and Italian food and I?m a sucker for a buttery sauce! If I was choosing a gastronomic weekend, I would definitely go to Paris or Tuscany.

Good service and a good staff attitude is fundamental to any leading hotel. For me, the first welcome is vital. If you feel like you are being welcomed into somebody?s house and they are genuinely pleased to see you, I think it is an extremely positive start. I also think the amenities need to be good ? good bedside lighting, simple temperature control, reliable WiFi. Thereafter I?d like some good bathroom products!

The Cipriani in Venice is my favourite hotel. The attitude of the staff is so warm, and it has an incredible location on Giudecca and a big, big pool. The romance of the Cipriani and setting is simply irresistible.

My children seem to be my travel accessories these days! I like to take an FT Weekend (as I can only ever read a paragraph at a time), and I do always try to take a good book. I?m reading Peter Ackroyd?s biography of London at the moment ? it?s taken me ages to read it, but it?s fascinating. I would also pack one of our travel collections, and my wife uses our hand creams for flying. I start off packing glamorous things, but I inevitably end up taking baby wipes!

I like the Italian version of English style and I also like a smart rural style. I have an old Swaine Adeney coat passed on to me from my Dad ? it looks as if it comes from the 2nd world war, but the quality of craftsmanship is superb ? it?s just going to go on and on. I like wearing English shoes from Church?s, in fact I love all English leather goods ? particularly a Swaine Adeney satchel. I also think good wellington boots are fundamental. At work I tend to wear an open-necked shirt and a decent pair of shoes from Church?s, although the office is a dusty barn, it?s not Mayfair!

The name Mitchell and Peach was chosen to reflect the tactile nature of the product. We were thinking about fragrances during the flowering season, and when you pinch Lavender to release the oil from the base, it has a very peachy fragrance, with a fruity, delicate slightly herbal aroma, and that was the brief to the perfumer to create. Mitchell is a fairly prosaic British name, and I liked Peach because it added a certain lustre to the name, our scent is quite uplifing, and it seemed to reflect that.

I think the future is about us continuing to progress what we do. We will begin replanting in about 18 months? time, which will double our plantation size, and we are currently doing some trials for new products. We?ve found that the shells of cobnuts are a great exfoliant, and we?re looking at using some of the honey from our hives. We will stick at what we do best and try to keep up with all the interest we are getting. It?s a very exciting time.

The plan is to keep moving and reinventing. This is just a chapter in a long family story. If I can raise the profile of British farming in this niche we are in I?m going to be really happy. It feeds my soul and it perpetuates something that?s very important to me – the story of farming.