A Heritage As Organic As Our Products
Many people make hair product. And these days, many of those products at least purport to be natural. But there’s only one with a heritage in natural products dating back to British herbal medicine’s founding father.
That founding father was Hubert Mitchell. And it’s his grandson, Raoul Perfitt, who founded and is Managing Director of Herb UK.
“He was an amazing man who taught me so much,” Raoul says of his grandfather. “I feel overwhelmingly emotional when I think about him and the impact he’s had, not just on me but on the world.”
In the 1960s, alongside fellow herbalist Frederick Fletcher Hyde, Hubert founded the first association of herbal medicine, which later became the British Herbal Medicine Association. He began the process of standardising herbal medicine in Europe, helping to ensure UK and EU governments didn’t fold to big pharmaceutical company pressure to have traditional herbal medicines removed from sale, Raoul explains proudly.
Hubert came from a poor part of London, leaving school to train as a pharmacist. But WWII soon broke out and, as a conscientious objector, he worked the next half-a-decade as a lumberjack. It wasn’t until the world stopped fighting that he returned to his path of herbal medicine.
Hubert worked for renowned UK drug merchants and chemists Potter & Clarke developing herbal remedies, before establishing his own herbal import company and earning his founding father accolade. But while his work was a driving force throughout his life, another passion for Hubert was his family.
Raoul remembers his grandad reading his brother and him Asterix cartoons, always acting out the Obelix character with his “round” stature.
“I always felt a huge sense of security when I was with him,” Raoul says. “He had huge hands and forearms, right into his 80s. It must have been all that tree cutting as a youngster!”
But his hands and forearms were no match for his heart.
Hubert employed many people, often from similar backgrounds as his own, who simply needed a decent chance in life. They stayed loyally with him for years, something Raoul’s wife Louise sees reflected in her husband’s business today.
“Raoul sees business as a force for change and a force for good,” Louise says. “He sees what he does as a way of offering people a better future. Hubert was always so proud of him.”
Raoul believes his grandad would love the fact Herb UK continues to champion the use of plant products in all of its formulations, makes everything locally, and works hard to maintain a strong sense of family in the business. Hubert died in 2014 at the grand age of 92 but his legacy lives on.
“British herbal medicine is still going strong and the standards he set remain in place today,” Raoul says. “I still have all of his reference books on my shelf.”
And if Raoul could say one thing to his grandfather right now?
“Thank you for the arm around my shoulder and the wise words when I needed them. You were a compassionate, intelligent, emotional, and cuddly man and you continue to inspire me every day.”