If you go down to the woods today you’d better not go alone…especially not in China where you might be witnessing one of the biggest bear jamborees on earth. It seems that a fad of huge proportions was born this past year. The Bridestowe Lavender Estate in Tasmania had been selling only the occasional Bobbie Bear in lavender plush stuffed with dried lavender, ten a month or so up until 2013, when a Chinese actress posted a picture of herself with Bobbie on social media. Bobbie was, according to Zhang Xinhu, the perfect companion on a cold night in Shanghai.
After that, Bobbies began selling like crazy, up to 4 thousand a month and Bridestowe was at the limits of its lavender production. That was when their problems really began.Shortly afterwards the Chinese concern which Bridestowe had subcontracted with to manufacture the material for the
Bobbies’ plush coats began making Bobbies of their own. The stage was set for a battle over the business. Bridestowe was forced to withdraw from the bear market for a time…
Bridestowe is back with more lavender bear products now, and a new plan to expand its original business in Asia. I hope they succeed. But what an interesting turn of events! Shortly after lavender became material non grata in Western perfumery, it has become the core of a monster business in China. This does make you wonder how wise it may have been for IFRA to impose a near ban on lavender?
Bridestowe sells lavender soaps and sachets as well as the Bobbies who seem to come in larger and smaller sizes, the larger one also being a heating pad. The estate which is a hundred years old, was established to grow lavender for the essential oil, by its founder, a British perfumer. These days essential oil only forms part of the market of Bridestowe, and not the largest part either.
If most of the EO goes to Japan, most of the foot traffic the estate attracts comes to Tasmania, another big source of revenue, plus the Bobbies, cosmetics and lavender ice cream bring in more profits than the old essential oil production did nowadays. It seems that Bobbie Bear has helped put Tasmania on the map.
At the same time in Provence there is a blight on lavender plants, Phytoplasma Stolbur, carried by leaf hoppers and posing a real threat to the lavender production in Southern France. Some of the fields have small almost shriveled plants.
These are bad times for lavender lovers, I’ve written already about a faux estrogenic scare from lavender products, but this seems to have blown over, and in the meantime there is no really good substitute for lavender. Nothing else mimics lavender effectively, as the Chinese know by now.
Add to these misfortunes the rather silly EU decree that all lavender must be classified as a chemical, and that therefore all producers and distillers must meet the same rigorous tests as chemical producers do for their products. This for a substance that has been tucked into sheets and perfumed baby layettes for a thousand years and more. It’s simply unbearable…