Pillow Talk: The founders of lifestyle brand Earl of East’s night-time routine

We sit down with Paul Firmin and Niko Dafkos, co-founders of lifestyle brand and store Earl of East, to discuss all things sleep. After starting as a market stall in 2014, the brand now has three stores (including a new Soho branch) in London, an online shop, and its own line of home fragrances and bathing products all produced sustainably. Their unique scents are currently stocked in over 250 stores worldwide, and their success has led them to collaborate with brands such as JW Anderson, Selfridges and The Great Frog. Now, let's unwind... 

Sum up what you do in five words? 

Curate,  create, collaborate, community, candles.

Why did you start Earl of East – what gap in the market did you spot? 

We wanted to feel like we were part of London’s creative maker community, and create a home fragrance bath and body product line that would celebrate enjoying a little ritual over routine. 

What’s next for your brand?

There is a lot going on. We are still very much establishing our newest lifestyle store in Soho but are also working on new products and expansion into other markets. 

Being an entrepreneur can be tough! How does your workload reflect in your unwinding/self care routine? 

We started this business as a side hustle, so striking a work-life balance then and even today has been a challenge. That said, self-care has been really vital as we’ve grown. Our evenings and weekends are sacred. We ensure we take default baths and have time away from our devices. We have also limited our drinking to help us keep a clear mind. 

On a scale of 1 – 10, how much do you love your sleep? 

10 without doubt. We always make sure we get our eight hours. 

What time would you ideally like to go to bed, as opposed to what time you really end up in bed? 

Truthfully, we would love to go to bed at around 9:30pm, but it’s usually around 11pm by the time we have fully unwound. 

What’s your usual reason for going to bed late? Work… scrolling through Instagram? 

Work more than anything else. Our working day starts at around 8am, and the stores don’t close until 7pm, so we give ourselves time to spend with each other and relax. 

What side of the bed do you sleep on? 

There are two of us, so one on each side!

What kind of sleeping position do you normally find yourself in? Do you sleep on your back, or are you more of a fetal position kind of person?

We sleep in the fetal position with Piper, our dog, comfortably slotting in between with his head on the pillow.

Light sleeper or heavy sleeper? 

A combination depending on how busy work is. We generally both fall asleep easily but also wake within the night, especially if things are full on. 

Morning bird or night owl? 

I don’t really think we are either. Lie in’s don’t really happen, but we barely speak to each other until the coffee hits on the morning walk. 

How do you unwind before bed? Can you walk me through your routine…

Evenings often include a bath or shower, which really helps us to unwind. Our new Shinrin-Yoku All Over Oil is a game changer for helping to feel calm and grounded and is always used in the bath and shower. We are very much TV dinner-based during the week, so we always have a series on the go to avoid losing a night to YouTube and memes. This is relatively early, and other than the ritual of preparing the bed, using sleep spray and taking CBD, it’s a really low-key affair. 

Do you read before bed? If so, what can’t you get enough of at the moment? 

No reading, and we try to avoid tech, too. 

What products/items are on your bedside table? 

Egyptian Magic all-over balm, Trip CBD, our Nerumae Sleep Spray and water. 

What’s the weirdest thing next to your bed? 

Not really sure there is one. 

Do you sleep with your phone next to you? 

No, it’s at the opposite end of the room, out of reach. That way, when the alarm goes off, we have to get out of bed.

What can’t you go to sleep without doing? 

Sleep spray, CBD tincture and Egyptian Magic for hands and lips. It does sound a bit odd reading it back. 

How does your nighttime routine change when, say, you’ve been out late on Friday night?

Oh, that doesn’t happen. We are always in the stores over the weekend, so Friday is like our Sunday. 

Can you walk me through your nighttime skincare routine? (The more detail, the better!)

The face wash we use rotates often depending on what’s new in our store. We are currently using the Koa Yuzu Facial Cleanser, which is new to our store and really refreshing. The fallback product is the in two minds cleanser from Aēsop, followed by Guy Morgan’s Dagger Rose Treatment Balm, which is one of our best sellers in-store and just an incredible product. We have quite a strict dental hygienist, so we’ve really taken to a full routine, including using floss and tipis, which has reduced dental issues. Once in bed, the routine is Egyptian Magic all-over balm for hands, lips and around eyelids. Trip CBD tincture under the tongue before bed – it definitely feels like we sleep better with it, but we are also never sure if it’s a placebo effect, and our Nerumae sleep spray is rigorously spritzed in the air above bed and on the pillows. 

What can’t you go to sleep without doing? 

Sleep spray, CBD tincture and Egyptian Magic for hands and lips. It does sound a bit odd reading it back. 

What do you do if you can’t sleep? 

Sleep meditation podcasts on Spotify always help, and if the mind is really wandering, get out of bed, go to the spare room and try breathing exercises until things calm.