This seems like a good January topic, because most of us are snuggled up at home with a bit more time on our hands.….
One thing I know that I am not good at, and I think it’s actually somewhat American if I can speak so broadly, is that I don’t take the time to make everyday routines more thoughtful and elegant. I am not speaking about meditating (though it could apply) or exercising, but rather those moments that I look forward to–my first cup of coffee in the morning, a bath, putting on a favorite Frances de Lourdes silk and cashmere t-shirt, and elevating them in a way that makes them better than average. It’s about being ritualistic, intentional and somewhat indulgent. Instead of “that will do” I want more of “that was amazing”. The Japanese, as far as I understand, are very ritualistic–from the way they present their business cards to others (held in both hands with a slight bow), to their tea ceremonies, to bathing and how they wrap gifts. Italians are very ritualistic about their coffee. Americans–we are a coffee-on-the-run culture. American women are constantly talking about finding “me time”, and so many feel guilty about doing so. Feeling guilty and being in a constant rush are no fun; I’m so over it.
Seeing how others approach rituals can have a profound affect, and a couple of the recent rituals I’ve added to my routine are because of women I’ve met who make them a priority. I got to know NYC-based Australian Tess Albrecht of Poetica Botanicals this summer at a jewelry trunk show. She is beyond lovely, and I was immediately drawn to her obsession with turning everyday routines–bathing, washing your hands and taking care of your beautiful clothes, into a fragrant botanical rituals. Her hand wash, lotion and bathing oils (launching next week, you can pre-order here) are heavenly-scented and self-explanatory, but it is her mist and delicate wash duos that turn putting on your favorite piece of lingerie or cashmere tee into a sensual experience. (I like to mist my FDL tees with it.) I asked Tess a few questions to further explain her path to creating Poetic and what it means to her:
Please share your background and what made you start Poetica.
Poetica brings together my love of nature and background in sustainable business.
Having grown up in Australia, an appreciation of the natural world comes easily. At the same time, I’ve always been interested in exploring the intersection between business and sustainable development through a creative lens.
This curiosity led to my career in emerging markets impact investing. Previously I managed global communications at a private equity firm focused on expanding access to healthcare and financial services across Africa and Asia. It was exciting work that took me from Sydney to London, with travel across Kenya, Ghana, India and everywhere in between.
I later moved to New York to be with my husband. I went back to school, completing an interdisciplinary masters in sustainable development at NYU with a focus on sustainable sourcing.
Poetica is the creative outlet that resulted – botting the best of the natural world with a focus on sustainable design.
Poetica is multi-faceted. How do you describe it, what is the intention with your products, and how is the brand different?
Poetica designs scented washing and bathing rituals. Ritual begins at creation, guiding our use of the finest botanicals from regenerative agriculture and philanthropic partnerships with nature conservation organizations aligned to each product scent.
Poetica is not a beauty brand – it’s a philosophy that encourages a connection to the natural world and a desire to protect it.
Everyone understands a good hand cream, explain why elegant garment care is something we should all want too.
In the spirit of elevating daily rituals, garment care is an opportunity to reimagine a mundane task as a pleasurable aromatic encounter. Better garment care also supports clothing longevity and reduces resources in a daily routine.
Around 25% of a garment’s lifecycle carbon footprint comes from the way it’s cared for, where washing is the dominant process, using 90% of household energy. And conventional detergents and dry cleaning practices use harsh petrochemicals including EPA-designated carcinogens like PERC, shown to remain in clothing and waterways after use.
So we designed Delicate Washes that require less water, chemicals and energy in use, and smell and feel gorgeous. Our Aromatic Mists continue the scent experience, refreshing pieces between washes.
What inspires you?
Travel. Being outdoors in nature. The visionary creatives I’ve had the pleasure of working with.
Do you have a favorite scent? How did yours evolve?
My favorite scents are forever rotating. Currently I’m wearing our Grandiflor Aromatic Mist, a dark floral inspired by the mystery of night-blooming flowers and exotic woods. It’s intoxicating yet grounding, the result of a beautiful collaboration with our natural perfumer.
In nature, I’m especially drawn to native Australian bush oils like kunzea, lemon myrtle and blue mallee eucalyptus. Australian botanicals are quietly infused into many of our products, a wink to the Australian rainforests I love and their fresh, herbaceous, spicy aromatics.
You just launched bath and body oils, how do you recommend using them?
Bathing is a time-honored ritual that spans cultures; in Hippocrates words, ‘healing begins with an aromatic bath’. And scented botanicals have a long-standing role in bath culture; lavender’s name comes from the Latin word ‘lavare’, meaning to wash, an ode to its regular use in Roman baths.
My suggested ritual? Pump a little oil into the palm of your hands to warm it up. Take a deep breath, bringing the palms to the nose, letting the scent transport you. Breathe out, gently massaging oil onto damp skin after your shower, or onto wet skin while in the bath. Our oils are designed with a base of wild-harvested jojoba, coconut and rosehip oils, chosen for their balancing and calming qualities, making them especially nourishing in the winter months.
My other ritual adjustment happened after I went to stay with the artist/interior designer Kelley Estes in Nashville for our collaborative trunk show. Her elevated coffee or matcha morning routine made me realize my regular drip coffee mornings were rather sad and basic. When I got home, I pulled out the cappuccino maker my mother-in-law gave me once that I never bothered to master, and bought the tea kettle Kelley had (which was in my holiday gift guide) and four cups from Atlanta based ceramist Charlotte Smith similar to Kelley’s, which have a weight that feels so good and cozy in your hand.
“I feel it is sort of purifying to give intention to the morning and enjoy that beautiful quiet time before the bombardment of the day. It really elevates it to have this ritual of preparation and enjoy it in a beautiful cup! Even more poignant is when I happen to get up early enough to enjoy a sunrise with my morning cup. It’s not often, but very rewarding when I do. ” Kelley told me. I don’t know about sunrises, but now I whip up a decent cappuccino or two every morning, and use my kettle for mint tea in the afternoon. I told Kelley that I was posting this and she emailed, “If you enjoy a bedtime tea (which I do in the winter) we use loose leaf chamomile tea that I drink it in the thinnest most beautiful porcelain cups imaginable. They are by Studio Vit. I can get them through Luminaire in Chicago. They are really exquisite!” Hmmm. Maybe I need an evening tea ritual with delicate porcelain. I also love Ted Muehling’s Nymphenburg Porcelain cups. Also, I had for the first time, Olive Leaf tea–it’s extraordinary, truly elegant. Olive leaf tea in a Studio Vit cup sounds divine.
That is it for my latest rituals, if you have any that you do please share–with details!
Denise Brady says
I love ritual. From warming the cream in my mug for my morning coffee to a martini ritual. And it is a ritual. The beautiful frozen glass, the Tito’s in the freezer….all elevated by the ritual.
Amy Tomaszewski says
I’m pretty good at daily rituals, but I am always looking for ways to up my game. These suggestions are like catnip to me!
My bath ritual is sacred time, from lighting a candle and pouring a glass of wine, to bath salts and lavender bath oil.