Every so often we come across a brand that resonates with us on a deeper level than just their products. Bashō Skincare is one of those brands. Created by two inspiring women, Mimi + Tor, they believe that nature can provide your skin with everything it needs to stay healthy and looking radiant, and as a result all ingredients are natural, and where possible organic. We sat down with Mimi + Tor to dive deep into the inspiration behind their brand, their views on sustainability and the calmness of life in Cornwall.
You’ve referenced 17th century poet, Matsuo Basho, and his poetic forms as an inspiration at the heart of your mission to provide natural skincare made with integrity. Could you take us through this inspiration and what else inspired you to create Basho?
Matsuo Bashō was a 17th century Japanese poet famous for his ability to capture and distil the transient natural world around him into perfect poetic forms - haiku. Every element in these poems is essential and considered, and this principle of profound simplicity and necessity is at the heart of our mission to make refined, organic skincare. Our products are pure, powerful and plant based, made in small batches to ensure optimum quality, without any of the unnecessary ingredients commonly found in beauty products.
A prominent aspect of haiku which resonates with us is the simple observation and appreciation of each season’s unique offering and beauty. This reflects our holistic and ritualised approach to skin and self care. We want to encourage everyone to tune into their own cycles and rhythms and respond to the natural flux of their skin, monthly, seasonally and over a lifetime. We believe there is great wisdom in listening to ourselves and observing our own unique changes.
How did you get started in the industry and what was your background before?
We hope that our unique backgrounds from creative and artistic industries have helped us shape a skincare brand that has a strong aesthetic and unique voice within the more conventional cosmetics industry. For example, we have deliberately chosen to avoid inherently destructive anti-ageing terminology that has been an industry standard. We want healthier, not younger skin. Basho stems from our personal skin journeys that have been integral in cultivating a deep interest in a holistic and natural approach to health and wellbeing, one which places the natural ebb and flow of our skin at its heart. We embrace the seasonality within ourselves, and celebrate our bodies as they transform and age, and that’s what we hope for Basho to inspire in others.
When you create a new product, what are the integral steps in the process and how do you select your ingredients?
Our products are all tailored blends to suit and treat specific skin types. Not only do we need them to be effective and targeted, but they also need to indulge all the senses. We begin by identifying which botanicals are going to be the most effective and suitable; they all have their own unique qualities, some are rich in vitamins and omegas, whilst others are antibacterial or anti-inflammatory. The scents we choose are complimentary in a therapeutic way and are based on the principles of aromatherapy. Based on this research we create our initial recipes which are developed after testing until we are satisfied that we’ve created something essential.
In an ever changing industry, where do you foresee the future of natural and organic skincare going and have you noticed a shift in consumer habits?
It’s clear that there is a growing interest in organic, non-toxic beauty products, as well as a demand for the industry to make more ethical and sustainable choices - especially in regards to the provenance of ingredients and the sustainability of packaging materials. We started this brand from a personal point of curiosity and to support other people in their journey towards a greater understanding of their bodies and skin. As with the organic food movement, there is a growing appreciation that what we consume affects our health and wellbeing. So too with the cosmetics industry, what we put on our skin deeply affects every element of our being. This calls for more transparency from within the industry as consumers demand honesty. We hope this momentum gathers and that Basho is a positive influence in these shifting standards.
When interviewing for your series “A conversation with muse…”, what draws you to the women you interview?
We want to celebrate women and their stories, especially those traditionally overlooked by the beauty industry. We are drawn to women who have wisdom and insight to share with our community, as well as those who are pioneering, creative and align with the Basho values of approaching health and wellbeing from a holistic perspective. We believe every woman has something of value to share with and inspire others and deserve to be celebrated.
Has working in the industry changed how you view natural and organic skincare and the process behind creating products, from sourcing ingredients to how products are packaged in a way that is sustainable?
From the very start, we had a clear set of guiding principles based on creating highly effective, natural products with no disruption to the harmony of our bodies and the environment. Working in the industry we are constantly confronted with the limitations in regards to ethically produced, recyclable or sustainable materials available - there are unfortunately still compromises which we have to make because of this. The more that consumers invest in ethical brands, the more we can pressure the manufacturers to offer greener alternatives. We are so inspired by all of the other brands who are doing such good work in raising awareness and providing products with integrity. We are proud to be part of a community which believes that collectively we can shift the standards of the industry.
What has been the most challenging aspect of running a business?
We have a vision of what Basho can become, but over the last few years we have only been able to grow slowly and organically due to the limits of our time and resources. This is the most challenging aspect of running our business. Yet it has also been a blessing, having the ability to consider each and every element with care and attention. It’s a constant balance of passion, ambition and patience.
With sustainability being a point of discussion within the beauty industry, could you tell us what sustainability means to you?
We have the deepest reverence for nature; for us it is vital and an essential element in our lives. From the lunar cycles to the seasonal shifts, it inspires and teaches us. This is the foundation from which Basho has grown. As much as we are concerned with skincare we are also responsible for protecting our precious environment. All of our plant based ingredients have been sustainably extracted and responsibly sourced. We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint and produce in small batches to ensure minimal waste. We use recyclable glass bottles and recycled paper and don’t use excessive packaging. As our business grows, we want to continue making more of these choices and use the brand as a platform to support environmental issues, and continue to collaborate with like minded businesses. Rather than seeking a quick fix approach, our products and philosophy have integrity and longevity in mind - they contribute to a sustainable and holistic approach to self care. In harmonising with our bodies natural systems and cycles they are a more sustainable option for skin health.
You both live in Cornwall (we’re very jealous). What is it like to live and work there with the slower pace of sea-side living?
Like many who live in Cornwall, we feel drawn to its natural beauty, we both have a deep love of this wild landscape which is an endless source of inspiration and energy. Basho ideas have been discussed on coastal walks and meetings held on beaches. Living at a slower pace allows for a deeper connection with nature and time to observe the ebb and flow within the seasons and ourselves. Drawing links between these universal patterns in nature and our bodies allows us to feel more aware and grounded. Creativity can flourish here amongst the space and quietude, supported by the artistic and artisan community. There is a great value on slow living, thoughtful consumption and a holistic lifestyle.
Images via Basho Skincare.