Be Conscious: Haeckels
Natural beauty. It’s what we all want, right? Who better to set us on our path than the charismatic king of sustainable skincare, Dom Bridges. Founder of Margate-based beauty brand Haeckels, we’re delighted to welcome the label’s indulgent treatments and scientifically-proven formulas to Browns Brook Street, where they will be offering facials, bespoke scent creation and more as part of our new Residencies series. With an origin story that is as inspiring as it is innovative, we take a deep dive into the Haeckels universe...
Hello Dom! Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Dom Bridges, founder of Haeckels. We’re an ocean exploratory skincare and fragrance company, but more than that I guess our products allow us to explore materials and sustainable solutions. I’ve lived in the US and worked all over the world, finally taking up residence in Margate for the last ten years which is where I founded Haeckels.
How does Margate inspire your work?
Margate reminded me who I am and in many ways made me who I am today. It reaffirmed my love for the ocean, but also offers an urban multicultural neighbourhood, as it’s important for me to be around different communities. I’m on the beach every day surrounded by raw nature and an uninterrupted horizon line of creative meditation. I love it.
Let’s talk about how Haeckels began. Can you talk us through your origin story?
So I’m directing a shower gel commercial, and the agency removes the product and puts a chemical in, as it will foam better for the camera. I suddenly realised I couldn’t do that job anymore. I walked outside the studio and saw everybody eating hamburgers and I realised that’s what I did as a job: I sold things people didn’t need. I wasn’t celebrating the tradition of local, I was promoting mass consumption and helping move it around the planet. So I quit.
I moved to Margate with my wife Jo to chill out; I started cleaning the beach, Jo started making another human being. I thought I’d make a bar of soap for everyone out of seaweed - and now I’m here!
Can you tell us about some of the sustainable initiatives within your brand?
Our plantable packaging is effectively a seed bomb with wildflower seeds embedded in a paper outer [meaning you can plant the packaging!]. We grow Bio-contributing mycelium boxes to order, limiting waste completely, and we also offer free products if people clean beaches - not just locally but globally. We're also removing pipettes for our skincare products, replacing them with simple glass tubing.
When making a product, what are the important factors to consider?
Relevance is key. Does the world need this? What is its true purpose? What does it stand for? These points are super important to me. With these in check you begin to form something new and exciting.
Do you have any stories about a giant mishap or something that didn’t go to plan?
Like almost drowning the first time I put waders on to harvest seaweed on a pitch black morning at 4.30am with no one around…?
Which products are most popular with your customer and why?
The most popular is Algae Plump + B3. It's our ocean-derived hyaluronic acid serum. The results are very noticeable. It was a lockdown release and occupies a soft spot in all of our hearts as a turning point for the company.
Can you talk a bit about mixing science and nature?
We rely heavily upon the scientific community - they have helped and supported us since I started the company. I also see them as a necessity, as I’ve little interest in #purebeauty or the like - pseudoscience is dangerous and just as devious as any other form of advertising. Let’s get real and support each other for better products, better communication. By allowing customers to demand more, we cull unnecessary brands and save the planet from manufacturing drain.
How do you feel about being a beauty influencer these days?
I don’t take it lightly. It’s important to be informed and to further the industry. It’s not about sales or cool factor, it's about creating the best relevant product and being inquisitive. To pull apart and rebuild. There are a lot of bad things in the beauty industry, but there is also positivity and a need to feel good about ourselves. I want people to have confidence - the confidence I’ve never had.
Can you talk us through the process of creating a bespoke fragrance?
Bespoke isn’t: “Mix these oils together,” it’s: “Let’s chat and discuss memories, travel, music, experience…” I want it to be an adventure - what’s your most obscure scent fetish or memory? Let’s make that memory for you. Let’s really explore what scent is and its power.
What is the most abstract bespoke scent you’ve ever created?
Probably not abstract, but strange would be the scent of football stickers for the artist Ryan Gander.
What does Browns smell like?
It smells of home, which is unusual, not only for a store but also for Mayfair. I find the space inviting and welcoming - someone’s home but also everyone’s home.
What can visitors expect from your Residency at the Parlour?
Something unique but also real; a tranquil time out within the building, cleverly bringing the garden into the store using scent created using clippings taken from the garden itself.
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