A chat with Elijah Choo – the genius behind Bodhi.

Elijah Choo is a botanical genius, the leading light behind the stunning range of Bodhi botanical therapies. This is an amazing range of gels and bath therapies which, in just a year, have gained a cult following (me included!) and have recently been nominated in the UK beauty awards for best new product. I have been lucky enough to get the very busy Mr Choo to spare a few minutes to answer some of Fashion-Mommy’s questions about one of my most beloved brands.

1. Describe Bodhi for the uninitiated.
Bodhi is an eco-luxury skincare brand launched in Birmingham last September. Bodhi means “enlightenment”. Our namesake is our guiding mantra: to create honest, natural products that are not only indulgently pleasurable to use, they are also highly effective. Inspired by traditional global remedies, our inceptive collection Botanical Therapies is packed full of exotic premium ingredients that are ethically sourced from sustainable origins.

Picture by Edward Moss Photography

2. Bodhi’s success is clearly growing – what do you think is making it stand out from other bath and shower products?
I’m thrilled that Bodhi has garnered as much success and a strong following within such a short space of time. A lot of love and devotion has gone into our products and I hope that this comes across. I believe it is a combination of factors that make Bodhi stand out: the distinct packaging, the signature fragrances, the natural ingredients and the instant therapeutic qualities our products have on your skin and your senses.
3. Bodhi is full of beautiful fragrances – where do you get your inspiration from?
The fragrances and therapeutic benefits of Bodhi go hand in hand. Inspiration comes from everywhere; my travels, my intrigue with traditional medicine and home remedies, my life experiences. It can come from the most unexpected places. Scent is a very powerful sense that conjures up distinct and vivid memories in a flash. Bodhi fragrances are my way of capturing those happy memories.
4. What everyday smells do you love?
Smell is a very private journey for me and some of my favourite everyday scents would be inappropriate to mention here! I love the scent of wood. Restoring my home, Bittell Farm, has been a joy as I am constantly exposed to the divine aura of old English oak. Our garden is filled with a multitude of fragrant herbs, flowers and fruit which constantly excite my senses through the seasons. My favourites are my daily cup of Bai Mudan white tea and my beloved labrador – they are some of my grounding pleasures.
5.What is your personal favourite Bodhi fragrance?
Oh, this is difficult one. Each Bodhi fragrance represents a part of my personality and my favourite changes according to the season, the time of day and my mood. If I really have to pick a fragrance, I would say it’s the ever reassuring Rosemary Chi. The new Rosemary Chi Reviving Body Moisturiser is my personal enlightenment in a bottle. I hope it’ll be your new favourite too.
6. You have been nominated for a beauty award – what would it mean to win?
To be shortlisted for a UK Beauty Award is a great honour for any brand, let alone one that is barely a year old. To be ranked amongst long-established names like Liz Earle, NEOM, Famous Dave’s and Lucy Russell Organics is an accolade. To win would mean that what Bodhi stands for and we set out to achieve is appreciated and recognised – it would mean a great deal to me and to all who have unconditionally supported Bodhi.
Such a lovely, and unassuming person. Thanks to Elijah for taking the time to answer my questions. For more information about Bodhi, please visit the website www.bodhi.uk.com.
To win yourself some Bodhi goodies, follow the link to the article below.

 

Ethical Jewellery – The way forward.

Child labor, can't we try to stop it?

Image via Wikipedia

Fashion-Mommy has always considered herself to be a bit of a magpie. Since I was a young girl admiring my nan’s very heavy, charm laden bracelets, I have had a love of beautiful jewellery. But I have never really considered the origins of my much treasured pieces. Not once have I questioned whether my beautiful black and white diamond wedding ring was created from ethically sourced minerals. vulnerable workers, child labour , exploitation and appalling working conditions that include the use of toxic chemicals like cyanide and mercury and zero health and safety considerations were outside the remit of my safe and cosy world.

But today, I had my eyes opened widely. I was lucky enough to attend the Brilliantly Birmingham seminar looking at the world of Ethical Jewellery. The seminar/discussion was chaired by The Guardian’s ‘Life and style’ editor Kate Carter, an expert in ethical fashion, with a panel consisting of Fifi Bijoux’s Vivien Johnston, Sara Preisler, the Birmingham based jewellery designer and founder of the Sara Preisler gallery, Fair Trade and Human Rights campaigner Greg Valerio, the founder of Cred Jewellery, and Professor Jack Cunningham PhD, Head of Birmingham University‘s School of Jewellery. What followed was an interesting and tought provoking afternoon, with clear messages that the beautiful objects that are so precious to us, may be the cause of suffering, cruelty and a horrendous existence for others.

Fifi Bijoux’s Vivien Johnston opened the seminar. Fifi Bijoux has cleverly become  a leading ethical jewellery brand whilst still appealing to the High Fashion glossies like Vogue and Grazia. Regularly showing at London Fashion Week and appearing in Marie Claire, Fifi Bijoux is fully committed to sourcing jewels from socially and environmentally responsible mines. Vivien started her career in Jewellery working for a large commercial company, sourcing gems and gold. It was during this time that Vivien became aware of the horrors of the mining industry, the unfair working conditions, the use of child labour involving children as young as 6 years old, blood diamonds, and the use of chemicals like mercury which lead to the miners inhaling vapours and handling substances that have severe health implications. Vivien’s horror that our luxury items come from such horrific human rights abuses and environmental costs led to her determination to produce her own jewellery using ethically sourced gold and platinum, and gemstones that have not involved the use of child labour. Fifi Bijoux was formed in 2006 with the message ‘we believe it luxury as it should be; without the blood, sweat and tears…’

Vivien Johnstone, founder of Fifi Bijoux

Fifi Bijoux starfish earrings

Fifi Bijoux Radiate pendant

The pieces are beautiful, fashionable and ethical. My personal favourite is the beautiful ‘Radiate’ pendant, which is a stunning design piece. The starfish earrings are cute and fun, showing that ethical jewellery can be young, funky, fashionable and totally covetable.

Professor Jack Cunningham from The University of Birmingham almost played devils advocate during the discussion.  He discussed how gold has been a constantly recycled mineral since the time of the Aztecs, making it difficult to ever really know the complete provenance of the jewels we own. He cited the use of Brinks Mat bullion in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter during the 1980’s as an example of this. I was struck by his comment that ‘the jewellery trade is the dirtiest business on the planet – but we know this when we enter it.’

The third speaker was Sara Preisler, a jewellery designer who is committed to doing her bit to make the industry a little less dirty. Based in Birmingham since 1993, and the founder of the Sara Preisler gallery which showcases a range of different designers from many genres, Sara concentrates on changing our perceptions of the beauty, and in particular, the concept of preciousness relating to sparking gemstones and ostentatious jewels. Sara believes that you can be responsible from where your materials come from if you are working on a small-scale and producing objects from scratch. Like Fifi Bijoux, Sara’s beautiful objects have attracted a starry clientele list, including The Royal Shakespeare company, Molton Brown and Selfridges.

Sara wants to help change our perceptions of beauty. She is not interested in large rocks and sparkle. She explained that thought and consideration can also be considered precious and says it is important that any piece of jewellery maintains a ‘hand made, considered identity throughout’.

Circle ring by Sara Preisler

The final speaker was Greg Valerio.   A Fair trade and human rights campaigner, Greg was the introduced Green/gold wedding rings to the UK and was the founder of the Cred fine jewellery company. Greg has a hard-hitting message about jewellery production, believing that we are intentionally screening out the source of our jewellery products because the source is not beautiful. He continues that there is ‘nothing beautiful or romantic about cruelty.’ Greg has facts and figures to back this up. Small scale mining is the 2nd biggest employer in the world, employing 100 million people, but it is a poverty driven livelihood, with most gaining payment of less than $2 per day. Greg believes that we need to articulate a new way of being jewellers, with a commitment to safer working practices and community managed profits.

From February 14th, a day when traditionally a lot of jewels are presented as romantic gifts by our loved ones, ethically sourced gold will have a new hallmark. The fair trade and fair mined gold standard will follow a stringent set of rules that will provide clear traceability for your gold jewellery. This is a huge step forward in terms of the fair trade fight in the jewellery industry.

So, next time you admire a piece of gold, or some humongous diamond, ask yourself, what suffering went into creating something so beautiful. It may not appear quite so appealing if you actually take a minute to answer that question…

Thomas Sabo hits Birmingham.

The great and the good of Birmingham turned out in force to celebrate the opening of the Bullring’s newest, ‘must visit’ store, Thomas Sabo.

The store, renowned for its exquisite silver jewellery, opened its doors last Thursday with a special launch party for selected VIP‘S (including Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish) on Thursday evening. A glamorous party area, resembing a Thomas Sabo Jewellery box, was set up in the Bullring’s Lower Mall, and guests were treated to an endless flow of Champagne and beautiful rose cupcakes, which had been hand-made and decorated for the event.

The party had a dark, gothic theme. Models specifically hired for the event served drinks and cakes whilst channelling Victoriana chic in black top hats and tails, and velvet frock coats and little veiled hats. This proved to be a fabulous backdrop to the stunning pieces of Thomas Sabo jewellery that was being worn, including the exquisite angel wings pendent. Thomas Sabo dignitaries were also dressed in elegant black, which lent a ‘Twilight’ air to the proceedings. Twinned with the blood-red rose cupcakes and the black velvet of the party area, there was a decadent, sexy feel to proceedings.

There were Thomas Sabo brochures and catalogues on the tables for guests perusal, so there was much discussion about the famous ‘Charm Club’ and its amazing range of intricate charms. Everyone seemed to have their personal favourites, my personal favourites being the wide range of shoes that are perfect for any budding fashionista. The brochures sent many guests off on a little shopping exhibition straight to the new Thomas Sabo store!

And what of the new store? It’s a beacon of style, with its bright and shiny interior and exquisite pieces of jewellery you’ll just long to own. All the iconic charms are on display, and look even prettier when you see them in the flesh (So to speak!). The staff are helpful and friendly. The decor is modern and stylish, and the store certainly looked eye-catching with the striking models outside the store attracting much attention and photographs.

As the happy and impressed guests left the launch party, Thomas Sabo had one more surprise up its bracelet adorned sleeve. Each guest was presented with a voucher for a special goodie bag. This contained  an exclusive Thomas Sabo diary, a striped hatbox style jewellery box, a ruby-red rose corsage and a little bag of sweeties. This goodie bag says everything you need to know about Thomas Sabo jewellery – it is stylish and will always impress.

So next time you are in the bullring, pay a visit to Thomas Sabo. I promise you will not be disappointed!