I’ve been reading Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore, a wonderful Hindu writer and poet. At this time of year when the days are slowly lengthening and the seeding and planting intensifies at the workshop, I find one of his Song Offerings deeply soothing. I’m not religious at all but I love the idea that everything works out in the garden if we trust that it will. If we can allow ourselves the time to gently work with the soil and the plants, the flowers will follow with or without us. It gives perspective on our place in the scheme of things and provides comfort in the knowledge that nature reproduces not because of us, but rather despite us – in the best scenario we are just the facilitators of the flowers we hope to encourage.
“On many an idle day have I grieved over lost time. But it is never lost, my lord.
Thou hast taken every moment of my life in thine own hands.
Hidden in the heart of things thou art nourishing seeds into sprouts, buds into blossoms, and ripening flowers into fruitfulness.
I was tired and sleeping on my idle bed and imagined all work had ceased.
In the morning I woke up and found my garden full with wonders of flowers.”
(Gitanjali, Song Offering no 81)
This made me think about the current buzz phrase #slowbeauty. I use it myself and see it dotted around social media all the time, but begin to think that my understanding is an extension of the usual usage. Slow beauty is generally a call to take care of ourselves, to carve out the time to make ourselves a priority, something most women struggle to do, however to me slow beauty is so much more than that, for it informs the entire approach we have to skincare.
As a maker, it is about taking the time, the months and years to be well informed, to develop a philosophy, to gain a real understanding of and affinity for the plants our products are going to be made from. It is about taking responsibility for the development of both product and scent from scratch. It is about acquiring the knowledge and confidence to reject as well as accept.
As a grower, understanding the effects of season, climate and terroir produces a deep understanding of the plants and what they need to thrive, this is so important because when developing products, the temptation is to keep adding more and more ingredients; isolated extracts, boosters, plumpers, peels and peptides – in fact to move away from the therapeutics of the whole plants themselves. This approach although seductive, demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding and trust in the regulatory and healing power of plants whether it be the whole plant, a maceration of the flower, the essential oil, the oil from the seed or a tincture of the root. Knowing the attributes of the plants you use offers a wonderful opportunity to make something really special, something that nourishes both skin and spirit, something that draws on the full power of nature, something that harnesses the alchemy of seed, soil, sun and water.
For us, slow beauty begins in the potting shed, we take the time to joyfully sow the seeds, put them in the poly-tunnel, watch them germinate, pot them on, gradually introduce them to the cooler air outside, plant them out and then weed and feed them with organic comfrey tea. We marvel at their growth, delight in their buds, chatter endlessly about their flowers and share in their harvest. It is slow, mindful care and shared delight. It is about connection to the land, the people and the products, it is a beautifully seamless continuum from season to season, year to year.
When we talk about #slowbeauty, #natural, #cleanbeauty as a producer, we are talking about fewer good ingredients being worth more, about time being devoted to every part of the process from the seed to the serum, about investing in knowing and applying that knowledge wisely but most of all we are talking about the need to understand that real #slowbeauty comes from patiently waiting for the plants to offer us their treasure and understanding what an incredible gift that is.