We began this project years ago, pretty much as soon as we met—in Barbados, the Crop Over festival weekend, the celebration of the sugar cane harvest.
We were just passing through, but discovered we already had several very good friends in common.
For us, the world works best like this: finding our way through solid connections waiting to be uncovered.
Serendipity is our governing force. It always has been.
Uncovering the pathways . . .
So, here we are. Happy to be in London, on the front porch of Europe. The nearby dockyards of East London and Greenwich's National Maritime Museum are a constant reminder of the historic connection between this place and the Caribbean.
We dream of long sunny days, looking behind for inspiration and guidance, so that we can look forward to being home once again in the Caribbean. Someday. Family and friends, the lovely hot weather and the rolling surf beckon, but there's also the business of being in the place that you love and giving something back, of making our work work there.
. . . and detangling the knots
Nearly ten years ago, I left a life and career I loved in Miami and moved to the UK. Taking the opportunity of a new start to heart, I learned the craft of soap making and studied the history of apothecary and perfumery; soon, our tiny flat was crammed with pails of butters, glass beakers, oils, and books, books, books. Don was only too happy to make wooden moulds and streamline some of my techniques. (That's what he calls it.)
I found deep pleasure in scents. This is where it all starts for me—
Scents have the ability to move us in ways that science doesn't even understand. They take us back to moments in our lives. They are embedded perpetually in our memory. They contain the story of who we are.
In our story, heritage matters much. When our two daughters were born, it all came together and became ever more clear. We needed a way forward that created a space for them.
Living far away from our Caribbean home, we remake it here: the scents and textures, the memories and ways. Practically speaking, we wanted them to feel like we did growing up in the Caribbean, surrounded by nature and family stories, welcome in a multi-ethnic society where no one stands out for being different. Certainly not for the kind of hair they happen to have. In their case, it's their vivaciously brilliant, seemingly boundless, bouncy, mind-of-their-own curls which tell the story of who they are. We just had to figure out how to make this work.
Over the years, we spent a lot of time trying to find the best way to care for our girls' curls. We used all the standard products—store-bought ones, salon-only ones, and very fancy ones. Our cupboard is littered with half-empty bottles. Sound familiar? Bottle to bottle, I was unhappy with the synthetic or chemical ingredients and the strong perfume smell, even though some products were meant just for children. I also was unhappy spending money on products that were full of questionable ingredients.
So I started a little looking, about the same time Don was studying for a diploma in Dermatology. Serendipity? I think so.
Using the coconut butter I already had for soapmaking, I read about a South American butter, from the murumuru palm, that works beautifully in curly hair. It's similar to shea butter, but not as greasy. Pretty soon, we had the beginnings of the Muru Muru Smoothie and a natural hair and skin nutrition concept.
Muru Muru Smoothie in hand, I could easily wash and detangle the girls' hair and moisturise Don's locks quite nicely. Over time, I noticed that the condition of the childrens' hair improved, and their scalps were healthier than before. The biggest bonus? They smelled really lovely, like a "sunny day," as Mimi used to say. I knew her "sunny day" was the sweet orange and rose geranium essential oils blending with the natural smell of the coconut.
The wonderful moment when you can enjoy watching your children do this without worrying about sorting out their hair! Here they are, at about 2 and 4 years old.
We're still working on a full range of hair and skin care products for our family. I think about the kinds of products we'd like to have, research, and experiment with formulations in our home. Don comes in handy, comparing my natural approaches to skin and hair conditions with medical ones. (He's actually really busy getting some of our larger projects in Barbados off to a start--more on that in the blog soon.)
It's our hope that these products are as useful in your family as they are in ours. You can read more about them on our blog and on the Soon Come: Notes from the Workshop page. We're looking forward to sharing them with you soon.