What is the Luxury of Beauty
When Marin Living Magazine asked us to define our approach to the Luxury of Beauty — what distinguishes the beauty of our art, jewelry and home decor products and provides beauty for oneself or for their home — we were excited to share our perspective on what we call atmosphere.
Why is it important to feel beautiful or surround yourself with beauty?
Our approach to beauty starts with “atmosphere.” In our framework, atmosphere is all about sinking in. Sinking in to the moments in between. It’s about giving ourselves time to be idle and awoke to what’s around us. It’s that delicious ability to both recognize the space of just being — and to enjoy being in it. Both a state of mind and a physical safe place to retreat, atmosphere allows us to nurture, create, love and to belong.
Atmosphere can also take the ordinary and transform it. The handcrafted Japanese knives we carry allow us to appreciate the act of slicing a vegetable in a way that stimulates our senses by slowing down and noticing textures, colors, smells.
Macadamia nuts that have been pressed for their oils and used in the clean beauty line in our shop take on new meaning as a healing agent — not to mention, inhaling the gorgeous scent transports us to Hawaii.
The way Poet and/the Bench co-founder and goldsmith Jeffrey Levin uses his hands to carve, shape, and finish his jewelry designs adds a tactile, incredibly touchable aspect that optimizes the beauty of his medium. Atmosphere moves each of us in our way, via the lens through which we see the world. We aim to bring inner and outer beauty to that lens.
What are you doing in business that nobody else is?
Our role at Poet and/the Bench is to ensure the atmosphere you create starts with “healthy” ingredients — selecting designers and artists founded in generous values and narratives that enhance our daily lives. As we approach six years in Mill Valley, our founding mission remains integral to our approach at Poet and/the Bench: to create a platform to present emerging and independent designers and artists in a way that connects us to their story.
Giving visibility and voice in an intimate shopping experience helps develop an examined way of consuming and creating appreciation for craft and inspiration. Further, we hand-select our artists, establishing direct relationships with the creatives who make the work, and with an intention to bring you an edit of original one-of-a-kind, small batch, and limited edition items, many of which are exclusive to us. 65% of our artists are local; 80% are women; and more than 25% are from underrepresented communities — BIPOC, AAPI and LGBTQ.
How are you disrupting your industry and thinking outside the box?
Specifically in our clean beauty skin care offering, we’re investigators of ingredients and only carry the good stuff – because we know that what we put on our bodies is as important as what we put in it. Nontoxic, better for you, beautiful, optimistic and efficacious products that you can feel good about. For yourself and for the planet.
We source small batch perfumes that tell a story through scent memories and emotions. These original fragrances are crafted from quality ingredients, curious stories and with best practices following strict standards and guidelines.
Our self care collection honors the cultivation of well-being and comfort. We look for makers of high quality, crafted ingredients, including organic and wild-crafted essential oils, vegetable-based materials as well as objects that enhance a daily focus on you. To make time everyday for a moment or languid experience of meaning and beauty, through scent, the glow of a natural candle or the nourishment of a tender elixir.
We are also committed to stocking up on ethically sourced, sustainably harvested and relationship-focused maker ingredients for your pantry, including spices, spice blends, cacao chocolates, raw honey electuaries, ultra-premium extra virgin olive oils and vinegars, and small-batch tea and coffee.
Our approach is a kind of healthy hedonism because the ingredients are clean, natural and decadent. A desire to increase pleasure (and to decrease pain). But importantly, not an egoistic pursuit of short-term gratification by indulging in sensory pleasures without regard for the consequences.
How has the pandemic changed people’s attitudes towards personal beauty or beauty in the spaces they occupy?
The uncertainty of the pandemic has dialed up our desire for comfort and safety. 2020 and much of this year was all about nurturing ourselves — at home. We’ve been helping clients create a more deliberate “sense of place” that comes from identity — personal, cultural and place identity we prescribe to of a real or imagined state of harmony and centeredness.
Our art, home decor and self-care collections have had resonance even more so during these challenging times. We style and bring the texture of our lives into our homes through the environments we create. You’ve likely heard of the Danish concept Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga); it can be traced back to the 1800s and is derived from a Norwegian word that translates to well-being. Hygge is a wonderful way of appreciating the simple things in life, especially what brings a feeling of cozy contentment. It may be lighting a candle and getting cozy under a luxurious blanket, sipping a warm cup of coffee while you watch nature or the world go by. Or playing music that takes you to that place.
We actually found music to be much like another companion in our house during the COVID shelter in place and more routinely following. The more we connected to the beats, we wanted to collaborate with DJs to create bespoke mixtapes as the honey to get us through these challenging times. We’ve launched a few already with DJ Pelau and DJ Macoe, available on our website, with themes not surprisingly which included “Home” and “Emerge.” As we continue to move through this year into another new normal, we will keep enhancing our offering to present a confluence of fresh vibes to give 2021 moments of swimming in the sunshine of life.
What makes you a leader in beautifying people, places or things?
Design isn’t just what we do, it’s who we are. Jeffrey Levin has been a jewelry designer for four decades and Bonnie Powers has run creative agencies focused on lifestyle consumer goods for thirty years. We believe good design expresses both beauty and emotion, inspires people, and creates a sense of place. We value the human-ness behind good design — the makers, their talent and the personal stories that move them. We advocate for community as we know the collective power of good, curious people. And we do what we love to bring you things that you’ll love, for yourself and others.
Looking forward to sharing more pleasure, inspiration and beauty with you!
~ Bonnie & Jeffrey