Back in 2013 I was invited to the launch of a new Australian home and body care brand, Bondi Wash. It was there that I met founder Belinda Everingham, and we instantly bonded over the twisted yet intoxicating novel Perfume by Patrick Suskind (if you haven’t read it, do yourself a favour and get hold of it now!). After having wonderfully captivating conversations about all things delightfully smelly I was sent home with my little gift bag in hand. Since that day I have been hooked – I recommend Bondi Wash on the regular and cannot get enough of it in my own home. I particularly recommend the Pepper and Lavender Bench Spray, the Peppermint and Rosemary Hand Wash, and the Buddha Wood and Blackcurrant essential oil.
Belinda recently went through the daunting experience of opening a retail space in Bondi, and was kind enough to sit and chat with me about it…
How’s it been since the open the store?
I’ve loved it actually. It was frightening to start with; I didn’t know what I was doing – at all. But I had some lovely people help: Casey from Uashmama, Stephen, Louise and Richard from Dinosaur Designs…
And you worked with some great designers on the shop fitout, right?
Yes, great designers, Mr & Mrs White. So I found them on Instagram, which was incredibly fortuitous. I loved their simple beautiful style, which is just perfect for our brand. That was an amazing collaboration that just really worked. Sasha white and I were on the same page and it was all very smooth and very quick actually. I think it took about 6 weeks to pull it all together! I love having a store now, as frightening as it was. It’s lovely to be able to get direct feedback from customers – which products and scents they like, and what they’d like us to introduce. We get a lot of international customers here too, which is great.
You still have your online space as well as the store, is there a one you prefer?
I think they’re complimentary. Online sales have gone up since we opened the store; I’m not sure if that’s coincidental or not. But the online customer is quite different. They tend to buy for themselves and they buy a lot, whereas in store it tends to be smaller parcels and gifts. But having a retail space just made so much sense because our products are so fragrance-based. You can’t experience all the different scents online.
How do you decide which scents to use?
Initially it started with Australian botanicals that I had discovered and thought about other complimentary botanicals that went with them. I found the Sydney Peppermint and just tried to think of what would go well with it, and test matched it with Rosemary, lavender, and orange, cedar wood… But other times it’s people asking for a particular scent. I have a friend who loves vanilla, and I thought aniseed myrtle would pair really well with that so I developed that particular product line. So that was a request.
Yeah that’s a great combination. Vanilla is often taken down that sweet route, and aniseed still has slight connotations of sweetness because you think of licorice, but it’s not actually a sweet smell.
No, it has an edge!
Other scents now I develop for a specific purpose, like the baby range and the insect repellent range that is coming out. So I started with a whole lot of Australian natives that repel insects, and they’re all lemon based. And then I balanced it as a scent by introducing things like blue cypress, because it was a little bit too lemony after layering all the lemongrass and other oils. So that was developed with functionality in mind.
There’s another new range that I’ve also developed for functionality, which is the Buddhawood and blackcurrant range for the skin. It has really gentle facial products – all the oils have been tested and are very mild and non-aggravating. It’s actually one of our most complicated scents as well, and has about 16 different essential oils.
Did you have any experience in developing scents and perfumes before starting Bondi Wash?
Zero. None. But as I’ve gone on, I’ve developed more and more skills, which has led to the latest range of Buddha wood and blackcurrant being more complex. I’ve always loved fragrance, there’s something very powerful about scent. I will always stop and smell things, particularly like gardenia and jasmine, it is quite intoxicating – but just for that second that you breathe it in. Fragrance is definitely a love… I’ve learnt a lot.
Is there a particular scent or plant that you haven’t used yet that you dream about using?
I do! It’s funny you ask the question, because today I just started revisiting another brand I have in development, which is fragrance. So part of the original vision, inspired by Perfume, was to create a range of products with beautiful fragrance like the French have done, but with Australian Botanicals. But then I discovered that the botanicals are antibacterial, and there is a functional side, so the Bondi Wash range made a lot of sense. But then, there are some that aren’t antibacterial and just have an interesting or beautiful fragrance. So ignoring their properties, just focusing on the pure scent, I now have a little range in development that is all about fragrance.
That’s exciting! I want to smell them!
I know! Some of them are quite unusual too. Getting a balanced fragrance is not very easy.
Are you working with any perfumers?
There’s a young perfumer who I’ve met, and I will probably contact him at some stage but so far I’ve been developing on my own. But he has the same passion, so I might work with him just to really bring the fragrances to life.
And finally, it’s very cool that you now have a store in the brands namesake suburb; can you tell me your three favourite places or things to do in or around Bondi?
I’m not from here, but Bondi feels very much like home now. I do love the beach, and it’s such a lovely community. The whole area is so laid back but very creative, and there are a lot of very impressive people doing really interesting things. But three things…
- To eat, I really love Bills – and have for a long time because his food is so fresh and light and flavoursome. He incorporates so many different cultures in his cuisine.
- To swim, I like the non-crowded little pockets - like Mackenzies when it has a beach.
- And I go to Panama House everyday for coffee because it’s on my way to work, and because it’s always great coffee.
Bondi Wash, Bondi Store
76 Gould Street
Ph 61 2 9365 5609