A Call from the East: Behind the Scenes with Siam SEAS
What I love most about Beauty Heroes is discovering new beauty with a purpose, and then spreading their message to our community. The longer I do this work, the more impressed I am when I encounter an emerging indie brand with a distinct point of difference and a clear voice. This is a very crowded space, and standing out takes vision, courage and grit. Supadra, founder of Siam SEAS, possesses these traits in spades.
Supadra’s call to create Siam SEAS was answered readily and unconditionally. The seed was planted early in her childhood, but the call wasn’t clear until later in life, when Supadra faced her own insecurities with her chronic skin conditions. Her journey of self acceptance led her to practice the art of self-care, and through these rituals, she not only reclaimed her self confidence but discovered her love for natural product formulation. Now, every time I experience Siam SEAS, it is clear that each product is a remembrance of the traditions, scents, colors and aromas of the East, and a labor of self-love.
In the many conversations I’ve had with Supadra, one thing has become clear; she has a vision for Siam SEAS and her success is measured by her ability to help create moments of deep self-reflection, self-patience, self-acceptance and connection to nature for her customers. I recently met Supadra in her home state of Florida. I learned more about her native Thailand and how she brings to life, in modern and sophisticated blends, a unique collection of healing herbs, flowers, oils and minerals that are produced by-hand in an act of self-awareness, healing and generosity. Meet Supadra.
What inspired you to create your Siam SEAS?
Truth be told, I was inspired to start Siam SEAS as a part of my own personal journey to heal my skin. I was amazed at the impact that skin rituals had on my perspective and the way I ultimately feel about myself.
I was also inspired by the respect I have for nature and my fascination with wisdom of my ancestors. We live in a really fast-moving world, but I remember growing up in Thailand, and feel very fortunate to have witnessed a lifestyle that was so connected to nature. I feel that today we have lost that connection. We don’t know how to slow down and pay attention in the moment anymore. I hope to inspire people to take time to embrace who they are and be healthy in mind and body through the use of a unique and passionately made product that preserves and presents the healing power of nature.
How did you learn the art of formulating?
In Southeast Asia, plants are involved in everything we do; food, medicine, beauty and even mechanical stuff like fishing nets or building a summer hut. Traditionally, we rely on plants to guide our way through life. I was exposed to the power of plants throughout my childhood by my grandmother who was an herbalist.
With that understanding and background, I then sharpened my skills by working with a team of Thai herbalists to understand and learn the properties of Southeast Asian botanicals. I also research the latest plant ingredients synergies, so I can make the most effective skincare products based on these ingredients and principles.
When it’s time to develop a new product, what is your process?
First, I write down the purpose of the product I want to create and what I want it to achieve.
A part of this process involves me reconnecting with myself emotionally while constantly writing down ideas and how I connect to this purpose. These notes have a profound impact on me in the creative process and go beyond the formula to impact the scent, feel, name and design of the product.
Then, I start noting ingredients that provide the benefits on skin that I want to achieve. Last, I look at where there are synergies that will bring out the best in each ingredient. I do a lot of research for modern science and synergies that will build on ancient wisdom.
After formulating comes testing. This is the longest process and can take up to a year or longer. I work on perfecting texture, performance and safety, and consider how the product will perform for different skin types, and how the aroma impacts your mind. All of this is carefully considered.
What’s been your biggest discovery in terms of the creative process?
The quieter my mind is, the better I can channel my super creative power. Creativity flows like water, but it can’t be forced. I am just a channel.
Can you share some of the details on how you source your ingredients sustainably?
Sustainability, for me, is rooted in the people and relationships I have with my suppliers. Working closely with the farmers, I’ve come to understand their limitations in terms of labor, lands and season of harvest. I proudly pay our suppliers fairly which to me, ensures sustainability, especially in third world countries where technology and knowledge of sustainable practices is not wide spread. When necessary, I also work with a knowledgeable liaison who works closely with the farmers and distillers, and their job is to maintain the integrity and standards I hold for Siam SEAS. Sustainability must be embraced and practiced by all people involved in the process.
What’s your workspace like and a little bit about your team?
My workspace is small, compact and full of passion. It’s lined with shelves and shelves of ingredients (existing and new), with all extracts and oils making it smell heavenly. Every time I walk into the space I feel an immediate pull and connection to what I do. I have a very small, diverse team. Each day we take time to connect with and support each other on a personal level, beyond work. It is important to me that we share our values and integrity in life and in what Siam SEAS stands for.
What’s next for Siam SEAS?
This year is going to be exciting because I am working on two daytime protective skincare products that are especially for problematic, acne prone skin. This will complete our line’s daytime ritual. And they are amazing! I am close to finalizing some details and I will be able to share them with the Beauty Heroes community soon.
Do you have a creative muse?
Being present is always the best channel for me. It is very hard to do in this in our hectic society and lifestyle, so when I remind myself to re-center and refocus on being here and now, I feel like I unblock the flow within and allow myself to take notice of what is happening around me. I believe in taking time to appreciate our surroundings, see and feel inspiration. That being said, my inspiration can come from people, activities, conversations, nature, books or even just a sparkle of light and how it reflects on a glass I was holding in the back yard.
Do you have a favorite ingredient?
This is almost like asking me to pick my favorite child. I have many favorites. Each plant offers different benefits. For an inflammation fighter I love Plai and Clinnacanthus Nutans. For Skin protection and antioxidant, I love Thanaka and Terminalia Chebula and Kacip Fatimah. For Skin brightening Lakoocha, Tamarind and Manjistha are my favorite ingredients. I could go on and on. I just realized now though that I haven’t picked one ingredient out…
Where might we run into you on a Sunday morning?
My weeks are always so hectic, so Saturdays are usually errand running and a fun outing with the kids. Sundays are reserved as a home day and you would find me at my house cooking a late breakfast for my family, my husband reading the papers and me negotiating with my kids of how many bites they need to take before we can play claw (tickling monster) followed by bike rides and playing outside.
How do you relax?
My favorite way to relax is with a bath and a candle and Hilary Stagg (a new age musician) playing in the background. I love cuddling up in front of a movie with my husband, connection with him always has a very calming effect on me. And, cooking while listening and dancing to my favorite music
How does Siam SEAS inspire healing self-care to users?
I think true self-care is being able to assess your needs both physically and emotionally and providing what you need to be in the healthiest state you can be. I believe this goes beyond using skincare. We live in a world of constant judgment and ideas of who we should be and how we should look, and we forget to just be ourselves. Instead, we can spend time and energy chasing ideas of perfection and we lose who we are.
I believe in using a skincare routine as a healing ritual to create a safe space and time to be accepting of yourself, your beauty and your flaws, to acknowledge the stress of your day and to let it go. I believe in this daily practice of having a ritual to accept, acknowledge and let go before stepping into your daily safe place. Using Siam SEAS to create this healing portal has helped me tremendously in preparing me to look at the world before me, make the best out of it and relieve the stress of my day. And I hope Siam SEAS will create that safe healing space for you.