Interview by Abby Mason: Kim Collier, Founder of JAMU & Organic Spa Rituals & shared from "Healing Lifestyles & Spas":
When did JAMU launch? How has the beauty industry changed since that time?
JAMU initially launched in Bali, Indonesia in 1993 and then we expanded into the USA in 1998, for North American market. The initial company continues in Bali, locally owned as well, and dedicated to the ASEAN & European market.
Wow, quantum changes! We are now seeing more offerings of “cleaner, healthier, organic” products which seem to be driven by consumers making conscious, eco-savvy and thoughtful buying decisions. Also, there is more interest in cross-cultural spa experiences & Eastern treatments. Global, holistic, wellness within the beauty industry has arrived...
I love the name JAMU and the meaning “herbal remedies used internally and externally for health and beauty”. How did the name of your brand come about?
Indonesia, rich with culture and tradition, and delicious foods and beverages, both Java & Bali is where my husband, Cary, and I first tried “jamu” tonic drinks. Living in Indonesia, experiencing more of the traditions and culture, we better understood and highly respected "jamu" is the word that most clearly represents one of the key modalities of Indonesia, her people & their amazing herbal healing culture.
Did you know right away that this was the name for your company?
Initially, the company founded in Bali was called ESENS, to convey in English, that the products used essences of herbs and aromatherapy. Then, when re-launched in the USA, we re-branded to celebrate the traditional healing of Indonesia which is conveyed accurately and uniquely with the name “JAMU.” As of today, the initial company in Bali, ESENS, has now evolved into “JAMU Spa School” and it is an honor to be collaborating to continue supporting & educating traditions of "jamu".
Your company was created as a result of “ten years of hands-on spa consultation and experience in Southeast Asia”. Can you tell me more about when, during this time, you decided to develop natural, organic and green products (what was your inspiration and motivation)?
Bali & Indonesia is an inspiration, all unto to itself! Grateful for the experience to support the locals to form a company which celebrates their traditions.
My husband, Cary, and I were blessed to be part of the opening team for Four Seasons Resorts Ubud & Sayan, in Bali Indonesia. While living/working throughout Asia (1990-1998) we spent A LOT of wonderful time opening spas/resorts where the spa guests would request to bring home their Balinese spa experience. Only problem, all of the indigenous products had been made fresh, sourced locally, and not packaged for retail…yet. So we got “sebuk” ( Balinese word for “busy”) and began to research recipes with the local healers"Balian", and find authentic ways to package and retail natural body care in unique bottles, cork stoppers, and hand-wrapped bottles; all as beautiful as Balinese offerings.
To the Balinese “the more beautiful and fragrant an offering, the higher a prayer carries to its intention."
Your company mission is to “preserve indigenous customs and carry on the inspiration of Asia”. Can you elaborate a bit more on this and what it means to you?
To further #2, above, while learning “Bahasa Indonesia” (Indonesian language), the already kind and gracious Indonesians with whom we were working were very welcoming with introductions and visits to their villages and beautiful families. With permission and grace of the elders, we began to study ” jamu” traditions, visited healers, and realized many of these indigenous customs, remedies and recipes were not yet documented in English language. Therefore, the mission and inspiration of Jamu ‘to preserve’ was born…
Your products are “natural nourishing recipes, animal and cruelty free, organic and biodegradable”. What do you do with your packaging so that it is eco friendly?
Here is some insight into each of the aspects of eco-consciousness of JAMU: We follow natural nourishing recipes using edible botanicals, spices and herbs indigenous to South East Asia; we are animal and cruelty free; vegan; no animal products or by-products used in formulations; use only organic ingredients which are certified by USDA, QAI, Pro Cert Systems or Oregon Tilth; biodegradable; use edible ingredients, , no chemicals and gentle on the skin/body & environment/planet.
How do you embrace sustainability in your company?
In direct relationship to the question above, we embrace sustainability by transitioning to glass for massage oils & blessing baths, cornstarch bags & kraft/brown paper for scrubs, and the plastics used for travel sizes are HDPE #2 plastics, which are recyclable. Furthermore, JAMU has never used boxes for individual products, only organza bags and Balinese fabric boxes. When JAMU ships, we “re-purpose boxes and packing materials” and remind our customers that “reused boxes & packing materials make beautiful trees!”
What makes your brand unique in the arena of green beauty and where do you think it is headed?
JAMU is unique as the first to launch Balinese/Javanese/Thai rituals of body care and herbal beauty in USA, and be organic before it was cool! We are still one, of just a few, unique brands that celebrates cultures of herbal healing, and happy to be headed in the green beauty category with "indie" bodycare companies who are making a loud shout out to green beauty. The industry is in the hands of the conscious "green beauty" consumers seeking "organic, green, sustainable, lifestyle products". So head on over to the growing community of "green beauty" happening everywhere near you!
Are there any special/funny stories that you would like to share behind your brand?
Snakes in my shoes, when we lived in Bali, Indonesia! We were enjoying a quiet morning in our Bali island home, when I walked into my closet where, spotted a snake in the shoe I was planning to wear. EEEEEK! I ran out of the house screaming “ULAR, ULAR” (snake in Indonesian), and my husband, and our house staff ran after me, joining in the scream. The funny part, we laugh now, is two fold: we left our first born daughter, Cierra, in the house, playing on the floor. We then all ran back inside to get her, still screaming about the snake, and by that time Cierra was crying and scared. We proceeded to open the bedroom window and close that door for the day. All is/was well, and our Balinese staff, who were our extended family ( Nyoman & Nengah), proceeded to explain that a snake often symbolizes fertility and asked if we were pregnant again? Well…we did conceive again that year… daughter #2, whom we named “Asia” after our experiences in Asia, and a much better name than "ULAR".
What is your favorite healthy ingredient, and why do you love it? What products feature it?
TURMERIC, hands down, the most delicious anti-oxidant for body and skin. Our first herbal scrub product was “LULUR” which hails from the Central Javanese 17th century royal palace ritual of the “Javanese Lulur”. This scrub/bath/massage with aphrodisiac jasmine and frangipani blossoms is given to the bride to be for 40 days, everyday, before her honeymoon evening. Turmeric sweetens and lightens the skin, when used externally, and is the key ingredient in “jamu” tonic beverages. It makes the skin delicious!
Your company supports UNICEF. What is the reason behind choosing this amazing organization? Are there other charities you are also passionate about?
UNICEF has been part of my personal charitable giving since “trick or treating” for UNICEF as a child. It has stayed with me, and seemed a natural fit for JAMU to contribute to help children of the world, And, since the earthquake in Nepal in 2015 JAMU has committed to donating 10% of all sales to UNICEF. Additionally, we now purchase meditation chimes direct from Nepal, through a company called Eastern Vibration. They are on the ground helping Nepal, and also active in bringing ‘vibrational healing’ to spas, and the world.
Are JAMU products featured in spas? If so, which ones and what are some of your favorite treatments featuring JAMU products?
The company started solely with the support from Four Seasons Spas/Asia Division. We and eternally grateful for their vision to preserve cultural traditions at each of their stunning locations with a vast variety of indigenous products and services on offer. In the USA, we work with select number of spas that are interested to authentic Balinese Massage & Organic Spa Rituals, whilst JAMU offers full support and continuing education. Our top resort spa clients include Immersion Spa & Water Club Spa in Atlantic City NJ, Cloister Spa of Sea Island GA & Noble House/Spa Terre USA. We also work with holistic practitioners, day spas, and retail boutiques, to enhance their offerings of wellness and to bring a unique lifestyle experience to their clients.
Your products look amazing online! Where can I find JAMU products displayed so I can touch and smell the entire line?
Thank you Abby! I am waiting for the day that the internet will be “touch and smell”, so people may enjoy the entire line, on-line! Each property chooses the tradition that best suits their clientele, as well as the season, so no one resort has the entire line, year-round… other than our website: www.jamuspa.com
Where is your USA company based? Can you tell me a little bit more about JAMU headquarters, your team and your company culture?
Since 2000, JAMU became a Montana Corporation, located in Whitefish MT. We have had a variety of locations, and have now streamlined for production to be with a local, certified organic manufacturer. Our sales/marketing/education headquarters are based from my home office, with a staff of 2 and me … and no snakes here!
How would you describe your ideal customer?
World travelers, adventurous spirits, and seekers of organic products & delectable aromas for body and mind. We enjoy such a loyal customer base, and growing, each with a different story on why they enjoy JAMU. But most say that JAMU brings them a bit of tropical bliss each time that they use it to nourish their skin and soul. Many of our customers have been with us since our 2000 launch in USA, and we also have magazines, writers and bloggers to thank for sharing the JAMU Joy too, so thank you!
Do you have any new products or launches that we can expect to see in the near future?
We recently launched #raiseyourvibe promotion by integrating meditation chimes “tingsha” into the spa ritual experience; as mentioned, to support Nepal and UNICEF. We’re also working on a new additions to the line, launching soon, so stay tuned!
I would love to know who inspires you and why….?
Thats a soul stirring question, love it! I am inspired that each day is a new and beautiful day, not always easy and light, but full of choices that can make a difference in our lives, and the lives of others too. I would say kindness really matters, as does striving to be a loving person, never taking any one, or any day, for granted.
I love your mantra “Peace in your heart, and love in the world” Do you have any others that you love?
That beautiful mantra is Balinese, and I love it too! “Om Suasti Astu ~ Peace In Your Heart & In The World”. I listen to a lot of music, when working and with my teenage daughters, and find a lot of inspiration in many of the lyrics. With the “sound bites of peoples’ lives”, along with a good beat, there’s nothing like inspiration put to music and a good dance beat!
What is your favorite product in your line?
Wow, so SO many extraordinary product lines out there to be enjoyed. Two that I use, every day, are Shankara and Lotus Wei, both so amazing! Shankara for its Ayurvedic healing principles, and Lotus Wei for its intoxicating flower essences, infused into mists, serums and even lip balms. Oh, and a local line of lip balms from HurrahBalm is pretty incredible too! With our spa consulting companies ( Collier Spas & Blu Spa) we have the opportunity and honor to recommend product lines for spas/wellness, and continue to discover many excellent lines! Have you heard of @beautyheros? They have some excellent recommendations for natural, green beauty too!
What is your favorite way to relax?
Catching Zzzzz ( sleep) is a priority, and my favorite way to relax, decompress and heal, and even enjoy delicious naps from time to time...Upon waking, my ritual is: rise early, breath gratitude in/out, both feet on the earth ( bedside or walk outside ), drink water, then go, go, go, until bedtime! My family calls me the “EverReady Bunny!”
What are your goals for your company in the future?
Expanded the brand from JAMU & Asian Spa Rituals to JAMU & Organic Spa Rituals, with focus on embracing more brands and their green benefits. As an educator, offering continuing education programs at spas and massage schools, it is exciting to be part of the future of wellness, through products and education. So I see my efforts and energies dedicated to collaboration whereby together we can do more, support each other, and empower change and grow! Welcome more collaborations, always.
How do you find balance while juggling life’s needs and work’s responsibilities?
“Move it or lose it” that applies to body, and mind! At some point, each day, I walk outside, hike in the quiet woods, get to the gym, play in my garden, or get into the kitchen (cue the dance music) and prepare a healthy meal for my family and friends. We sit together, slow down and enjoy each other in this moment.
What is your favorite edible ingredient to both eat and use on your skin?
Hale Kale, favorite green to eat, especially sautéed in organic coconut oil! Hale Coconut Oil too, and glad that this nutrient rich, tropical oil has made its way into peoples’ kitchens and vanity areas. The absolute BEST moisturizer inside and out!
What are two to three things you feel are important to share with your customers?
Another great question, and have enjoyed this interview very much, thank you Abby.
Three things important to share with JAMU customers:
- Gratitude to you for discovering JAMU ~ EnJoy
- Gratitude to you for choosing organic for your lifestyle, and the planet
- If you cannot make it to Bali, let JAMU and our clients/friends bring Bali and Global Wellness to YOU!
“Om Suasti Astu” ~ Peace In Your Heart & In The World “