Bee Simonds stole our hearts well before Boketto was even a thing, swooning us over with each and every single one of her H products. After finding that PROPOLIS was the only mask that my skin responded to so favorably and Lip Glacé was the closest to butter that my lips had ever felt, I essentially demanded that the full H IS FOR LOVE line be carried at Boketto as soon as we opened doors.
Beyond the pure luxury and effectiveness of Bee’s products, we have always admired her thoughtfulness and transparency as a small business owner. She is a wellspring of knowledge and inspiration, keeping us on our toes and always giving us a good laugh or two along the way. She stands firmly in what she believes in and always puts her customers and her community at the very heart of all that she does. If you fancy the idea of feeling like you’re swimming in a sea of gold every time you use a product on your skin, then we invite you to indulge in the gift that is H IS FOR LOVE — and experience that nature, truly, is enough.
It is such an honor to share Bee’s story with you, where she touches on the philosophy behind H, ways in which she nurtures creativity in her personal life as well as the business side of things, the inspiration behind the names she chooses for each of her products, and how she maintains authenticity and integrity in a quickly evolving industry.
What is the inspiration and philosophy behind H Is For Love?
When I first started learning about herbs and oils, it was with a connection to the internal system. I spent years learning about traditional foods and along with the discovery that our current food system is broken, I was introduced to the power of plants as medicine. To say I was captivated, enthralled, obsessed is almost an understatement. I had discovered my purpose and my passion. Fast forward a few years, after purging and replacing cleaning products, furnishings in the home, and makeup, I looked at what I thought was my natural skincare. It was then I learned the term ‘greenwash’ and threw everything away in one day. When I began researching truly natural and organic brands I found that there were elements from a few that I loved, but not one brand offered both plant powered purity and efficacy along with luxury. I wanted both. I wanted old world plant infusions using the highest quality ingredients available along with a scent profile and texture fit for a queen. After many years mastering traditional, sometimes very complicated recipes in the kitchen, I felt confident that I could source and formulate what I wanted more effectively than anything I could find on the market. H became an actual business organically. People saw my skin, they begged for product, they kept coming back. Within a year I launched the line and the response has been overwhelming ever since!
In what ways do you nurture creativity and source inspiration (for yourself as well as your business)?
Owning a business can be a lot of paperwork and repetitive tasks. I have a great team and they take care of some of that for me so I can focus more on the creative side of things. H in itself inspires me! From packing orders and writing love notes to our customers, to making products in the studio, I’m surrounded by love and beauty. Every time I handle each precious ingredient, I’m inspired. From the beginning, we’ve made small batches in order to keep things fresh. Because of this, I’ve made these products hundreds and hundreds of times, and yet still, every time I get the ingredients out and get into the zone of making, I’m just enraptured. The magic of what I get to do is my ultimate inspiration.
Stemming from this, would you mind describing what inspires the names of your products? (It comes up in conversation a lot around here).
Prior to launching H IS FOR LOVE, a lot of my life was spent traveling the world. I’ve been to many far off places and had truly life changing experiences, and have brought those experiences into the formulas and names of the products.
I spent a lot of time in Europe as a child, mostly France, so LIN and Glacé are French names. Time spent in Israel inspired the name RAPHA, which means ‘healer’ in Hebrew (and RAPHA really does heal).
The scent profile of PROPOLIS was very much inspired by my time in Jordan, deep in the underground spice markets. But the name PROPOLIS coincides with the function of the mask. PROPOLIS in a hive is used to fill in the empty spaces and create security for the bees. Camu Camu in the mask is one of nature’s highest sources of vitamin C, which is the building block of collagen production. If you view the dermis with all of its layers and cells through a microscope, it can be likened to honeycomb! POLLEN, NECTAR, they’re playful names also used in beekeeping and I felt they were fitting for those products with their floral bases (and as you know my name is Bee, so bees are kind of a thing for me).
BARA means ‘rose’ in Japanese, a culture I’ve loved and admired for my whole life. Rose is one of the dominant scents in that balm. But the name also means “to create from nothing” in Hebrew. This meaning is very specific: it doesn’t just mean ‘to create’ it means specifically to create ‘from nothing.’ When I made BARA, I tried 100 different ways to achieve the perfect texture and effect, but nothing I tried gave me the result I was looking for. So I threw out all of my previous formulations and began from scratch, forcing myself to forget what I knew about balms. When I did that BARA became exactly what I’d dreamed of, and that name fit it perfectly.
KINU is also Japanese and means silk. When you use LIN to prep skin, and KINU to finish, your skin absolutely feels like silk. Lin is french for linen, which is a slubby rough texture that becomes soft after many uses-much like the effect the product has on our skin.
Lip Conditioner is pretty straight-forward.
How do you maintain your authenticity and integrity in an industry that is quickly expanding and evolving?
I think the answer to that lies in your question. Authenticity is my angle. I am 100% available, real, and authentic with my brand and with who I am. There are giants in the skincare industry. I don’t worry about them because anyone who is looking for something real doesn’t want that. There are even giants in the green beauty sphere, but I’m not worried about them either because they are appealing to a different kind of customer than H IS FOR LOVE seems to attract. People who really get H are looking for someone they can trust, who cares about them, who has integrity in spades, and who isn’t hyper-focused on the bottom line. My mission from the beginning and to the end will be to hold a higher standard in skincare. To trust nature intrinsically, to look to the past for wisdom, and to hold true to those things come what may. I believe that every success H has found has come from our focus on why H was created to begin with. I’m a rebel through and through. I saw a beauty industry rife with misinformation and full of ingredients that make people sick. H IS FOR LOVE is my response to that industry.
Do you have any specific rituals or practices when concocting products?
Let’s just say that my partner has to be a pretty patient person when I’m in the middle of developing a new product. It’s all I want to talk about. It’s all I work on. Essentially when I’m formulating I’m solving a problem Rainman style. The world is full of products, but I take one on when I think I can do better. I take what I think are a few of the best and I dream up what I wish they were. Not as far as ingredients, that part is easy. I know how oils work with the skin and I know how to get the desired effect. But that thing I mentioned about luxury? That’s where this comes into play. With Lip Conditioner, sure, there were clean lip products on the market, but not one that lasted, was buttery, soft to the touch and yet not easily melted in warmer weather. With LIN I wanted a sugar scrub that felt whipped but didn’t collapse in the jar. I could go on. Achieving these things takes tiny tweaks over weeks and months over and over until I’m satisfied that they’re perfect. My standards for perfect are very high.
Favorite H product to concoct?
If you mean which one do I love most to make, it’s probably KINU. Who doesn’t love to watch gold swilrling around in oils? If you mean which one did I love to create it’s probably Lip Conditioner or LIN. Both gave me a run for my money and challenged me far more than I could have anticipated, which makes success so much sweeter.
How do you visualize or describe your personal Boketto Moment?
I have so many Boketto moments throughout the day. I think that comes from living in a perpetual state of gratitude. I love my morning cacao drink and the raw cereal I eat every morning without fail. I love masking and taking a bath. I love every part of my work. I love spending time with my partner and my kids. I love living a life of wellness and choosing to be good to myself and to others by being intentional with every purchase I make and product I use. I’m intentional about these things because they feed my soul. My soul responds with gratitude.