Dom Bridges of Haeckels on why he is drawn to the sea
Photographs Jo Bridges
Dom Bridges, founder of natural fragrance and skincare brand Haeckels, explains why the coast that provides the raw material for his company is a constant source of inspiration…
A ‘hole-and-corner’ is an old English term meaning a secret place: somewhere you go to contemplate, create and be inspired. Where is your ‘hole-and-corner’?
For me, it’s anywhere near the sea: the sea is all I need really for deep thought, inspiration and creative ‘mind-streaming’. It is said that to truly think deeply, you must give your eyes something to do to allow your mind to wander progressively. Staring at the sea from my hut, hammock or seabathing machine – or just walking by the sea – allows my eyes to focus on the sky, sea and sand. The whole uninterrupted environment allows my mind to wander off into its own world.
Can you explain why it is so special to you?
The sea, beaches and entire coast give me the opportunity to provide for my family – while also providing local jobs, crafting products that represent the rich natural heritage of our town and neighbourhood in Margate. This is very dear to me and I’m deeply thankful for being able to live near the sea and promote it as a natural asset.
Is it important to you to have somewhere to escape from the hustle and bustle of life?
I’ve lived in many places, but always naturally gravitated to the sea without realising I was seeking it out. So in answer to the question: I prefer the enormity of a natural phenomenon rather than the bustle of a city. It provides me with clarity, makes me humble and focused… it’s also important to me to raise our daughter here. Hopefully she’ll grow with the sea by her side and it will encourage her to travel the world.
What elements do you think make a perfect ‘hole-and-corner’?
Space to think, to ponder and create. Allowing your eyes to exercise is good for philosophising. A good ‘hole-and-corner’ is a special place, a private place – but I guess now I’m a dad it’s also our home. The house is very different now. And so a big component of a ‘hole-and-corner’ would have to be love – a true love of something or someone.
Is it private to you or do you let other people visit?
The space the sea creates is in my head, so it’s private unless I’m trying to share an idea. I don’t think anyone would like a trip inside my head!
What do you like to listen to when you’re working?
I mostly listen to film soundtracks of all kinds. I like the journey buried within them. They also create an ‘epicness’ to your surroundings when we’re out walking or working on the beach – they allow me to focus in another way. My ears are taken on a journey. Collecting seaweed against the sonic background of Clint Mansell’s score for The Fountain is truly inspiring.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
It was from a guy called Gee. He said: ‘Always take your boots off when entering a jungle; that way when you step on a snake, it won’t hurt it as much and it’s less likely to bite you.’ This sentence has saved me many a time: it’s telling us all to be humble and considerate. Don’t be a big head, basically: no one likes a big head.
What is your earliest memory?
I remember being taken to a coastal aquarium with my gran and my uncle George. I screamed so much they had to turn the lights on… and then screamed to have them turned off again! I remember going outside and smelling the sea again – and thinking, what was that all about?!