As you may have seen, we recently launched the 91 Magazine gift boxes! If you haven’t seen them yet, pop over to the shop for a peek – they are filled with a lovely collection of goodies from independent brands to enjoy with your copy of 91.
To celebrate, and also to allow you to find out more about the brands we’ve included, we are chatting to each business owner in the run up to Christmas. In September we chatted to Bare Bones Chocolate, in October, it was Tea in The Moment, and this month it’s the turn of Forest Mystic…
Captivated by the spirit and beauty of India whilst travelling, Adam Robinson was inspired to establish his business, Forest Mystic, creating luxurious incense from the Himalayas
How would you describe Forest Mystic, in a nutshell?
We’re all about making traditional, all-natural Indian incense. Forest Mystic incense is ethically made in the Himalayan foothills of North India. We use the finest quality aromatic botanicals and roll the incense by hand to ensure a distinctive burning experience and beautiful fragrance.
What inspired the idea of setting up your business, and how did you develop it?
I travelled to India many times between 2016 and 2020. I was captured by its beauty. I’ve always been a fan of incense sticks, but when I found the authentic handmade agharbatti sticks whilst in the Himalayan foothills, they just blew me away.
What did you do before setting up your business?
That’s an interesting one. I worked in IT from leaving school right up until I sold my business in 2016. I was a really ambitious young guy and worked very hard. I became a bit burned out and eventually turned to meditation to regain some inner balance.
Where do you find creative inspiration?
Nature, nature, nature. If you really look at a leaf or an insect, you’ll notice the incredible intelligence which manifests itself in nature. When we enter a creative state, what we’re actually doing is stepping out of the way so that same intelligence can express itself through our mind and body. If I feel stuck, I’ll often take some space from the situation and go for a walk in the forest or by the sea. It’s amazing how often the solution just appears by itself.
What is the ethos behind your business?
It’s all about those simple moments of pure being. That’s where the magic lies. We have become conditioned to chase the next thing, whatever it might be, rather than to just enjoy what’s happening around us. So, the ethos is to give my customers a very good reason to stop, light an incense stick, and pay attention to the moment.
What has been the greatest hurdle in starting your own business?
That’s an easy one – awareness. It can be frustrating when you have a great product with great feedback but not many people know about your brand. I have to remind myself that it takes time, and good things will always grow organically.
Is there an element of your work that you love the most?
It’s a lot of fun to create a product from scratch. You go through so many stages… even getting the packaging right can take a huge amount of time. Once you’ve got the finished product, you have to be ready to close that chapter and begin getting your product out there on sale, which is a very different part of the process. Starting with an idea and watching that idea manifest itself into something that people can buy and use is a very enjoyable journey. Often I’ll get some nice feedback on one of my products and I’m reminded of how it came to be.
How do you approach marketing and PR?
It’s not really my strong point. A good marketer is punctual, efficient, regular. I am none of those and I have made peace with that. I can be intensely focused on one thing this week and something totally different the next. I think it’s important to be honest with yourself about your strengths and limitations. I think my last Instagram post was 18 months ago! Luckily, the incense really sells itself and I have many regular customers.
What’s one thing people would be surprised you do in your job?
I love building and fixing things, so I spend a couple of days per week out and about in my local area as a builder and handyman. The balance of creative thought and using my hands is great fun. It’s a lovely way to serve my community and it also means I don’t spend all my time sitting behind a desk!
What’s the most important lesson that running your business has taught you about life?
Don’t take anything too seriously, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes.
Any good advice for independent creative businesses who are just starting out?
Simple is beautiful. Keep everything as simple as possible.
A favourite book: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
A creative hero: Painter Bob Ross
Makers I love: I’m always in awe of traditional Japanese carpenters. Their woodworking skills are mind-blowing.
Inspirational places: Anywhere with plenty of trees