Abroad - another creative New Zealander living away from home:

A B R O A D   |   Where we meet New Zealanders living and creating overseas...
This time, we chat to Emily L'Ami, founder of Bodha Modern Wellness, now calling Los Angeles home.

First, a little about Bodha. Bodha is a boutique collection of modern ritual and aromatherapy products, designed by Emily and made by artisans from Japan to New Zealand, with the intent of helping you come back to yourself.  The Bodha collection - organic incense, brass incense holders, botanic oils, beautiful ceramic oil diffusers and more - are all very thoughtfully-developed, contemporary interpretations of the traditional ritual items Emily has been using for years, to calm, ground, purify and refresh. 

Emily's husband, established NZ designer Fred L'Ami, created the Bodha brand and packaging

Perfection in the form of a brass incense holder

Art direction and photography all by Fred,
who has a studio in LA and also still works with a selection of NZ clients

Where do you live and who do you live with?
I live in West Hollywood, Los Angeles with my husband, graphic designer & photographer Fred L’Ami.

Tell us about Bodha – what was the journey to creating this brand?
Bodha’s a modern wellness brand dedicated to helping people come back to themselves through the power of ritual and aromatherapy. I started Bodha because I feel like people are overwhelmed by daily life and are desperate for small easy ways to reconnect with their inner world. Rituals work on the subconscious while aromatherapy is the fastest way to simulate a response in the amygdala (our emotional centre) - together they’re a powerful combination that can instantly help you feel a sense of grounded calm.

Tell us when and why you moved away from NZ?
I’ve lived away from NZ a couple of times now – London, Vancouver and Sydney with stints back in Auckland and Wellington. We moved to L.A. just over a year ago after winning Green Cards in the Diversity Lottery. The Green Card means you can live and work in the U.S. with no restrictions, so I could bring Bodha here and Fred could start his own studio – it is a huge opportunity and luxury to have these visas so we knew we had to give it a go!

Emily and Fred's home in West Hollywood;
Emily packaging Bodha products in her home studio

What are your fave things about living in L.A.?
There’s a sense of freedom that comes from living in such a huge and diverse city. L.A.’s having a real renaissance at the moment and you can feel it, there’s a creative energy and a lot of positivity that’s infectious. The constant sunshine is also pretty great although you truly begin to miss weather – I dream about the smell of rain.

What do New Zealanders take for granted?
Access to social services, especially health-care. Knowing there’s no safety net adds a level of anxiety, plus everyone is always telling you horror stories of some friend that got sick and is now completely bankrupt.

Grabbing a coffee at their fave WeHo cafe, Blue Bottle 

Emily makes the most of the LA weather at a 'secret' Malibu beach

How do you spend your weekends/down-time?
Exploring the city and its surrounds – there is always something to check out – a new gallery, a new hike, a new restaurant. Most weekends we’ll head to a beach or a canyon for some much needed nature time. I especially love the drive along the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu where there’s lots of little hidden beaches and beautiful clear Pacific Ocean.

Beautiful oil diffusers in blush pink, almond white and french green.
The tealight is concealed (we love that, they're not the prettiest of things) and the small inlet hole doubles as an on-off switch - put your finger over the hole to extinguish the flame

Your oil diffuser was designed by Jamie McLellan and they’re all hand-cast and glazed by Gidon Bing, both here in NZ.  How did the creative process work, being on opposite sides of the world?
The creative process was the same it just took a bit longer shipping samples back and forth. In lots of ways the enforced time lag was really beneficial because it slowed things down and gave us time to reflect and create something we’re ultimately all really proud of.

Working with kiwis is so much easier because there’s this inherent set of shared values and everyone gets sarcasm! It also just feels good to support your country in some small way. I love New Zealand so much and want to do everything I can to show it off to the world!

What’s coming next for Bodha?
We’re working on a candle that ionizes and purifies the air as it burns. I love the ritual of lighting a candle and the sense of atmosphere they create but unfortunately most candles aren’t very healthy to use in your home. There’s still lots of testing and tweaking to do but the initial samples are great - we can’t wait to share it!

Bodha Modern Wellness   online store   /   Instagram

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