We now employ 45 people – almost all relatives of my wife, so it is very much a family business. We currently have 42 outlets – including new stores in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Russia and England. For all that, I am still closely involved in product development and manufacture and it remains fun to do. I never want this to change.
By accident I then came across a group of Thai intellectuals who had embarked on organic farming – ahead of their time, back then. Through this contact I became interested in extracting pure plant oils from their crops as a commercial venture – initially Neem Oil for use as a natural insecticide. My wife and I originally made it up in the kitchen of our Bangkok apartment and sold it at Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market. We then had a stroke of luck when UNICEF in Thailand heard about us and placed large orders of mosquito repellent for use by their teams working in the field. I’d studied aromatherapy in the States so our product range expanded and we then decided on a move to a more restful environment. We set up our first outlet in 2000 on Surin Beach close to the big hotel operations which were one of our potential markets.
I was born and brought up in Malibu just outside Los Angeles/Hollywood and surfed on Malibu beach as a kid. I studied photography and cinematography at UCLA and inevitably went into the movie business, just as my father and his father before him had done.
I joined a team visiting Thailand to evaluate shooting locations. Their plans didn’t pan out so the team went back home and I stayed here. The end of my movie career! That was in 1996.