Created in memory of his Mother, Joshua Tong is spreading a little magic by sharing the powerful transcendent qualities of scent and smoke with his MAHŌ Sensory Sticks. Founded in Melbourne, the range honours the ancient art and wisdom of burning to awaken the senses and transport the mind to an oasis of inner calm...
Scroll to find out a little more about Joshua, MAHŌ's creator...
THE QUICK CHAT:
Often Found: Chasing the sun
Listening to: Deep Forest – incredible world music where they mix ethnic folk sounds to chillout beats. Favourite track is Sweet Lullaby.
Whilst sipping: SpeakEasy – a herbal tea blend I am working on (stay tuned)
Passionately discussing: how to induce calm and positive energy through selflove and ritualistic practices.
And working on: The soon to launch MAHŌ Sensory Tea collection
THE DEEP DIVE
Can you please tell us a little bit about what you do? In Buddhism, we believe that incense is the vessel that takes your prays to the heavens. My Mother would tell me that when we burn incense, especially at the welcoming of the Lunar New Year, our hopes and wishes (usually being health and prosperity) would transcend to the heavens and this is where our wishes were heard. We also burn incense on anniversaries of passing, to pay our respects and connect with who we have lost.
When my Mother passed suddenly in 2011, it felt like I fell into a world of darkness because of what she taught me about incense as a child. After she passed I would sit by her alter and burn incense, one after another, in the hope that she will hear me. I didn’t realise until years later that the very act of doing so gave me a sense of calm and connection. That's why I've dedicated many years creating the best incense I could, and this is how MAHŌ came to be.
What does sustainability mean to the brand? Our incense is made only from wood and bark that has fallen from trees. We harvest the specific types of wood we need, only by hand picking them from the ground. Sustainability and responsibility to the earth is very much a part of our zen – we must perverse our earth not only for this lifetime but many futures to enjoy.
At MAHO Sensory, Fair Trade practices and a commitment to traditional techniques are at the heart of your philosophy. Can you tell us a bit more about that? Incense itself dates back to 3300BC and was not only used in spiritual practices, but as home fragrance.
For this reason, and for my mother, I wanted to create incense of the highest quality, created with traditional techniques and using recipes handed down generations through historical scrolls. I spent quite some time working with families or communities who all make incense differently.
The family we work very closely with are multi-generational makers and this is their passion. All the incense is produced in-house using only Fair Trade practices.
What have been the biggest challenges of creating and growing your brand? We launched in January 2020, and by March the WHO declared a global pandemic which is probably the biggest setback, especially as we were so new.
Since then, there have been recessions, change in government, fuel prices, supply chain disasters, shipping prices, a war and low consumer confidence which are all major challenges we must work through. I am just hoping it will be over very soon and retail bounces back stronger than ever.
Where do you look to for inspiration? Different cultures and their practices. I find so much intrigue and fascination in ethnic and religious richness. So much so, I would travel to many far reaches of the globe to study them. I do also find much of my inspiration during travel, for example I re-created a scent Rose Bois (which is a blend of distinct floral and woods), while scooting around the alleys of Seminyak, Bali,
Next I will visit the Maya civilization in Mexico towards in December. I'm super excited!
What is next for MAHŌ Sensory? For me personally, I find creating products more effectless if they are something I am passionate about. Building on the ritual focus of the brand, MAHŌ is excited to be launching a range of artisan teas, very much like the intricate tea ceremonies you will find in Japan and China. I don’t drink coffee, as I am sensitive to caffeine, so tea is my obsession not only for taste but wellness. Working on this new collection has been an absolute dream of mine.
MAHŌ has also been nominated for the Melbourne Design Awards 2022 for an upcoming art collection which I am hoping to launch in 2023. Watch this space!
JOSHUA'S FAVOURITE NASH + BANKS PICKS
Joshua shares his fave three available on the Nash + Banks website - click through for more information and to buy online
VINTAGE PIN NO. 3 - TIMBER SURFBOARD by MAYWOOD
I’m absolutely in love with this. I can’t surf however I think if I have this at home it will push me to take surfing lessons. And it will look incredible in my studio.
BOHÈME PARFUM by VAHY
Smell is something I appreciate and there’s nothing better than a good personal scent. This particular parfum has notes of Ylang Ylang which I love. They are also natural and vagan friendly and did I mention the beautiful packaging?
I love to keep active whether it is yoga or walking Bear around the block, and a good pair of joggers can take me from exercise to grocery store in style.