The true story behind how MAHŌ began is a very personal one – which I don’t share with many.
Incense have been a part of my heritage for long as I know, from a cultural family growing up in the south east of Melbourne, we use incense as a form of prayer and spirituality.
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 are heard. We also burn incense on anniversaries of passing – to pay our respects and it is our time to converse with those who we lost.
When my Mother passed in 2011 my world came crumbling down and I felt I had lost everything good in my life. I fell into a world of darkness and because of what she taught me about incense as a child, I would sit by her alter and burn incense – one after another in the hopes that she would hear me.
I didn’t realise until years later that the very act of doing so gave me a sense of calm and connection.
So three years ago I began to deconstruct the classic incense, and reconstructed it to create a modern ritual which can be adopted by a wider audience. I decided to re-brand the term incense to Sensory Sticks as everyone has such a pre-conceived idea of what incense are. I really feel like what I have created is a Melbourne innovation to the classic incense where I still retain the powerful transcendent qualities of scent and smoke that induce and calm and relaxation at the same time offer a sensory refinement with a sophisticated collection of fragrances.
And so MAHŌ was born in memory of my Mother.
MAHŌ translates to ‘Magic’ in Japanese – our tag being ‘A Little Magic’. Which is what we hope to bring to each customer.
I would spend over 6 moths blending each fragrance; the notes and accords must be so specifically blended to compliment the sandalwood base. Each fragrance would have 25 - 50 prototypes before it would be perfect. In addition working and reworking the formula to create a 60 minute burn time within such a thin stick was an obstacle as we had to balance the oils, at the same time be conscious of the level of smoke intensity.
The colour palette to every aspect of the design was carefully thought through with the end user in mind. I wanted to create a modern ritual and experience rather than just a product.
The custom wave pattern that you are greeted with on the box is debossed, which flows through to the inner lid of the shipping box representing the delicate ripples of smoke. Once you slide the package open, I have included a welcome card which has a short story of each fragrance together with top, middle and base notes. A glass tube sits centre stage, and once the lid is opened, I have designed a simple gloss button burner with our ‘M’ logo engraved. Peeling off each layer, is ritualistic practice, like a Japanese tea ceremony, until one stick is placed on the button and lit.
Each stick is made using natural sandalwood/agarwood bark that has fallen off the trees (no trees are ever cut for incense making). It is 100% vegan and cruelty free.