In conversation



Joshua Tong

"The importance we place on riches is so unnecessary. I do hope we have more appreciation of the world and people – to stay grounded. "

Melbourne, Australia 
37.8136° S, 144.9631° E


Where did you grow up & where are you based now ? 

I grew up in Melbourne, Australia but decided to leave for London when I was 24 straight after university.  I thought Melbourne was much too quiet for me as I loved the bright lights and high energy of a big city. I Spent over 2 years working and travelling in Europe and loved every minute of it. Reluctantly I returned home as my visa expired. Now at 36, I'm based back in Melbourne with a greater appreciation of the pace at home.

Did your upbringing influence your approach to spirituality and your connection with the world & nature? 

I was raised in a spiritual Buddhist upbringing however attended a Catholic school. But religion wasn’t really something I adopted, rather spiritual learnings. I later went on to explore the idea of energy and the law of attraction. A big part of being spiritually in tune is finding ways to remain grounded. 

What was your professional background before creating Mahō?   

My parents being immigrants from Saigon came with very little and limited education, which was why they always encouraged me to study hard and become an accountant. I didn’t want to disappoint them so I graduated with a Bachelor of business and commerce and went straight to corporate banking. It was fine and exciting at the age of 22, however it wasn’t long after I knew this was something I really didn’t enjoy. Creative careers were something they thought was not secure. I stuck at it until 33 when it became too draining on my soul, so I left banking and was accepted into the Melbourne School of Fashion.  From there I fine-tuned my crafts in design and fashion – I’ve always known this was going to be my career, I just had to wait for the right timing and right maturity in mindset and courage to go out and create something meaningful for myself. It wasn’t an easy road – I had to hustle with school while waitering and taking on random jobs here and there to support myself and my project. It has taken me  three years to launch MAHŌ, there was so much hard work and still more to come but honestly it was the most fulfilled I had ever been.

Can you share any rituals you maintain in your daily life?

I usually start the day with either a 45 minute yoga session or 30 minute morning meditation, I rotate this during the week. Before each session I would light 1 MAHŌ Sensory Stick which helps me gently wake up and get into a different mental space. I would always brew a pot of herbal tea and finish this before I leave for work. After dinner I would always spend at least an hour to myself with no distractions of television or socials and focus on either my personal work/goals/developments, even if that includes sourcing the perfect blazer for a dinner party etc. Again I light another Sensory Stick – the time to focus on myself allows me to be aligned with what makes me happy and also helps me unwind for a better night’s sleep. I usually do this 2-3 times a week. On nights which I do not have time, I would practice affirmations while brushing my teeth before bed.

In these unsettling times we are experiencing life as we've never known it before. How do you hope this changes people's attitudes to society and the world around them ?

I’ve said this as a joke in the past but I really do think what we are experiencing now is almost like the universe’s way of hitting the reset button. It has forced us to stop and slow down. What I am realising is that money is worthless in times like this – even if I had plenty there was nothing I can do with it, the importance we place on riches is so unnecessary. I do hope we have more appreciation of the world and people – to stay grounded.


What do you treasure most?

Definitely my family. 
What are your favourite destinations and why?

I have been fortunate enough to be able to travel to many destinations so far, and every place I have visited is amazing in different ways, however my absolutely favourite has to be Bali. Cultural, spiritual, calming, exhilarating, warm beautiful people, diverse and the best food I have had anywhere. Actually all my fragrances are inspired by memories of travel – for example, Gypsy Wood was inspired by the time I backpacked around Eastern Europe and White Musk was inspired by a time I had lunch in L.A.

What is beauty & art to you ? A great sense of personal style and confidence to not care what others think. Creations of passion – I even consider pattern making as art. The creation of silhouettes I feel is genius in the way it can transform the way you feel.  

How important is nature to you and how do you connect with it?

I am more of a city boy and I enjoy the urban lifestyle, however coastal vibes are what I crave for. I am most relaxed by the sea, so I try and escape to the beach either around Australia or Bali. It's great that I am only ever 20 mins away from a beach from home.


What are your favourite sources of inspiration?

It's strange but my first stage of inspiration is always from the Dulux colour wall at a hardware store! I love looking at all the colour gradients laid out perfectly and from there I create a mood. I usually look out for vibes more than anything – just situations or places that make me feel something. For example, scooting round Bali I smell this sort of interesting rose, it’s not floral but weirdly funky, so I decided to add sandalwood and chocolate to create to ‘Rose Bois’ which is a fragrance from my collection. 

What is next on the horizon for you and Mahō?

I believe what I have created with MAHŌ is an innovation to the classic incense in that I still maintain the powerful transcendent qualities of scent and smoke that induce calm and relaxation, however they still deliver a scent throw like no other.  Ideally I would love to further develop and add to the range and hopefully become known as a specialist in my category. I am currently designing a new burner and fragrance for my 2021 collection.


Describe Mahō in three words ?
Sensory. Refined. Timeless.