Back in early July, we’d just decided which skincare brand we wanted to stock. We’d been looking for a range of skin and hair care products for a while, and after narrowing it down to the top four through weeks of laborious luxury bathing, there was one brand that we knew we were happy to recommend to our customers: Haeckels.
The whole range smelled amazing, looked great on the bathroom shelf, and all did exactly what they’d promised. But there was something special about Haeckels that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Showering felt more like a spa treatment than bathing, it made me feel cleansed, refreshed and revitalised. Strong words, I know, and I’m well aware this is starting to sound like a beauty ad. My apologies. But honestly, there was a certain “I do not know what” about it.
Our photographer Will was on holiday in Cornwall at the time, and said to me “I swam in the sea today.” That was it. It’s been over two years since I last swam in the sea, and that’s exactly how it made me feel. By no coincidence, it turns out it even has a name. ‘Thalassotherapy’ is the use of seawater in cosmetic and health treatments, and it’s the core of the Haeckels range.
With this in mind, we sent Will back to the coast to get a feel for Haeckels home town of Margate.
[WILL] // In a former casino right on the seafront, Haeckels have set up a lab to create their product line. The original wood panelling contrasts with long steel worktops and specialist science equipment, where local ingredients are distilled, brewed and bottled. A skeleton crew was running the operation when I went, due to a staff wedding. Luckily, this meant I was able to explore the space freely. Trays of ingredients were neatly stacked into shelving units ready for testing, notes on different formulations were laying on desks, and finished products stood in rows of bottles ready to be shipped out.
Round the corner from the lab, the flagship Haeckels store adopts an unassuming position in a row of seafront units, with an understated khaki shopfront blending into its environment perfectly. However, stepping inside without knowing what to expect, I think my double take was probably very noticeable. An aluminium ramp led up, past insulating foil, a diffuser filling the front of the shop like steam from an airlock, and a second wall of glass, into a replica of a NASA HAB (you might have seen a similar setup in The Martian). Under the grated floor, plants were being grown in sealable containers, whilst futuristic shelving held neat rows of bottles interspersed with sample trays and even more science equipment. I don’t think I can do the space justice in writing, and I won’t try, but I was thankfully allowed to take pictures after I calmed down having felt like I’d mistakenly stepped into a moon base.
A stone’s throw from the shop and down a concrete ramp, the beach is carpeted in huge amounts of kelp, broken up by long groynes jutting out into the sea. Looking backwards, huge stone blocks separate the beach from the town, and made for another complete change in the atmosphere of the place. I didn’t venture too far into the kelp, having come on the train with one pair of shoes, but even a few steps onto the beach with the ocean out in front of me, it didn’t feel like I’d just stepped off a main road.
A little further down the beach, the kelp is interrupted again by the Walpole tidal pool, a huge square of still water with a few swimmers braving the cold (it might have been warm. I didn’t get in). I carefully inched around the pool wall - potentially the slippiest surface I’ve ever encountered - and spotted someone further out wading through the seaweed, collecting something in a bucket. I decided he was probably harvesting the kelp, because it would have been perfect timing, although one of the swimmers told me he was probably fishing for crabs. I don’t think she could even see him from in the water, though, so he was definitely harvesting seaweed. //
Haeckels have one of only two licenses in the UK to harvest kelp. Seaweed hydrates; it’s rich with valuable vitamins, minerals and amino acids; it’s anti-bacterial, skin rebuilding and anti-inflammatory; it’s all natural, and all around us. Under their coastal licence, Haeckels harvest it by hand from the beach just steps away from their shop, and most of their line features this unique resource as a key ingredient.
All in all, we couldn’t be happier to bring their products from Margate to Manchester. Personally, I’ve found my cosmetics ‘brand for life’.
Explore the collection here.