We visit the LA home of Emily and Fred L’Ami to talk about their wellness business, Bodha.
Bodha is the cumulation of Emily L’Ami’s lifelong fascination with rituals and aromatherapy. It was this, combined with a desire to help people reconnect with themselves, that led her to start Bodha in Wellington in 2013. Just two years later the business is now based in LA, after Emily and her husband Fred applied to the Green Card lottery on a whim and won.
It might not have been planned, but the move has worked out. Soon after arriving in LA, the couple found their dream home and studio in West Hollywood. From there Emily designs Bodha products alongside Fred, who designs for his own business, South Society. They invited us in to see how it all works.
How did you get into the business of creating ritualistic products? Emily: Growing up in New Zealand with hippie parents I was introduced to things like yoga and meditation from a young age. I always loved the little rituals that went with them – lighting the incense before meditation, or selecting an essential oil for yoga.
I started Bodha because I felt like people were craving simple ways to reconnect and rituals and aromatherapy do this incredibly well. Because rituals work on the subconscious, their power builds slowly over time, while aromatherapy works on the most primal part of your brain, so it’s the fastest way to naturally come back into equilibrium.
Why did you make your new home your studio too? Fred: It had the space and we couldn’t bear the thought of a daily commute in a city as large as LA. We’ve found working together can be intense, but also a lot of fun.
How do you maintain work/life balance? Emily: I feel like it’s a mixture of going with the flow, combined with making a conscious effort to step away from work. When you’re busy you have to work more, but when you’re not you can go for a hike, catch up with a friend or check out a gallery. Working for yourself is a blessing and a curse. You have the luxury of flexibility, but you also have to treat it with a lot of discipline to get things done and enjoy it.
We also start every day with a walk. It helps to clear the head and get the day off to a good start.
What attracted you to your new home and workspace? Fred: So much of your experience of living in LA centres around where you live, so after we landed we rented a bunch of places in different parts of the city to get a feel for each neighbourhood because they’re all so unique. We decided on West Hollywood because it was close to friends, had more space than other places we were considering, and had a high walkability score. It’s also right in the middle of LA, so it’s handy to most things.
Having set up home in various parts of the world over the years, are there many pieces that have come along for the ride? Emily: Art, books and things that friends have made always come with us – which is pretty much everything we own. Basically anything that has a memory attached to it. The Pedro stool made by a friend makes me infinitely happier to see and use each day than something new.
How would you describe your interior style? Fred: Simple, functional, with touches of personality. We love living in a space that has its own character – in this case there’s a Spanish influence throughout with the whitewashed rendered walls and curved ceilings. This makes the place feel bright, while the north-facing aspect provides shade from the blazing LA sun.
What are your own everyday rituals that you perform at home? Emily: Each afternoon I go to my little meditation space, light my diffuser or a stick of incense and sit down to meditate for 20 minutes. It’s a super simple ritual but it gets me through that 3pm slump. I love the sense of ceremony it brings to my day and I always feel better afterwards.
We hear you’ve recently collaborated with a couple of other talented Kiwis on the latest products in your collection? Emily: Yes! We worked with Jamie McLellan and Gidon Bing on our new Ritual Oil Diffuser. We wanted to make a diffuser that was so beautiful it inspired people to use it every day so we knew we had to work with the best. I’ve admired Jamie’s work for a long time – everything he does is so thoughtful and timeless and his eye for shape and form is incredible. He spent over two years working with us to understand how a diffuser functions and how we wanted people to feel when they used it. Getting to work with Gidon to make the diffuser was the icing on the cake. His eye for colour and glazing is so refined it just takes things to the next level. I’m so happy with how the diffuser turned out and I feel so lucky to have had the chance to work with them both.
Any plans to add your line? Emily: At the moment we’re working on a range of ritual oils to go with the diffuser. They’ll be aromatherapy blends – like our incense, designed to calm, refresh, ground and purify. We’re also collaborating with the amazing Marta Buda – and will hopefully do some more projects with Jamie. I really want to make things that help people find that little moment of reconnection – it’s the simplest and hardest thing in life at the same time. bodhamodernwellness.com
Photography Megan Cullen