We take a peek into the new Thai lifestyle concept store Harnn and catch up with its founder Paul Harn. By Zamahlasela Gabela Thailand’s most luxurious lifestyle brand has finally made its way to South Africa. Harnn Lifestyle Products are now available in South Africa, and the brand welcomed guests to a Thai experience last week Thursday in Melrose Arch. Their first concept store in the country is situated in Melrose Arch Retail Galleria and exudes a calm atmosphere. The products range from the famous rice bran oil soaps that Harnn is known for to home decor products like their signature candles. We sat down with founder and creator Paul Harn, to find out more about the brand. TRUE LOVE: What was the original idea behind starting Harnn? PAUL HARN: We actually started as being the first natural soap manufacturer in Thailand, we slowly expanded the product range into spa products and then body care and finally skincare. And by being a Thai brand, I decided on creating Harnn to be an Asian brand. Because the way we built the brand is that all the inspiration comes from being Asian. The knowledge and traditional herbal medicine and a lot of the formulation was influenced by Asian traditional medicine. Their design and inspiration for all the packaging and the retail concept also come from Asian art. I draw from Japanese, Chinese, Indian and Thai art. A lot of them are from my personal collection that I then further develop and make them more relevant to contemporary living and lifestyle. So this is how Harnn got started. We actually branched out quite a bit, we have Vuudh which is a lifestyle fragrance. So basically any scent that’s not directly on the skin is in the Vuudh range. You can spray it in your home or in your office, upholstery, carpets, drapes or even bed linen. We have aromatic candles and a variety of aromatic products for the home and offices. Some people actually use it in their cars as well. Then we also have the Tichaa which is the herbal tea, so that we have something nutritious and soothing to drink. It is 100% caffeine free, we infuse the tea with different herbs and spices as well. One of the best selling collections is the rice tea; we have roasted white rice, red rice and black rice. They all have really different flavours and fragrances, but all very soothing. We have something very unique, it’s a candle scented. We use aromatic smoke from scented candles to scent the tea leaves, we can currently do it in three different flavours; jasmine, cafe latte and Ylang Ylang it’s very fragrant and very smoky. We also have an edible essential in a spray that people can use to scent any tea that they already have at home. Or they can use it in food like salad dressing or sauces, or even frosting or filling. People who like to drink can also put them in cocktails and mocktails as well. So basically at Harnn Global Group we are a lifestyle company, we are creating lifestyle products that people can enjoy throughout their five senses. So this is the concept of the retail experience that we created that when people come to the shop the see new things. TL: Did you develop the recipes for the products that you sell, or were they things tht you took from your childhood? PH: Both. I think I draw inspiration from everything; my childhood and my grandmother’s recipes and from friends as well. Also from my travels and meeting people of every country and culture, so they all become inspiration. Basically, I just want to share my lifestyle experiences with our customers, novelty and innovative products that they can enjoy. TL: What’s your favourite product from Harnn? PH: It’s still the soap. I still enjoy bathing and using our soap bars. I know a lot of people have shied away from using soap bars because it dries up their skin, but fortunately with our rice bran oil soap we have eliminated that problem. So they can enjoy using soap bars again. It will soften as well as protect the skin from the harsh environment. TL: In terms of launching this new shop, how do you anticipate that South Africa will receive this product? PH: I think South Africans have become very sophisticated through travels, and they are more open now to new things. I think it’s a good time to come into South Africa while the market is still establishing and being one of the first natural and lifestyle product brand. TL: Who is the Harnn woman? PH: We cater to educated women, not just wealthy women. A lot of our customers are professionals. What we offer them is something that they never realise before, a lot of women think that if they like a certain scent they buy the whole collection from that scent. But what we’re trying to tell them is that there is more than that now, you can have a variety of scented products in your bathroom. In the morning you can use a scent that’ll make you refreshed and ready for work, in the evening you can use a different scent. Both the variety of the fragrances and the type of products we have give a richer lifestyle experience TL: Harnn is a brand that’s becoming recognised all over the world and won numerous awards, what is something that you still want to achieve with the brand? PH: I think we just started, there’s so much room to grow. I think our goal is to establish all the major metropolitans around the world. Right now though, a lot of our focus is in Asia, because of the growth. But eventually we’ll expand into Europe and the USA. TL: You started your career off as an architect, what made you decide to move into a lifestyle brand? PH: it was interesting, because now I’m designing for the five senses and experiences, not just buildings anymore. I’m designing fragrances, designing different tea formulations. We have our tea room where I’m also doing the cooking and designing a new menu so it’s a lot more exciting. I’m also designing some of the furniture in my shop.
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