Anna Fahey and Bailey Meredith appreciate a good bath. The two friends found a gap in their towel racks for considered, art-driven and high quality towelling and, with their combined background in fashion and design, came together to form BAINA. Anna and Bailey invite us into their Auckland studio to discuss the importance of bathing as self-care, their bathroom non-negotiables and the inspiration behind BAINA’s distinct aesthetic.
LM Woman #42 / Anna and Bailey from BAINA
What philosophy do you live by?
We try to live each day by improving our habits. Whether this be our natural reactions in situations, or the way in which we consume. We are very honest with each other and can openly acknowledge each other’s strengths and perhaps where we need to improve. We hold each other accountable, and strive to do better always. We have so much fun too, work shouldn’t be boring, we love cultivating a positive environment and making our work space a reflection of our mood.
"We decided to design organic cotton bath towels that could be selected in a way that fashion could – to reflect our personalities."
Can you tell is about your journey that led you to BAINA? Did you both grow up in Auckland?
We both met at high school in the Waikato New Zealand, becoming good friends from the age of 14. Our paths have at time closely intertwined and at others being serviced from other sides of the globe. We both worked extensively in the New Zealand fashion industry, fortuitously working together at a NZ womenswear label then again in Melbourne at the design led homewares manufacturer, Jardan. We both shared a similar vision on how we would create our own business should the opportunity arise. We spent many walks, wines, and weekends away brainstorming what we felt we could contribute to the market. Towels was something we both felt we could passionately get behind. We both share a love of bathing, and agreed our linen cupboards were lacking in the towel department. We explored the towelling market and felt there was nothing that spoke to our aesthetics. We decided to design organic cotton bath towels that could be selected in a way that fashion could – to reflect our personalities.
"We have come to learn that even the smallest of details can evoke a certain feeling and spark an idea worth exploring."
BAINA feels like a breath of fresh air in the world of bath-ware. Where do you draw most of your inspiration from?
Thank you! We certainly chose a product that has traditionally being fairly ordinary. When we settled on designing towels a whole new world of design possibilities opened up. We seek inspiration from many avenues. We look at architecture, interior design, art & nature, always with a focus on colour theory. Fashion plays a large part in our design process as this is our first language, it what we are most familiar with. We have come to learn that even the smallest of details can evoke a certain feeling and spark an idea worth exploring. We also design in a way that works back to what already exists in the collection, as we launch new colours and designs you will see every towel has a place, and serves a different aesthetic, whilst still remaining distinctively BAINA.
"Whenever I'm feeling the need to disconnect, I draw a bath. It provides instant release and comfort – no problem seems quite as bad after a long soak."
What does self care look like to you? Do you have any daily rituals?
A: I am very lucky to be living rural at present. We have a plumbed in outdoor tub, which overlooks native New Zealand bush. I run a warm bath and tune out of my busy day of meetings and emails. This isn’t a permanent arrangement so I am making the most of the peace and quiet. It is heaven.
I certainly build time into my day to bathe, something I have always done. Since my first year of university I have always had a bath tub in my various homes, making it my sanctuary for any of life’s monumental moments where self-reflection is required.
Both B and I found ourselves turning to our tubs during the recent lock downs. The stresses that came with such unknowns meant taking time for our mental health was a priority. We both encourage each other to switch off and run a bath – guilt free.
B: I like to keep my self care routine accessible and in easy reach. Nothing too complex or unobtainable. For me it’s the simple repetitive actions that keep me grounded and connected to self. I’m lucky to live in a place called Titirangi, west of Auckland city. We are surrounded by bush and close to the rugged west coast beaches. I make the most of what’s on my back door step by taking a big walk each morning. It helps me clear my head and become focused for the day. Whenever I’m feeling the need to disconnect, I draw a bath. It provides instant release and comfort - no problem seems quite as bad after a long soak.
Apart from BAINA, what are your bathroom non-negotiables?
A: We’d both agree on a good candle. To me brand or scent is not necessary, it is more the light it projects. The flicker and shadows are mesmerising and sends your nervous system into a deep stillness. A glass of water – always nice to have a chilled water to ensure you can withstand a lengthy bathe. A face cloth – as this is usually my opportunity to apply a face mask – we’ve just launched our Agnes Face Cloths, and they are perfectly sized to steam one’s face.
B: Absolutely agree with Anna, I love having an array of candles lit at night when I take a bath. I also enjoy an indoor plant- it’s important to me to have the presence of nature within our home. My favourite towel (right now it’s the Roman in sage/chalk). A cotton robe – I love being able to wrap up before leaving the bathroom, especially on cold mornings. A special bar of soap - since launching BAINA I’ve returned to the traditional bar, especially in the bath or shower. There’s something nostalgic about lathering the soap between your hands and running it over your body.
Why is ethical production so important to you?
The world we live in is under constant pressures from the manufacturing industry, every plant contributes to the detriment of our environment. For us we didn’t want this on our conscience. Our factory is extremely progressive and constantly reworking efficiencies to maintain its reputation as a leader in it’s within the home and textile industry. Globally recognised certifications allow brands like us to be confidently assured in the principles and practises of our mill as they are required to submit regular audits and meet a very stringent level of social and environmental requirements in order to maintain these certifications. We visited the mill in February 2020 (right before the world ground to a halt) and were incredibly blown away by their transparency and production efficiencies.
BAINA holds a very special space in our heart at Lee Mathews. What would your advice be to someone looking to navigate the path of starting their own business?
The feeling is mutual, we have been fans of the LM brand for a very long time. Our advice would be to be brave and take risks. But be thorough in doing your research, know the market you are selling to - whether this is wholesale or direct, the more knowledge you have stepping into a business the better visibility you will have of your potential success and the pathways to it. Embrace your community, work with your networks to build momentum, lean on them and assist them with their endeavours in return. Most importantly, believe in your idea and in yourself. Let go of any self-doubt and jump in.