For many, bathrooms have become—or always have been—utilitarian to the nth degree. We’ve little sense of intimacy or solace, defaulting to autopilot as we plod through routines rather than looking to grooming regimens as grounding rituals. Shifting that mindset could be as easy as elevating your essentials. Buying products that feel indulgent lets you hone in on the sensory experience. You can find stillness in the shower before a frenetic day ahead, and savor soaking and scrubbing as a means to wind down at night. That concept was the driving force behind BAINA.
Conceptualized by Bailey Meredith and Anna Fahey, BAINA towels stray from the monochromatic color schemes we’ve come to expect. Drawing inspiration from architecture and nature, these bath mats and towels on offer come in playful checkerboard prints in punchy color combos, as well as more pared-down tones with nature-inspired designs.
Made in Portugal the towels’ composition is entirely GOTS-certified organic cotton that’s farmed without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, synthetic dyes, or genetic modification, benefitting the wellbeing of the planet (not to mention the farmers). The double-looped terry cloth makes them weighty, soft, and absorbent across the line of bath, pool, face, and hand towels.
We spoke with co-founder Anna Fahey about sources of inspiration, optimal ways to be more intentional about self-care, and why towels seemed to be the perfect vessel for this message.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Men’s Journal: Can you give us a little primer on your background?
Anna Fahey: [I met co-founder Bailey Meredith] at high school in New Zealand, becoming good friends at the age of 14. Since schooling, our paths have closely intertwined at times. We’ve worked extensively in the New Zealand fashion industry, fortuitously working together at a womenswear label then again in Melbourne at a design-led homewares manufacture brand. After feeling the burnout from the cyclical pressures of the fashion industry, we had a light bulb moment upon discovering the season-less element of homewares. We had, at many times, discussed starting a business together. Knowing that we were aligned in aesthetic, understood each other’s work ethic, and shared the same vision of what we stand for, we felt ready to launch a brand. When analytically reviewing the homewares market, it became very clear that there were few players in the towelling category, and those that were dominating were not our personal aesthetic. We thought if we felt this way, then surely others did also. So BAINA was born.
Why towels? Was it a fairly easy transition with the contacts you made in the fashion/interior design world?
Easy yes, but not the kind of ease without effort. We knew fashion doorways were broadening their offerings of homewares in store. Stocking fragrances and candles as part of their gifting suite. We felt with BAINA it wouldn’t be difficult to convince them to extend their offering to towelling. It also meant we could be sold in homewares and lifestyle stores. We also knew interior designers would be interested in a new player in the towelling category, and have worked very hard at creating relationships within the interiors space. I would say it was easy because we knew our market early on, but it was our experience that put us in a good stead to action our strategy.
How did you want to disrupt the space—or elevate what was currently available?
We wanted to think about the towel-buying experience as though it were like buying fashion: Create a product that’s elevated and thoughtful while instilling a loyalty through a brand connection. We also wanted to encourage people to think about the meditative element. We often see bathing as such a robotic task, but really it can be the only time in a day where we can turn off. BAINA allowed us to speak to the role bathing can have in ensuring balance in the day.
What, to you, makes the perfect bath towel?
Functionally it needs to be of a quality that lasts many uses over many years: dense enough to feel luxurious, but light enough to air dry in time for its next use. Aesthetically, a color and design that complements the space, that’s calming and induces full relaxation.
What were the most important features? What couldn’t you compromise on?
We have a few. We only wanted to launch a product that was of exceptional design, lasting quality, sustainably produced and by a brand we and others will covet. Without one of these, BAINA towelling could not exist.
Initial sources of inspiration for patterning and color? What was the initial vision, and does it differ looking to the future?
From the beginning until now, we take inspiration from many avenues. We look at architecture, interior design, art, and nature—always with a focus on color theory. Fashion plays a large part in our design process as this is our first language; it’s what we’re most familiar with. We’ve come to learn that even the smallest 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 colors and designs, you’ll see every towel has a place and serves a different aesthetic, whilst still remaining distinctively BAINA.
How do you want people to feel when using BAINA towels…transported to another place, or levity and bliss in slowing down and being mindful?
Exactly that: BAINA to us has become something more than just a towel, but rather a concept of being mindful in the bathing experience. Ideally we would like our customers to feel a sense of self-care when they seek the time and create a bathing space that allows them to take care of themselves.
Do the bath towels differ from the pool, or is it just size?
Our pool towels are constructed the same as the rest of our collection, making them perfect bath sheets should you be feeling bold enough to bring them into your space.
What are your favorite towel combinations?
It changes all the time. Currently I adore the ivory. I have them on rotation with the Greenwich Tabac Bath Towel. The color combo is so fresh.
Any tips on turning mundane routines into mindful rituals?
I personally carve out time to bathe two to three times a week. Having a little one, I find it essential to step away from the chaos and spend time by myself. I let my husband know to ensure I’m not bothered, I take an icy glass of water with me to counter the hot water I’ll sit in for the next 40 minutes, then do a fully-body scrub and face mask. I’ll have my phone for music or a podcast. One trap one can fall into from time to time is scrolling while bathing. I like to ensure I’m using this time away from screens.
The bathroom is arguably the one room in the home built for solitude. Any design advice on making the space more of a sanctuary
Make sure your space is clean and free of clutter. Find storage for excess product, or kids’ bath toys, whatever you can do remove unnecessary visual distractions. In addition to stripping back, I do like to add a candle to create ambiance and a nice body wash saved for these moments. I have a few favorite skincare products: Sans [ceuticals] Bio Active Body Exfoliant [for the] physical act of polishing my body and cleansing away the day, MV Skin Therapy Signature Mineral Mask is a clay powder that I blend with water and LESSE Ritual serum, and a fresh facecloth is always a useful tool when removing a masque, and aids in exfoliation.
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