Flamingo Estate is Richard Christiansen’s home and garden. It’s also the story of a lush orchard on a California hillside overlooking Los Angeles, and the many hands that have helped tend it. This place champions slow ways and ancient practices. Richard has been inspired from the beginning by his relationship to the green world and those who have given themselves fully to seeing it flourish and thrive.
With the help of friends and a network of incredible farmers, this team grows herbs and product for their candles. They harvest salt from Big Sur, press olive oil from very old trees, and keep bees for honey. All of it for pleasure, for others and themselves because they believe it’s a path to radical change and beauty. Follow along below to hear more about this incredible pursuit and why we love carrying part of their story in our shoppes!
Without further ado, Richard Christiansen.
Tell us about your journey. How did you arrive at Flamingo Estate?
Flamingo Estate is my home and garden. During the lockdown, we met farmers who were not able to sell their produce, so we began putting together a vegetable box. Little by little, box by box, our business grew and now we have 120 farms.
What inspires you guys daily?
Mother Nature is the ultimate artist, and we’re constantly learning from her. We also work with an incredible network of heirloom growers and farmers who work symbiotically with Mother Nature, trusting that she’ll care for us, if we care for her. They’re the hardest-working people we know, and they’ve taught us to look at everything, from beginning to end, as one interconnected-whole. To protect the ecosystems at large, from the moment the seed is planted, to sourcing, formulation, packaging, shipping and distribution, to its long lasting impact. My dream is that we wrap our arms around as many good growers as we can, and pay them well for what they do. They’re our biggest inspiration.
What makes your work stand out to you?
Flamingo Estate is a philosophy that champions slow ways and ancient practices. By working with Mother Nature so intimately, means that sometimes, storms roll in. We are often at the mercy of the elements, which sometimes means lower yields and higher costs, but we prefer it this way. You can feel the earth in each product, and the hands that tended it. Everything we do is a quest for intimacy — between plants and people, body and spirit, heaven and earth. We want to continue making beautiful products with precious ingredients — always with the help of our friends and network of incredible farmers. In all of it, we want to invest in pleasure — for ourselves and our clients and friends — because we think it’s a path to radical change and cataclysmic beauty. And in each product, you can feel it.
What does a day-in-the-work-life look like for you?
Mother Nature continuously teaches us to be nimble, and the work days very much reflect that. We are constantly pivoting and embracing an upside-down way of working, where we find a farm and ask “what can we make from this?” rather than deciding on what we want to make and then searching for an ingredient. We only work with the seasons, so every week is different depending on what our farmers are harvesting. There’s constant conversation and crazy ideas, photo shoots and brainstorming sessions, and lots of wine ;)
Who has been the most impactful individual in your life/career and why?
My dear friend Jane Goodall. As many of you know, she’s an extraordinary human — champion of the environment, cheerleader to all, light bearer of hope. Her book, Seeds of Hope, has been a guiding light for me and others that will bear fruit long into the future. It was because of this book that I reached out to Jane. And because of that first meeting that I started Flamingo Estate.
While reading her book, Jane sowed the seeds for my own curiosity about the green world and my part in it. I started thinking about how I could make a difference by honoring this relationship. If I could really reconsider my desk job, change the course of my life, and start a brand based on pleasure from — and pleasure for — the garden. She made me wonder how I could plant my own seeds of hope, and I promised myself one day I would work for her. My team later volunteered our time to do some strategic and design work for her foundation. A few years later, Jane visited me here at Flamingo, and as always, saved the greatest kisses for my dogs, who look at her like the queen she is. As Jane reminds us, to plant a garden is to believe in the future, and I owe so much to her.
Favorite place to visit to spark inspiration?
A walk in the garden
Plant or flower that amazes you most?
I worship the Tomato. There’s nothing I love more than lingering on the porch of the goat shed in the Summer (a hidden gem at the Estate where apothecary jars line the walls), and soaking up the sun that bounces off the walls. Our vegetable garden is here — where Tomatoes hang heavy on the vine, their silky skin stretching to contain their sweet juice, their leafy vines reaching for the tops of the trellis. I love biting into a sun warmed Tomato and crushing the soft leaves in my hands. We captured this feeling with our Roma Heirloom Tomato Candle, which is our #1 scent and perhaps one of the products we’ve become most known for. The scent is intoxicating and incredibly transportive, and later this year we’ll be dropping an entire bath & body line to honor the Tomato.
One product that is always in your bag?
Our Skin Strength Salve goes wherever I go. It’s incredibly protective and nourishing, and it guards against the elements no matter the season, so it’s perfect for cracked hands from working in the garden, chapped lips in the winter, etc. It melts to the touch and smells so fresh. We blended it with Peppermint, Regenerative Hemp Oil, Calendula, Pomegranate Sterols, Illipe Butter, Kokum Butter, Squalane, and Copaiba Resin Oil.
Favorite space in your home?
The goat shed is one of my favorite spaces in the house. It’s a goat keepers cabin dating back to the 1930s and also our Apothecary — where jars of natural ingredients line the wooden walls. Since we began, it’s been the beating heart of our operation. We cut our first soaps here, and to this day, it’s still where we gather to play and learn, to experiment with new bath & body products and get inspired. It’s our sacred place of workshop — where ideas are constantly being conceived, such as our line of Garden Essentials and our Garden Bar Soaps. The bath house is also incredibly special to me. It’s where I get to unwind, run a hot bath, light a candle, test new products, and dream up new ones.
It’s hard to choose one – but your current favorite item from your collection at Shoppe..
Our Fridays from the Garden Cookbook will always be so special to me. We compiled years of recipes from our Friday farm box delivery letters. It’s truly a love letter on how Flamingo Estate began.
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