Just as a chance encounter with a geisha inspired me to create TATCHA, another chance encounter helped bring to life one of Japan’s most beloved rituals. In Paris for a conference, I rushed to take a seat just as the presentation began. The woman next to me was Elizabeth Rose, a jewelry designer from New York. She was fascinated to learn that geisha had used jade and gemstone massagers to boost circulation, achieving a healthy, natural glow.

I sensed right then that she would be the perfect person to help us create a special tool that could help modern women achieve these same benefits. To my surprise and delight, she was just as excited about the project as I was, and we collaborated on the Akari Massager, made of crystal with gold flakes suspended inside. When beauty editors wrote about its almost “magical” ability to achieve complexion perfection, it quickly sold out.

When we set out to create more, we wanted to make it even more effective and luxurious. Gold-leafing was the natural choice. Like its predecessor, this massager is based on the acupressure tools used for centuries; it is slightly longer and features a thermal core that can retain heat or cold for maximum benefit. The massager boosts circulation and stimulates muscles, resulting in a facelift-like effect that improves skin’s tone and texture—especially when used daily. The tool is also the secret behind the glow imparted in our signature facial treatments. I asked Elizabeth Rose to share some of her secrets with us during a recent visit to our San Francisco headquarters.

V: We named the massager “Akari” after the word for light in Japanese because of its ability to impart that healthy, lit-from-within look. How did you go about creating a piece that could achieve that and still be simple enough for anyone to use at home?

ER: The creative process began several years ago when we focused on the beauty nature has provided to us. We measured the proportions of the face: the contours of a cheek bone, the elasticity of skin, the shape and size of a brow, the width of a palm and the length of each finger. We explored the raw feel of hot and then cold. We scrutinized each response to achieve greater purity in design and heighten the climax of relaxation.

The Akari balances science and nature, form and function. We formed the core for its ability to retain thermal energy and shaped it as a natural extension of the hand. It transforms a traditional Japanese beauty ritual and updates it for the modern woman.

We have created a beauty tool that feels so good, so natural, so pure, that it stops being a tool, and becomes a natural extension of your daily beauty ritual.

V: What does "beautiful" mean to you?

ER: Beauty to me is what many see as their imperfections. It is what makes us the perfectly imperfect version of ourselves—the offset dimple, wildly curly hair or slightly crooked tooth making your smile one of a kind. I love to embrace these nuances, as they are our signatures of uniqueness. The fact that no two people can be the same is beautifully perfect to me. This is also what makes me fall in love with jewelry: one person may see a flaw in a stone, where I see a beautiful characteristic that makes it stand out from the rest.

V: How does your lifestyle influence your beauty rituals and can you share any beauty secrets with us?

ER: My beauty secret is laughter (there can never be enough)—and of course Vicky Tsai! The laugh lines created on my adventures are remedied each morning with the magic that is Tatcha.

V: What did you first think when you heard about the line and its connection to the geisha?

ER: The grace, beauty and elegance of a geisha is incredibly romantic to me. Hearing about the 200-year-old beauty book that inspired the TATCHA collection was a magical moment. I think today we get caught in what's hot and new and end up overcomplicating our lives. The pure simplicity of Tatcha and the geisha gets us back to what we really need: simple elegant beauty. When you see these geisha’s skin at 80 years old, you can't help but stop dead in your tracks and say 'Tell me what to do, I want your skin.’

V: What was your skincare routine/ritual before you became familiar with the brand? Has it changed since you started using the products?

ER: I used everything and anything that promised to remedy my eczema. Nothing worked. That fateful meeting with Vicky in Paris was the beginning of a love affair with Tatcha and my skin. Vicky first introduced me to the blotting papers—she made me use them while sitting down for sushi in the middle of a restaurant!

From there she sent me the new products as they evolved and I tried each and every one of them until I had a complete Tatcha beauty ritual. My

“can't live without” pieces are gentle enzyme powder, radiant brightening serum, revitalizing eye cream and enriching renewal cream. The dewy mist is magical is my must-have item for travel. The face mask combined with the Akari massager keeps my skin glowing. Oh, and don’t forget the Camellia Oil—I can’t live without that goodness.

V: How often do you use the massager?

ER: I keep one Akari massager in the bathroom, one in my freezer and one is always in my travel kit. I use the one from the freezer every morning. If there may have been one too many adult beverages the night before and you're feeling a little hangover puffiness, this is my go to cure (Sorry, mom!). The one in the bathroom at room temperature is for evening use when I put on my nightly moisturizer. I travel a fair amount and changing time zones frequently does not always make you look your best, so the cold Akari in the morning helps me hide my travel-worn look that no one should witness, ever.

V: What is your favorite piece of jewelry?

ER: It would have to be a pair of 70's gypsy style chandelier earrings that my mom owned when she was my age. They never hesitate to bring the funk when I need them to and you absolutely cannot put a price tag on memories.

V: What's next for you? What are you working on now?

ER: There are a lot of exciting projects in the pipeline at the moment. I have partnered with VF Joyner to launch a lightweight platinum bridal line that Nina Garcia has endorsed a piece of for 2015. A recent new adventure has been creating custom home fixtures, pulling on my love of all things unique and old-world. I’ve also been asked to create trophies for a big-wave surf competition. There is never a dull moment for this creative. And, of course, continuing with my roots where everything started—consulting and creating jewelry privately for my clients to fall in love with. 

Victoria Tsai
Chief Treasure Hunter

published October 2014

Design, Beauty Secrets, Geisha, Interviews
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Photo 1: Jewelry designer Elizabeth Rose in San Francisco for a meeting about creating an updated version of Tatcha's Akari massager. Photo by Thor Swift.

Photo 2: Sketches from the design process of the AKARI massager.

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