Ayesha Muttucumaru meets Kazu Namise, founder of Phylia de M. to learn about the science of hair loss
Inspired by the research and life’s work of her godfather Dr Dick Miyayama, Founder & CEO of Phylia de M. Kazu Namise set out to create a range of products that would not only help reverse the effects of hair loss, but also challenge the previously held beliefs about its causes.
The core of the brand’s ethos is simple, and refreshingly encouraging: hair is a reflection of one’s total body health and no one is doomed to any sort of physical fate.
With fans including the co-founder of Victoria Health Gill Sinclair (having described the brand’s Fulphyl nutritional supplement as “Possibly the single most profound supplement that has been released in the last decade”), the line has helped many who are battling hair loss and as a result, has garnered an global army of eternally grateful beauty devotees since launching in 2011. I met with Kazu to talk about the brand’s inspiration, her plans for the future and in true GTG style, also take the opportunity to ask about her beauty must-haves…
GTG: What was your motivation behind creating the brand?
KN: My godfather is the founding scientist and doctor who came up with the formula, the philosophy and the science. I’ve been using his formula and the products since I was 19. He and his wife, who is the CEO of their company and also my mentor, have a brand that I used to work for when I was at university and I was with them for seven years learning about the science. I then left for a few years in order to get experience in marketing and branding and PR, where I was able to meet a lot of people who oddly enough now freelance with me to bring my brand to life! I always knew I was going to return but I didn’t know quite in what form.
I decided that I also wanted to set up my own brand and so I asked them for their blessing and they said, “Yeah sure! Totally do it!” In the beginning, I just picked my favourites from his line - I wanted it to be very simple so I just chose my routine and the routine that all of my friends loved, packaged that and started from there.
GTG: It seems to have come at the perfect time as hair loss has become such a big issue for both men and women alike in recent years...
KN: Traditionally, it was more of a men’s issue but now that women are being introduced more and more into the career marketplace, are stomping through life and career, managing a home and not having as many opportunities to have creative outlets as they used to, I think all these new stressors are having a huge effect on women’s health. Hair growth is related to the body’s dysfunction and overall health, and we are therefore seeing more and more of it in women now.
GTG: How did you come up with the name?
KN: The products themselves are the philosophy, and the name is about my love for the philosophy and the science of my godfather, so the name Phylia is the ideas of love and philosophy rolled into one.
The “de M.” is very sentimental. My godmother signs her name first and then “de M.” which is shorthand for “Miyayama”, which is my godfather’s surname. So for me it says, this is from my family. She taught me so much of what I know as a businesswoman today and so it’s really sentimental for me.
GTG: Where are you from originally?
KN: I was born and raised in Los Angeles but my mother was Japanese and that’s really the side of my family that is culturally significant. The lens that I view life in is Japanese and my godparents are Japanese too, so it’s very important for me to see that as a part of my brand.
GTG: How would you say the combination of your godfather’s work on natural alternatives and medicine influences your wider lifestyle?
KN: It’s sort of relaxed me as he’s got a very integrative approach towards medicine. The way that my godfather approaches wellbeing, medicine and sickness is if you’re balancing your stresses and relaxations in your life, in general you’re going to be healthy both spiritually and physically. Find what’s right for you and just do it and be happy, he’s very simple about it. He’s like, if this is making you unhappy, stop. If this is making you feel sick, stop; which has helped me be really light about it all. So if a particular food makes me feel good when I eat it, then I’ll eat it. It’s made me be less restrictive and it’s helped me relax and enjoy my life.
GTG: How does the formulation in your hair care range work to ease the effects of hair loss?
KN: The combination of aloe, tannic and fulvic acid (our tri-factor), is our signature and it lives in everything that we make, it’s our proprietary blend. My godfather was able to determine that healthy hair grows because of the nerve that attaches to the follicle, which acts as the highway where blood transfers and keratin passes through. As they disconnect, the hair stops growing which is due to some kind of stress whether it’s environmental, emotional or logical. So my godfather said, “Well let’s just reconnect the nerve then!” and that’s where he developed his formula.
Our formula helps repair what your body already knew before we damaged it. Once you’ve fixed that damage, your body’s back in form so it’s able to do what it should be doing again. The formula repairs it and then it optimises it so your hair’s super shiny, super soft, there’s a lot more volume, you’re shedding less and you’re basically producing your best hair.
GTG: If you suffer from baldness due to genetics, does the range also address that?
KN: We don’t believe that balding is genetic. Our base science is that hair loss occurs because of stress and that you’re not physically doomed to a certain fate. However, you may be more likely to develop hair loss because you’ve lived in the same environment as your parents and are exposed to the same diet, water, air quality, probably the same house, so cleanliness and things like that are the same too. As their child, you’ve probably adopted a lot of their coping mechanisms too and manage or mismanage your stress very similarly which manifests in your body in the same way.
My godfather believes that body dysfunctions like disease, cancer or hair loss are behavioural reflections of mismanagement of stress. The good news of that approach is that you get to change the pattern and that even if you are more likely to suffer from hair loss because you’ve adopted your family’s habits, you can identify what those are and change them and have a fresh start.
GTG: What is your godfather’s background?
KN: He was a cancer surgeon. If you meet a surgeon, there’s a quality about them that’s incredibly refreshing because they come from a background where just one cell of bacteria can be the difference between life and death; they’re very severe but are also very truthful in the way that they look at things. Now though, he’s more of a naturalist, botanist and herbal pharmacologist. I call him nature’s master because I feel like the earth has beckoned him to heal it. He believes that nature has an answer to everything. You just need to ask the right questions.
GTG: Re-Connect sounds like a great addition to the range. How does it work and how would you recommend using it?
KN: When I started with the 3 Step Kit , £103, that was what I generally used and would recommend for anyone who is starting the Phylia de M. programme. The first step is to heal your skin, you want to detoxify your nerves, minimise your shedding and to secure and make the best of what you have, which is great for most people because most of us may just have excess shedding.
Over time, we decided we wanted to introduce Re-Connect , £60 because it’s a really potent, advanced formula and is super concentrated. It’s a variation on the ingredients in the formula which focuses its attention on active new growth. It’s for somebody who is experiencing a lot of thinning or just wants to give more life to their scalp and hair. We recommend using it only after using Connect and the other products for at least a month and then just alternating use. Over time, if you find that you really like Re-Connect you can just use that.
GTG: You’ve talked of the relationship between toxins in your body and how it is reflected in the condition of your scalp and hair. What would you recommend to help detoxify?
KN: I would recommend our nutritional supplement Fulphyl , £160. We say that you’ve got to heal from the outside in, which is where our hair care products come in, and from the inside out, which is Fulphyl.
It’s our custom fulvic acid which is in all of the other products too, but this provides a very powerful nutritional accompaniment. What we say is: for your best skin and hair, you want to drink a lot of water, get a lot of rest so you’re focused when you’re awake, eat a balanced diet and then take the right supplements to complement that. Our fulvic acid mobilises the right nutrients to the right place in your body and removes anything which is in excess and potentially harmful. It measures what you need that day so it’s always current and always active. Essentially it’s neutralising or balancing out your cell life which is what health is all about.
It’s a bit like colostrum (a mother’s first breast milk). We see fulvic acid as Mother Nature’s colostrum or transfer factor to all living things on earth. It gives us immune data and immune strength, the ability to fight things off and the ability to use what we have to get rid of it. And my godfather’s actually been able to create it. Not in a synthetic way, rather he just mimics nature’s process to yield a pure, natural, organic supplement that can clear out all the toxins and mobilise all of the good things.
GTG: If we were to look into your make-up bag, what would we find?
KN: My godfather also makes some skincare products which are very underground right now, so I use those. They’re nameless, unlabelled jars of our family’s creams! Dior makes a concealer that I really like called Skinflash Radiance Booster Pen in No.3 , £26.
I also use a Beauty Bible Lip Balm , £6 and a Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler, £20. I also use Maybelline Great Lash Mascara , £4.99. I don’t wear much, I may sometimes put on a bit of blush, but that’s about it. Sometimes in a gift bag I’ll get some glossy brands in which case I’ll use them, but I’m quite simple with make-up. I also drink a lot of water.
GTG: With your job, you must travel a lot. What are your in-flight beauty companions?
KN: First of all, I transfer my Fulphyl into a little 2oz spray bottle so I can spray it into my water in-flight. I always have Connect , £45, which I spritz onto my ends whenever they’re feeling a little dehydrated. I also carry my Beauty Bible Lip Balm with me and then I have our cream and my cashmere shawl and socks.
GTG: What’s next for the brand?
KN: We’re still very new so it’s really communicating my godfather’s philosophy and his science and sharing it slowly but very strongly. It’s important for people to find out about his scalp sense and how important it is that growing healthy hair is actually a big clue about how to improve their life and overall health.
I also make soaps which have our fulvic acid in them called Piggy Soap , £35. They’re gift soaps which are organic and vegan. They’re made with Virgin organic oils and butters and then I mix Fulphyl in them and make them into flowers.