Taymer Mason is a Barbadian trained microbiologist and food scientist. A self-described bookworm growing up she spent her days reading scientific books, writing poetry and painting. Taymer (pronounced Tay mar) describes herself as an artist at heart.
In 2010 the vegan chef wrote Caribbean Vegan which is being released as a second edition in November 2016.
Taymer was always obsessed with botany at a young age and believes that all plants have a purpose. In 2006 she started making products for her natural hair using Barbadian molasses, wild hibiscus flowers and forest made island oils.
This bilingual globe trotter spends her days writing cookbooks on veganism, marketing artisanal small businesses and creating new hair and skin products.
She hopes to launch a ‘clean’ natural hair and skin line by 2017.
CEM did a Q&A with the brilliant and multitalented entrepreneur to learn more about her latest ventures.
You are a Scientist, Vegan Chef, a natural hair and skin product developer and entrepreneur how did this all came about?
I did my undergrad in microbiology and ecology and I trained for many years as a food scientist. A food scientist is someone who monitors the process of product making and carries out test on finished goods. I worked for a company in Barbados that created fine food products. I designed products for the mass market in a test kitchen. I later worked in airline catering in HACCP management and later for public sector catering in France. I went vegan back in 2006 and after moving to France I felt disconnected from my local cuisine. In 2010 I got a book deal and penned Caribbean Vegan which was a tribute to my food culture and also the change in my diet to more compassionate eating. The beauty product development came out of me going natural back in 2006. I always had an interest in botany and creating my own blends. I had a little free time between a cookbook I was writing and I decided to write a full colored book outlining different natural hair recipes. I decided at 30 years old I did not want to go back to the traditional job setting and I started businesses and failed due to lack of proper planning. With my failures in tow and the lessons learnt freshly branded in my brain, I was able to start projects again that were more stable and profitable.
You are currently developing a skincare line, what can we expect?
I developed a natural hair and skin line two years ago. It will launch it in 2017. The products are developed by me from initial concept to final product. I spent years experimenting with formulations and putting it through challenge testing independently and in a laboratory. The active ingredients will be at the forefront of the product instead of being just one drop. The results from using the products will be instant and safe to use on children. The skin care line focusses on skin solutions with natural products that target acne, wrinkles, dry and oily skin.
You use a variety of interesting ingredients, where do you source them from?
I use ingredients that are found primarily in the Caribbean. I use fresh plants to make botanical water, I use a lot of Aloe vera plant and hibiscus. The other additives likes oils I would source from suppliers in the country of origin and try to get the freshest products because if you start with inferior products the final product will be inferior.
Your products are made of refreshing mixtures, such as Moringa, Papaya, Frangipani Oil, and Lemongrass. How do you come up with the mixtures for each product?
I hike a lot and I always had a love for plants. Over the years from reading and experimenting I know what plant is good for what skin or hair solution. For instance papaya is good for anti-breakage, moringa works well for strength, frangipani flowers have a beautiful fragrance that can be transferred to oils.
What are your favorite ingredients to use?
I love using fresh Aloe vera leaf juice to be a base in my hair products. While people may think aloes is a bit overdone it is not so. It just has not been done properly so the effect was always minimal. For skin care I love passion fruit oil for skin care because it absorbs well into and doesn’t leave the skin greasy.
When will the line be available and where can readers buy your product?
I am hoping for a holiday release or early 2017. The product will be available online and hopefully on Amazon.com in the early stages. To keep on top of the product follow me on Instagram @kinkalchemy or @therealcaribbeanvegan.
Tell us about your book Kink Alchemy?
Kink Alchemy is a book I self-published between books. I was waiting for my publishers to get back to me with my copy edits on my other book Caribbean Vegan. I spent two months creating easy to make handcrafted natural hair products that could be replicated by the novice. I always wanted to write a natural hair book with photos of the actual finished products. There are a few books out there like that but they did not have that appeal of completed products looking like commercial products. I was looking for a book like that so I wrote it myself.
What was the motivation behind the book?
I think that the Caribbean people have grown to consume media and information but creating it to the level that their voices are out there internationally is still very low. I think many of us were lucky to have higher education making us equipped with the tools to be game changers and creators. I want to set the stage and the pace for persons who want to let their voice be heard.
You also wrote book called Caribbean Vegan , how challenging was that for you to come up with recipes.
I do not think conceptualizing is difficult. I could write five cookbooks in a year if you gave me a live in assistant and the food. The challenge comes from executing, shooting photos and cleaning up. I had limited failures when writing recipe books and if I did I tried again until it was perfect. Books have deadlines and trying to execute four recipes a day, shoot photos and then still write is a challenge.
What’s your favorite recipe in the book?
I love the Rasta Pasta with Jerk Walnut Meatball. It is a beautiful recipe with a coconut curry sauce and the balls are made with a mixture of walnuts and mushrooms and spicy jerk seasoning. The bite of the meatball is tender and juicy and the pasta with the crisp peppers and flavorful curry sauce work well together.
Rasta Pasta with Jerk Walnut Meatball
When will the book be available and where?
The book is currently available for pre-order on Amazon and it will be released this fall.
What advice would you give to someone that wants to become a vegan?
A lot of people are going vegan to be thin or because it is in style at the moment. I am vegan because I am a compassionate eater and consumer and I do not see animals as food. If you want to go vegan go vegan for the right reasons as it deals with environmental awareness and ethical eating. Read blogs and start to make recipes at home. Do not be afraid to experiment with spices. Start with one meal in the day and build out from that. Surround yourself with positive people because many people are ignorant when it comes to veganism and may make discouraging remarks. This can set you back and you may abandon your journey. Avoid places that sell meat because you and coming off from being an omnivore so, hanging out at a fish fry may not be a good idea early in the game.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
I would like know that too (chuckles), well by the end of 2016 there should be four books with my name on it on Amazon. I would have launched my natural hair and skin line. I want to get into cooking shows so maybe I will be on your TV screen soon. I am young and free and the world is there for me to take on. I am ready to take new adventures.
See one of Taymer's recipe ....
Coco Aloe Deep Conditioner from Kink Alchemy by Taymer Mason
Approximate Yield 500 ml
This conditioner is going to change your hair’s life! Yes it is a bold statement but it is true. Do you know one of those Holy Grail products that everyone and their grandmother goes on about? This is it! If your hair is dull, dry and not styling well this will RESET you hair back to happier times. This makes my hair beautiful after one use so if it had to be sold it would be bad for business. I developed this formula a few years ago when my hair was very tight and dry and nothing would work, and the rest is history. I will just jump into this recipe and suggest this as a thoughtful holiday gift for your natural friends. Dress this up in a glass mason jar with beautiful ribbons and add the directions with a beautiful hand written card and BOOM, you have a friend for life! You are welcomed and your hair says thank you too.
What you will need
¼ cup honey/ agave nectar, 1 can coconut milk, ½ cup Aloe vera chopped, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon black castor oil, 1 tablespoon moringa oil options or any oil of your choice e.g. jojoba, 1 ½ tablespoon xanthan gum and a few drops of essential oil of your choice, preservative, optional.
Ingredients are blended into a smooth consistency.
Blend honey/ agave nectar, coconut milk, Aloe vera, coconut oil, olive oil, castor oil, optional moringa oil until white and smooth, add half of the xanthan gum and blend for 30 seconds. Check the consistency and if it is still too thin add in the remaining gum and blend until you have a creamy thick conditioner. Stir in essential oils and optional preservative.
Apply on washed hair or unwashed hair, it works just the same. Apply mixture to the scalp and hair and put on a plastic cap for 15 minutes. Leave on hair covered with a cap. Leave in for minimum one hour and maximum 12 hours (yes you can sleep in it). If you are in a rush you can cover your hair with a cap and sit under a hooded dryer for 20 minutes. Wash out and style as usual. This is an excellent detangling conditioner.
Switch up the scents for the season. Try peppermint essential oils for the holidays, lavender and sweet orange for late spring and lemongrass ginger for summer.