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.