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KOHI London

KOHI London

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Speaking to Romana, we learn about self-care advice derived from ancient Japanese culture, as KŌHĪ's founder talks about her travel experiences, her passion to help others reduce anxiety through natural remedies, and the importance of positive affirmations in her organic skincare brand

Words: Aleksandra Georgieva

Photography: KŌHĪ


03 June 2022

  • KOHI Instagram

KŌHĪ is an organic skincare brand that revolves around reviving ancient Japanese beauty secrets, positive affirmations and loving earth by using natural resources. This business inspired our team by the way a single woman's ambition to help others and create something positive can truly transcend into a successful business that values sustainability and self-care. We introduce you to Romana, the founder of KŌHĪ, whose lifelong travel memories and recent struggle with becoming homebound inspired the making of this unique skincare brand.

Romana is 3rd generation from Hong Kong, and growing up there as a child and teenager, she became fascinated by the way natural remedies were always the answer to skincare issues, alongside with the aesthetically pleasing product packaging from neighbouring Japan. Romana began experimenting with ingredients and amid the 2021 pandemic, KŌHĪ was born in her kitchen out of her love for implementing ancient Japanese skincare principles into self-care practices.

Handmade in London, the products are created to reduce waste by using only organic ingredients from fairtrade suppliers. Promoting mental health and self-care is at the core of the positive affirmations use that is the brand's main narrative. Romana started using positive affirmations in her night-time skincare routine and quickly realised the significant improvement this had on all aspects of her life.

‘‘KŌHĪ コーヒー has given me a second chance in life and I am so keen on helping others through my own experiences. I want KŌHĪ コーヒー to be the product people reach out for as if it's a hug to themselves.’’

Romana, founder of KŌHĪ 

Along with offering high quality products, the brand revives organic Japanese skincare techniques and elevates the attention to detail through authentic sustainable packaging. Despite Romana's success, she has had to overcome severe struggles to create her business. About 4 years ago, on her way back from Dubai, Romana went through trauma that resulted in several mental, emotional and physical challenges. After a lifetime of travelling, she had suddenly become agoraphobic (homebound). This was one of the darkest phases of her life but as a new mother to a one-year-old, she was determined to overcome her challenges.

When the world was in standstill due to Covid, Romana decided to turn her life around and regain her power. "I could relax knowing I am not being left behind in the fast-paced world that we live in." She committed to a night-time routine infused with positive affirmations through the use of her handmade face masks and body scrubs. "It was a miracle in my eyes. I went from being on a liquid diet due to my globus sensation and not being able to walk for more than 5 minutes to eating solids and walking my healthy 10k steps a day."

The idea that many people felt similar anxiety throughout the uncertain times of the pandemic made Romana extremely passionate about using her knowledge of ancient Japanese skincare techniques to help others. Today she makes small batch products with the intention of creating a real difference in the lifestyle of the end user.

Our team caught up with Romana about her go-to skincare routine for mental and physical glow; her best self-care advice derived from ancient Japanese culture; and her all-time favourite KŌHĪ product.


NOMADSofORIGIN: What is your go-to skincare routine that helps improve your mental health and physical glow?
Romana: I believe that skincare should be curated with clean ingredients and be simple. We must listen to what our skin really wants and commit to a two to three step routine so that it does not feel like a burden. I've committed myself to a soothing night-time routine where my skincare is deemed as my reward for working hard throughout the day. I steam my face with loose green tea and hot water for around 3 minutes and then gently exfoliate using KŌHĪ 's Rice & Oat Face Scrub which comes in powder form - this helps to remove any dead skin and deep cleanses my pores. The final step is to massage my face using KŌHĪ's Glow like Geisha face oil which has Rosehip, Vitamin A & E Oils to hydrate and plump my skin. I must add that I never do this as if I am on auto - pilot. Whilst doing this routine I will use positive affirmations such as my skin is beautiful, glowing and healthy. This little addition of affirmations attracts what you are telling your skin.

NOMADSofORIGIN: Which is your favourite KŌHĪ product?

Romana: My all-time favourite has to be the Matcha & Jasmine Body Oil. It truly brings out my inner zen. Matcha has great anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties which are essential for our body. We often focus a lot on our face but forget the skin on our body that equally needs that attention. When I was curating this oil, I wanted to remember the scents and aromas I encapsulated in my mind during my childhood vacation to Japan. The sweet, musky and floral scent is in layers and that is the beauty of this oil.

NOMADSofORIGIN: We are really inspired by your story and the fact that during one of the darkest times of your life, alongside becoming a new mum, you found the strength and ambition to create your own business that aims to help others. What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced along the way?
Thank you. It was indeed a dark phase. I created this business with the intention of helping others because the people that helped me through my time of uncertainty were the ones that had gone through this battle themselves and regained their power. This is the cycle of life, and we must turn our pain into power and utilize it to empower others. 


However, I certainly did go through challenges such as trying to regain my confidence. I went from being an independent woman who travelled and worked across the globe in big cities such as Hong Kong, Dubai, N.Y. & London to being completely homebound with an 18-month-old child. The gap was huge, and it was an unknown territory. 

I worked extremely hard on myself to ensure that my son remembers me as the strong and independent woman that I truly am. I made him my motivation and started to face my fears and I am lucky enough to overcome it. I feel blessed that I have amazing clients. To them it may just be another online order but to me they were giving me a second chance in life. 

NOMADSofORIGIN: All your skincare products are handmade in small batches to reduce waste. How do you incorporate ancient Japanese beauty secrets into every skincare product?

Romana: Yes, they are indeed made in small batches because during my phase of healing I have really started to appreciate what this wonderful earth does for us. The environmental factors affecting our lovely planet is one of the most talked about current affairs. A lot of my healing took place in nature and by doing the grounding technique. I want to do my little bit of safeguarding it. 


Ancient Japanese beauty secrets are the core of all my products. I take inspiration from the Geishas. Despite a thick white cast on their face - their skin underneath is flawless. It is truly taken care of using some of the ingredients I use in my products such as Rice Bran, Matcha, Camellia Oil or even Sea Salt in my Body Scrubs. 


The core understanding of ancient Japanese beauty is to have a positive mindset - this is what truly gives you that glow. Therefore, I use positive affirmations to infuse them into my products. Science also backs this up as it is proven to fire up your neural pathways and help you become more positive and happier.

NOMADSofORIGIN: What is the most important selfcare advice from Japanese culture and philosophy that you incorporate in your business and everyday life?
Being the 3rd Generation and spending my childhood in Hong Kong. I grew up with a heavy influence of the Far Eastern culture. One of the most enchanting memories I have is going to Japan and seeing that even the most low-priced item was being packed extremely beautifully. The art of Japanese packaging "tsutsumi" and "furoshiki" isn't just beautiful packaging but a translation of appreciation for the end user. All my products follow this philosophy. I use beautiful origami paper to wrap my products to make it a visually enchanting experience. This teaches us the importance of keeping our space beautiful - mentally and physically.   


One of the most important self-care rituals is "OFURO". This is a a very mindful ritual that involves in rewarding yourself after a long hard day by having a steam bath to unwind and heal. It involves in creating self-awareness in that moment. I have specifically created a product around this called the Japanese Bath Steam which is a botanical steam infused with salts, flowers and essential oils that all promote healing. 


We must also focus on our "Ikigai"- our real purpose of being and doing what truly brings us joy. I am fortune enough to have found my calling through my business and this is something that allows me to be present and serve a purpose to others.

NOMADSofORIGIN: Thank you so much for this interview! Is there anything else you would like to share?
I am grateful to have this opportunity to share my story. I would like to add that it is extremely important to invest in yourself. We are living in a fast-paced world where we can possibly be in a cycle of stress from different parts of our lives and without realising it - we believe we are managing just fine. It is important to constantly check your thoughts (turn the negative ones into positive), watch your emotional diet (social media, TV) and to love and nurture the inner child in you. Having a night-time routine, even if it is a 15 minute mindful shower or mediation makes a huge difference to your physical and mental health. Finally live in a state of gratitude - perception changes reality.

‘‘KŌHĪ コーヒー isn't just another skincare brand.’’

Romana, founder of KŌHĪ 



NOMADSofORIGIN is an independent annual publication with a focus on sustainable travelling and global cultural values. Each issue features interviews, engaging articles and photo guides, which take our nomadic readers through different destinations and introduce them to local people's perspectives.



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