Articles > Events > Paul Mitchell’s Awapuhi Farm: Understanding The Brand’s Cultural Roots
Last updated: February 07, 2019

Paul Mitchell’s Awapuhi Farm: Understanding The Brand’s Cultural Roots

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The John Paul Mitchell Systems Awapuhi Farm, A Hawaiian Love Story
Awapuhi ginger, also nicknamed “shampoo ginger,” is not only the key ingredient in Paul Mitchell’s Wild Ginger haircare products—it’s the beginning of a story. The tropical plant’s rosy flower bud, hugged by leafy stems, has become a symbol of the brand’s cultural roots and an expression of sustainability and natural beauty.


A few miles off the grid and away from the coast of Hilo, Hawaii, BTC and other Hawaii Seminar 2019 attendees were greeted by the iconic “Awapuhi Farm” sign. Here’s what we discovered in our time together on the farm. Follow the story, click through the photos and watch the video tour with Robert Cromeans below.


The History: Hawaii’s Magic Flower
The story goes like this: In the early 1980s, Paul Mitchella gifted, Scottish-American hairdresser—and his friend Harry McDonald discovered local Hawaiian women washing their hair with flower bulbs, squeezing the juice directly from the ginger plants. Paul discovered the flowers (and later, the roots) of this plant, awapuhi ginger, had properties needed to wash, condition and hydrate hair. So, in 1983, Paul Mitchell and entrepreneur John Paul DeJoria established a self-sustaining, solar-powered farm to produce awapuhi ginger and John Paul Mitchell Systems began.


There’s island magic in the air as an intimate group of Paul Mitchell stylists and staff are led up to a vegetarian farm-grown spread, a panoramic forest view and welcomed by live Hawaiian music and friendly faces. Harry McDonald and his wife Sandy, and now his children, have been managing and running the farm since its conception. Harry tells us this as he leads a small group around the fruitful yet honest farm and walks us through the process of growing, harvesting and producing awapuhi ginger.


Paul Mitchell and the awapuhi ginger bulbs.


The Process: Awapuhi Ginger
At the farm, there is spirit in the process and production relies as much on nature as it does on its caretakers. The roots are grown organically, harvested and rinsed with water. Then, they are brought to the solar-powered dehydration shed and ground into rice-sized pieces. In the shed, these smaller pieces are placed into racks and dry in the sun for three to four days. After, the roots are ground into fine powder and sent to Santa Clarita for production. Today, all of the ginger is still produced onsite. 


This entire organic process embodies the brand’s values and the farm itself remains a retreat to Paul Mitchell artists who travel to experience its energy. “This couldn’t be a better example of what Paul Mitchell is about,” shares Robert Cromeans. “This is the spirit of the company. Awapuhi is not a theme or a concept we put in copy—it’s something we grow here in Hawaii discovered by our founder, Paul Mitchell.”


Awapuhi ginger is ground into fine powder before beings shipped to Santa Clarita for production.


The Brand: Beyond The Farm
Paul Mitchell and John Paul DeJoria both have homes on the property where they have spent time over the years living off the land, bringing their dreams to fruition and retreating with friends and family. Paul’s legacy continues to be celebrated and honored at his memorial on the farm, alongside other family members who also rest there.


Watch the video below and click through the photo slideshows to experience some of the magic, history and a glimpse into life at the Awapuhi Farm.


Paul Mitchell's memorial site at the Awapuhi Farm.


Watch: Tour The Awapuhi Farm with BTC & Robert Cromeans Below

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