Interview with founder of the One World Well Foundation and CEO & Chief formulation officer of Haia and OM4 Organic Male
Mike Bruggeman is the founder of the One World Well Foundation and CEO & Chief formulation officer of haia (HAPPY AS I AM) and OM4 Organic Male (OM4Men).
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind starting haia (HAPPY AS I AM) and OM4 Organic Male (OM4Men)? What motivated you to create these two consumer products brands with a focus on wellbeing?
The brands OM4 Organic Male and haia (HAPPY AS I AM) both emerged from identifying unmet needs. With over 25 years in hospital administration, I switched careers in 2001 by acquiring a boutique Inn, which later included a day spa. The quest for spa product lines exposed a significant market gap – a lack of men’s skincare products. After an exhaustive search, only a handful of European brands met the criteria for professional spa treatments and had a history of success. In the initial five years, facials were primarily sought after by women, with men representing less than 10% of skincare services.
Working in the spa industry and involvement with ISPA revealed the industry’s lack of understanding of men’s unique preferences and sensibilities. Marketing, web content, advertising, spa menus, and more were primarily tailored to a female audience. The spa industry needed a male perspective, which led to the creation of OM4 Organic Male. This comprehensive professional brand addresses the specific skin types, conditions, and unique sensibilities of men, down to preferred packaging shapes that are ergonomic to a man’s hands
A similar inspiration sparked the creation of haia (HAPPY AS I AM) when I chaired the Global Wellness Institute’s Beauty Meets Wellness initiative. I vividly recall a dinner conversation after a long day at ISPA, where I shared my feelings and thoughts with the team. It was during this conversation that the name “haya (HAPPY AS YOU ARE)” was suggested by COO Patrick Carter. The team embraced the name enthusiastically. Approximately a year later, as I delved into the research and development phase of the project, I decided to test the waters by sampling to media professionals.
During one meeting in the picturesque town of Hitchin with industry luminaries Astrid Ros, Liz Terry, and Jane Kitchen, the suggestion was made that the name “haia (HAPPY AS I AM)” might actually resonate more with consumers. When I heard it, I immediately envisioned how the brand messaging would unfold. I have always advocated for “I AM” statements as a means of clarifying personal aspirations and intentions. The brand messaging is built around “I AM” statements, and each product in the line carries its own mantra.
Bringing these two brands to life required a collaborative effort.
What does ‘Wellbeing’ mean to you personally and how do you incorporate it into your everyday life?
I was fortunate to earn my undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, which is also the home of the National Wellness Institute. During that time, I had the privilege of serving as a residence hall counselor and collaborating with esteemed faculty members and Institute founders, Bill Hettler, MD, CWP, Director of Counselling Services, and Dennis Elsenrath, EdD, CWP, Director of Health Services. Dr. Hettler was a trailblazer in the wellness industry, developing one of the earliest multi-dimensional models and associated instruments to assess individual wellness within any organization.
Wellness in the 70s and 80s focused on physical fitness and nutrition. Over time, the definition expanded to include social connections, intellectual stimulation, and emotional intelligence. This shift shaped my approach to organizational design in healthcare, hospitality, spa, and consumer products.
Today, I continue to embrace a holistic perspective on wellness, endeavoring to harmonize multidimensional wellness in my life. I prefer the term “harmonize” because achieving balance can often feel like an elusive pursuit, akin to a never-ending hamster wheel of “I should do this.” In reality, that approach rarely works. There is no strict “balance” between wellness dimensions or personal and professional life, as aptly put by my dear friend and One Well World Advisory Board colleague, Doris Day, MD: “It’s all life.”
My personal practises include:
- Morning Ritual: I begin each day at 5:00 AM with 20 minutes of meditation, journaling, and setting my intention. This practice helps me focus and set the tone for the day.
- Nutrition: I prioritize fresh, local, and minimally processed foods, with occasional indulgences seen as part of the harmonization process.
- Physical Activity: I engage in outdoor activities like hiking and biking, along with strength training for healthy aging.
- Cultural Engagement: I actively pursue cultural activities to stimulate personal growth.
- Social Balance: I manage my social interactions, balancing personal time with social engagements.
- Emotional Wellbeing: I work on choosing positive emotions, gratitude and finding awe in life to foster personal and professional growth.
- Professional Commitment: I am deeply engaged in my work, creating a positive impact through individual support and collaboration with the One Well World Foundation.
Your brands try and incorporate mindfulness and self-care practices into the product offering – why do you think it is important for wellbeing brands to take a holistic view of skin and body care?
In an evolving world of wellness, beauty brands are realizing the need to support consumers on a deeper level, going beyond product marketing and sales.
I vividly recall a spa event in 2011 where the audience was challenged to share their mission statements centered on “Discovering Your Why.” Many sounded alike, emphasizing quality, excellence, and customer satisfaction. When I presented the OM4 Organic Male mission statement, it was met with applause, reinforcing my deep-seated belief in the importance of skin health and wellness, bridging the gap between looking and feeling good.
Our products serve as vehicles to inspire confidence, self-esteem, and lasting skin health. Looking good is tied to feeling good, with our primary goal being to foster self-acceptance and self-worth.
With the haia brand, we take this a step further by embedding mantras like “I am…” on each product. These positive affirmations are a powerful reminder that it’s about being confident, beautiful, important, and inspiring, not just striving to become. The precise wording of these mantras, akin to my morning focus statement, is vital for personal integration.
When customers encounter our brand messaging and these mantras, they immediately connect with the purpose and passion behind both OM4 Organic Male and haia.
You put a huge importance on natural and organic ingredients, could you share some insights into what goes into the formulation process and how you select the ingredients?
I devote significant time to analyzing trends and market data to uncover untapped niches. My inclination has always been to chart my own path rather than follow the crowd. This is why I ventured into the realms of men’s skin wellness and inclusive beauty, given the shortage of professional players in these market segments. My upbringing on a Wisconsin organic dairy farm has instilled many life lessons all of which are about understanding the profound connection of all things and work in life to the land, where ingredients are cultivated and processed. I embrace a biophilic approach, selecting ingredients from diverse ecosystems such as deserts, coastal environments, forests, and tundra. Each area offers specific solutions for various skin types and concerns.
For instance, desert and Australian botanicals are ideal for addressing dry skin, while North American boreal forests are rich sources of polyphenols and antioxidants, supporting age-deferral and cellular health. Harmonizing with nature’s rhythm simplifies life, reducing struggles, surprises, and disruptions from erratic weather or natural disasters. The seasons provide a natural context for any work I do. When an idea is formed it is planted, then there is the nurturing and cultivation of the idea, always keeping an eye out for impending changes in weather, then the harvest after the hard work and long days of summer, and finally taking sufficient time to rest or “winter” before taking on yet another project.
Once ingredient profiles are established, the next step involves assessing delivery systems, considering the needs of different skin types, ages, and conditions. We meticulously examine sensory attributes and personalization requirements for the target market. Crafting essential oil fragrances that align with ayurvedic and aromatherapy objectives enhances the wellness experience beyond product application.
The brand’s identity and vitality emerge from thousands of micro-decisions, each contributing to a holistic skincare approach that’s distinct and rooted in nature.
Sustainability is increasingly important in everything we do, what do you think are the most important steps for well-being brands to take to minimize their environmental impact and promote a healthier planet?
First keep abreast of every packaging material development. We must all be focused on getting rid of single-use plastics. In the case of haia, we decided to adopt the European organic standard, COSMOS. The reason we chose COSMOS was because of the comprehensiveness of the standard and the significant focus on sustainability. The COSMOS-standard is guided by four core principles:
- Promoting the use of products from organic agriculture and respecting biodiversity.
- Using natural resources responsibly and respecting the environment.
- Using processing and manufacturing that are clean and respectful of human health and the environment.
- Integrating and developing the concept of green chemistry.
Because of this 360-degree approach to verifying and certifying the entire supply chain and beauty ecosystem, natural and organic consumers can be assured they are selecting the very best from the sea of beauty choices available, down to the ball bearing in the pump and other packaging components.
In 2021 you founded the One Well World foundation; can you tell us more about what their mission is and your work on the advisory board with them?
The One Well World Foundation represents some of the most important work I do. The haia brand was actually the driving force behind its inception, a response to the profound health and societal challenges afflicting our world today. One Well World is a 501(c)3 nonprofit charitable foundation with a mission to foster global well-being through local action. We achieve this by:
- Initiating targeted action projects designed to make a significant impact on local and regional health and wellness outcomes.
- Collaborating with kindred charitable partners in their important endeavors.
- Nurturing Well Leaders by equipping them with the knowledge and skills necessary to internalize authentic presence and the ability to establish enlightened workplaces.
Some concerning statistics highlight the urgency of our mission:
- A 2019 survey conducted by Cigna Health revealed that 61% of Americans reported feelings of loneliness before the onset of the pandemic
- According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death; one life is lost to suicide every 11 seconds.
- Cyberbullying has become alarmingly prevalent among teens and young adults, with reported cases being 47.7% in the 6-10 age group, 56.4% in the 11-13 age group, 59.9% in the 14-18 age group, and 54.3% in the 19-plus age group.
In truth, the next global pandemic may not manifest as another rogue virus but rather as a worldwide crisis of mental wellbeing. The new landscape of public health extends beyond concerns of antibiotic-resistant microbes, diabetes, and obesity. It encompasses issues like circadian clock and sleep disruption due to blue light exposure, pervasive anxiety, chronic stress, loneliness, isolation, domestic violence, bullying, political unrest, intolerance, racial cruelty, addiction, and suicide. These are the pressing social and public health challenges of our time.
To ensure our efforts are impactful, the foundation is concentrating on several key areas and supporting like-minded charitable causes that are already making substantial strides in addressing some of the aforementioned issues.
Can you tell us what are some of the most impactful projects or initiatives that the One Well World Foundation has undertaken so far to address global challenges around wellbeing?
Two projects in which I take great pride are our support for like-minded charities by allowing our current customers to donate their rewards points, which are then converted into dollars earmarked for the following charitable organizations:
- The Nature Conservancy
- Prevent Child Abuse America
- The Trevor Project
- National Repertory Orchestra
- Skin Cancer Foundation
- Action Against Hunger
Furthermore, I’m deeply invested in a personal passion project, the Well Leader Lab™. Currently, we are in the process of developing an instrument that can be utilized by organizations interested in assessing the extent to which their employee wellness initiatives lead to what I call, “organizational wellness.” Foundation advisers firmly believe this alignment is of critical importance if businesses and organizations are to successfully attract and retain talent in today’s fiercely competitive employment market.
Our objective is to offer consulting services and leadership development experiences to organizations that aspire to create what we term, “Enlightened Workplaces.” This unique endeavor takes place in natural settings, harnessing the power of outdoor learning to cultivate the requisite skill set. At One Well World, we firmly believe that organizations have the right size and complexity to address crucial health, wellness, and societal challenges of our day on a local and regional scale. The era of aspiring to influence global change is no longer feasible. It’s time to narrow our focus and effect real change where it matters most.