Life’s twists and turns often lead us in interesting directions and down paths never conceived. This certainly was true for Tom Lingenbrink. Fresh out of college and embarking on a career with a Japanese steel company, little did Tom know that more than 30 years later he would be conceptualizing and designing high-end wooden bath brushes.
So how did a man with seemingly no artistic ability find his passion in designing and importing luxury bath brushes?
In the early 1980s, an embargo on steel imported to the United States found Tom’s employer pivoting to production and importation of alternative goods. After experimenting with toys and other small items, Tom happened on a catalog of wooden bath brushes returned from Japan by a colleague. And the rest, as they say, was history.
The designs lept off the page, and Tom instantly fell in love with the craftsmanship and artistry. Smooth, elegant pieces carved from single stalks of bamboo and beechwood embodied the minimalist Japanese design that Tom had come to appreciate. Through the years, Tom learned the importance of sourcing the proper materials for specific purposes and he played a critical role in the expansion of the collections offered.
Tom’s brushes were never your run-of-the-mill brushes. The collections Tom imported included a hand-carved Cypress wood brush housed in an elegant gift box wrapped in delicate rice paper - a brush that sold for hundreds of dollars. In their most recent beechwood collection, Baudelaire endeavored to emulate this level of artistry, captivating the buyers at the most exclusive boutiques and department stores in America. At this same time, the home spa market was shifting, introducing a new era in luxury self-care and a sweet spot for the introduction of these functional works of art.
Through the years, Tom’s passion for this traditional craftsmanship led him to start his own business. With the help of an illustrator, Tom was able to channel the art he knew and loved into his own designs, paying homage to the Japanese artists of the past that so inspired him.
Depending upon its specific purpose, as Tom’s brush design makes its way from page to product, the perfect wood is carefully chosen and cut from sustainably grown trees. In tandem, the animal product used in the bristles is sustainably sourced without harming the respective animals. Badgers or horses are gently shorn to provide different bristle densities. The need for wet versus dry brushes or body versus face brushes requires careful consideration of components and Tom endeavors to ensure that each part exceeds the quality expectations of his customers.
As with many of our artisans, this relationship has flourished for nearly two decades. Vis a vis a chance encounter in New York, Baudelaire has become one of the premier bath brush providers in the U.S. Today, Tom designs exclusively for Baudelaire, bringing almost thirty years of experience and passion to discerning customers just like you.