Flamingo Estate, California. Image: Supplied.

Flamingo Estate is a lot of things. A former haven for tactile pleasures, an urban farm, a laboratory for organic skincare that replenishes both body and planet, location for magazine shoots and even an impromptu restaurant for one night only thanks to a welcome mistake by Chrissy Teigan.

But for current owner, former advertising guru Richard Christiansen, the sprawling acreage in the foothills of Los Angeles is first and foremost a home. One that just happens to be ground zero for his empire of organic products that includes vegetables, honey, to rosé, candles and body washes but remains true to its original purpose – pleasure. Only this time, it’s of the garden variety. Literally.

Richard Christiansen. Image: Supplied

“Flamingo Estate is my home. And it accidentally became a brand,” explains Christiansen.

“The original house was built in 1938 hidden behind a lush garden up on the top of a hill, overlooking Los Angeles. It became a prolific porn studio for 65 years, mainly because it was so private – a hedonistic playground for Hollywood. Tens of thousands of people have had sex in my kitchen.”

If you think this an odd boast for a brand that deals in something as wholesome as organic vegetable boxes then you’ve clearly never seen a Flamingo Estate catalogue and its infamously raunchy campaigns. At Flamingo Estate, pleasure, flesh and food go hand in hand and Christiansen has a simple philosophy that seamlessly connects the two.

“Putting yourself first is a radical act,” says Christiansen. “We are not programmed to think that way. So at it’s core, Flamingo Estate is about your own pleasure – a hot bath or the taste of the best olive oil. These things are not in themselves radical.”

The current incarnation of Flamingo Estate began around the start of the pandemic when Christiansen, who grew up on a farm in northern New South Wales, started working with local growers stay in business during lockdown by helping them find buyers for their produce. As work at his agency began to slow down, the 45-year-old also began to focus on the output happening at home. He had already begun experimenting with home-made soaps sourcing ingredients from his backyard – sage, to begin, with some cannabis – after noticing his garden was struggling.

Soaps that cleanse the body and nourish the garden. Image: Supplied

“The critical thing about [the estate] is that the water from my bath runs directly into the garden,” explains Christiansen. “So when I first moved here, I noticed my roses were all dying. I soon realised it was because of the chemicals in the body wash and soap I was using.”

The impact of swapping out commercial products for his own handmade ones was almost immediate – the garden began to flourish. Using the state of his roses as a litmus test, Christiansen began to look at the kinds of products he was not just putting on to his body, but back into the planet.

“I asked myself ‘why would I put this on my skin if I can’t put this on my plants?’ And that opened the floodgates – in my kitchen and my bathroom.”

Today, Flamingo Estate is a gateway into a more circular, holistic lifestyle where looking after ourselves on multiple levels is the primary goal. A Bacchanalian form of self-care, if you will. Castile soap body washes and soaps and essential oils that smell deliciously earthy; candles that have the herbaceous freshness of tomato and of course the infamous vegetable boxes sourced from local organic farmers, Christiansen has opened the world to his private garden of delights.

Demand has meant that Flamingo Estate has grown to over 75 farms and products are no longer made on site but now in a factory in Los Angeles. But the code behind their creation remains the same: only the purest, the most nourishing are sourced.

“Every ingredient is considered from a skin health perspective,” says Christiansen. “We use Grapeseed Oil because of its high levels of Linoleic Acid. Our formulas work in harmony with your skin and what it needs for natural optimal function. We look at each ingredient and their persistence in the environment to ensure everything we make is biodegradable to help protect our soil and our watersheds.”

While Flamingo Estate’s range of body products are stocked at Mecca, there’s no plans to launch the vegetable boxes in Australia. For good reasons, though explains Christiansen.

“Australia doesn’t need it. The general quality of food in Australia is much better than America. We had an opportunity in Los Angeles because the small regenerative farmers really had something rare and special – and we could scale their businesses by working with them.”


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