Our friend James Dashwood Chase is a born farmer with an instinct for a good homegrown product. He's branching out from his family's farming led businesses, Tyrrells Crisps, Willy's ACV and formerly Chase Vodka and Gin, to launch a new all-natural men's skincare range, BAZ & CO. He talks to us about his inspirations, his obsession with the king of herbs, basil and reasons for sowing his own good crop.

BAZ & CO was founded by James Dashwood Chase, of the Tyrrells Crisps and Chase Vodka & Gin family. He grew up on a farm in Herefordshire, into a family with a reputation for innovative, sustainable farming. So perhaps it was inevitable that James would find his own home-grown product to champion. There are a few distinct Chase family traits, one is towards pioneering farming techniques, the other to grow something from scratch whilst perfectly cornering a market. 

James’s grandfather acquired their relatively small farm-hold in Herefordshire after the second world war, an area known for its red, fertile soil and started farming. James’s father, William Chase inherited the farmland and, led by the fantastic soil, made the call to grow potatoes. Soon after he founded Tyrrells crisps to challenge the luxury crisp market. William is a pioneer in regenerative probiotic farming whose beliefs in traditional farming methods next led him to founder Chase Distillery, using up waste potato crop. His love of “the whole process from growing, to harvesting, pressing to fermenting, bottling and even designing the products” has kept him innovating. More recently he started Willy’s Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) using apples grown within the family’s 200 acres of old, organic apple orchards. Here again putting available homegrown produce to good, health benefiting use. All three of these brands have obviously done incredibly well, they all have the key ingredients of an honest back story, high quality grown and natural ingredients and a great marketing strategy. James, and his brother, who has taken on the family’s potato farming business, supplying Tyrrells and Chase, have no doubt been inspired by the avant-garde farming that has gone before them.

Back to James, the third-generation farmer in this home-grown story, and his crop of choice. James went straight from education to take up his place in the family’s drink business. He was the Head of Marketing/Global Ambassador for Chase Distillery- or as James describes his role, “a sort of Swiss Army Knife, fulfilling whichever role I was needed for”. This took him around the world and right to the heart of the food and drinks and entertainment industries. After the family decided to sell Chase a few years back, James was left to think, what next? In a sense BAZ & CO evolved from what his ancestors had created before him and has a similar ethos of creating an all-natural product which uses simple raw ingredients and absolutely nothing artificial. 

After trying and failing to find an effective men’s skincare range for himself which “didn’t use words in the description such as thunder or steel” he saw a gap in the market for an all-natural botanical men’s range. With farming literally flowing through his DNA James sort out the perfect ingredients and founded BAZ & CO in 2022. The brand is built upon a simple but poignant belief that the ingredients we choose to apply to our skin are as important as the ones we eat. BAZ & CO offer’s simple, natural nourishment for the skin with the hero ingredient, basil. 

With his family history of successful sustainable farming James knew that a thriving basil crop requires specific growing conditions. So, he partnered with the Jones Food Company, the UK’s leading experts in hydroponic vertical farming. They build and operate some of the largest vertical farms in the world and supply huge quantities of fresh, local food all year round. Vertical farming allows for the growing of fresh produce in a completely controlled internal environment. They grow in layers stacked from floor to ceiling, making it possible to grow much more produce, around one hundred times more per meter squared. The watering system they have designed and installed in their farms is completely unique. It allows them to re-use each litre of water up to thirty times over, meaning that their water usage is reduced by 90% compared to a conventional outdoor farm. JFCo specialise in growing herbs and leafy greens as well as strawberries, but it’s clear this kind of farming has huge potential beyond this. Because of the controlled environment of these farms there is no need for chemicals or pesticides, and they utilise renewable solar energy. Jones Food company have two farms in the UK, one in Scunthorpe and another just opened near Bristol which is where the basil for BAZ & CO is grown. 

So why the name BAZ & CO, why Basil? This ancient herb has been used for its many health benefits for centuries. We all know basil for its tasty and fragrant attributes, tearing it into many Mediterranean dishes, but its merits don’t end in the culinary. It’s believed it was first discovered by the ancient Greeks who knew a thing or two about treating and curing illnesses with natural ingredients. Homeopathy originates in Greece when Hippocrates first formulated the basics of his philosophy of treating ‘like with like’. It contains many important minerals, antioxidants and amino acids making it very hydrating. It also has natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which are very beneficial in keeping our skin healthy. Some of the Aubin team have been lucky enough to trial the products, and it’s widely agreed the products have a unique and refreshing fragrance too. Another one of the key ingredients they use in the formular for their facial exfoliator is the Chase family’s - Willy’s apple cider vinegar. This has been shown to reduce inflammation and redness on the skin, again an ingredient that has been used for its healthy attributes for many years. 

Once the raw ingredients and herbs are harvested, BAZ & CO extract essential natural oils through a traditional copper pot distillation. This is a traditional technique which dates back for centuries - back to the ancient Greeks again! They then use these naturally extracted concentrated oils, with their anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties in their skincare range which includes a three step, cleanser, exfoliator and moisturiser as well as a refreshing deodorant and body wash. These natural ingredients are blended together to make the BAZ & CO range locally in Bridport, Dorset; a homegrown British brand from start to finish. They promise never to use harmful chemicals, parabens, soap, detergents, sulphates or anything artificial at all that you skin wouldn’t benefit from.

With a glint in his eye James tells us of his plans for the future. He has designs to build his own vertical farm on land where he now lives with his wife Victoria Dashwood Chase in West Wycombe Park; Victoria’s ancestorial seat. Nestled in what was the estates productive walled kitchen garden, it’s the ideal spot for them to grow their own basil crop. They are currently working on an all-natural SPF 30 sun-cream and a bar of soap, handy for travelling with, as well as other innovative plans for using up surplice produce grown on vertical farms; James has plans for mint next!

Well, if the healthy glow around the Aubin office is anything to go BAZ & CO skincare seems to be working its magic. We just love to hear of forward-thinking stories like this, using up waste produce, turning nothing into something real and good and working hard to make simple, high-quality products; sound like a success story to us! We wish James and his team every success and hope to see more exciting innovation in his family’s farming future.

To follow BAZ & CO developments or to order products head to their website- or Instagram page @bazandcoskincare