Beautiful Things | With Fitra Founder Benyamin Merson

We're asking our friends to share some of their current fascinations and obsessions, and we thought it would only be appropriate to start with Fitra founder, Benyamin Merson. 

Father of six, bucket hat wearer, fragrance collector, and bad "dad joke" teller... we asked Ben to share a few things he's currently enamored by...

Ben

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La via del Profumo Mecca Balsam

Balsamo della Mecca (Mecca Balsam) Fragrance by La via del Profumo

Without hyperbole, this is the pinnacle of the art of perfume. 

While I'm largely wearing oud oils these days, I spent several years absolutely obsessing over and collecting perfumes, and this was by far the best I found (I'm definitely "that guy" when it comes to always smelling of fragrance, but my people assure me I smell nothing like those department store chemical bombs. I swear!). Inspired by a pilgrimage perfumer Abdes Salaam (Dominique Dubrana) made to the city of Mecca, this 100% natural scent is so perfectly evocative of the ambience of the idyllic Arabian city: tobacco from the hookah smoke of a nearby cafe, frankincense and oud smoke wafting from the mosque through the bazaar full of cloves and saffron, and the rose water with which guests are welcomed into the home. 

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YosemiteYosemite Valley

And the High Sierra in general.

I grew up, and still live, in Fresno, CA, just over 50 miles from Yosemite. My family has been taking me there since before my first memories of the place in the early '80s. For me, it's the most majestic, awe-inspiring, and beautiful place on earth. I was living on the East Coast for the last 8 years, and while I'd still visit my family (and Yosemite) every summer, coming home earlier this year has meant frequent trips into the Sierras, and I remain completely in love with it. It's a taste of something sacred. 

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Street Tacos

 Mexican Food

Top 20 reasons to live...

Homemade Mexican food just tastes like California to me. The key ingredients are all grown here, and our friends are always happy to share tips (from their Mamas and Abuelas) on how to properly roast chiles or make fresh salsa. I might also find it poetic that something so good only requires some fresh ingredients and a little bit of time. Metaphor for life?

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Khabib Nurmagomedov

 Khabib Nurmagomedov

Pretty much all about the hype on this one...

 As a teenager, I used to watch VHS tapes of Royce Gracie back in the early days of MMA, but I don't think I've ever watched a live fight. For the most part, the culture around the UFC just doesn't interest me, but I took notice of the build up to Khabib v. McGregor. For one,  their stylistic differences were always going to make it interesting, but primarily I tuned in to see how the shock campaign of racism and violence launched by the McGregor side (and backed by the UFC) was going to play out on the night. I was obviously not disappointed. Stoked for Khabib...

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Path & Present with Baraka Blue

Path & Present Podcast with Baraka Blue

Real...

 Baraka's got a depth of knowledge but a beautifully humble and simple way of expressing it. He talks to everyone from Yale PhDs, to Rap stars, to coffee experts, and it's just good, positive vibes. Check it out.

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Sashiko denim

Visible Repair

The beauty and the message.

 Almost 10 years ago, I picked up my first pair of Tellason raw denim. It was the most money I'd ever spent on a piece of clothing, but the promise I made to myself was that they were going to "last forever." Of course, life happens, and no matter how well-constructed, knees rip and fabric gives out. So I set out to find a way to repair them and discovered the Japanese traditions of boro patchwork and sashiko stitching. Not only was it a practical answer to a very real need (something I could do myself for very little money), but something about it struck me as profoundly beautiful. I've since gotten into all forms of visible repair, as I think it's important to support alternatives to our throw away, fast fashion culture, and those solutions will  only have a chance if they're dope.

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Port of Mokha Coffee

The best in the world...

I've loved coffee for a lot of years now, but I'm obsessed with this story at the moment. Not only is this probably the best tasting coffee on the planet, but it's also a deeply moving journey. This Yemeni kid (Mokhtar) from San Francisco has worked alongside the beautiful people of his ancestral homeland to reinvigorate their ancient coffee tradition (probably the first true coffee culture in the world). He traveled to Yemen, hiked through the mountains, heard stories of his ancestors, measured rainfall, and observed farming practices. He came back with some of the most revered coffee ever. Beautiful.

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