United Kingdom native Mike Buckham is the face behind the Mike’s Recovery, a carefully crafted line of natural, restorative soaps and mineral bath soaks. If you’ve ever wondered about the incredibly fragrant hand soaps at Fergusons Downtown and PublicUs, meet the founder: massage therapist, lover of thoughtful self-care and natural healing along with his sweet dog, Deepack.
What inspired the making of Mike’s Recovery?
I’ve always been into taking baths. It was a kind of nurturing as a way of self care. It’s more common in the UK to do that than in the US. When I was working on The Strip as a massage therapist and working 10-hour days, I started experimenting heavily with aromatherapy oils and different types of salts to help with my body’s physical pain and being emotionally drained from working on people who may have been out all night the night before. Doing that started to take its toll emotionally on me and that’s when I really started looking at something that was natural and that could shift my perception of reality and help me.
How long have you been a massage therapist?
I’ve been a massage therapist for 20 years, which is a really long time in a career where 80 percent of massage therapists leave after two years. I feel that people in general sometimes lack self care – that’s my observation over the years – and so I’ve just learned this protocol that works for me. I don’t like taking anything that has side effects so I’ve worked out how much of each ingredient I would need in order to create a physiological change for each of the recovery blends. I literally sat in bathtubs for years with one single note of aromatherapy oil on my body until I felt that it would give a change, and that’s how I created the formulas.
That’s cool! Did you ever intend to sell them or was it primarily just for you?
It was totally for me. The first aromatherapy oil I tried, I think I was about 21. I went to a massage therapist in the UK because I was having severe anxiety and she suggested Ylang Ylang. I put it in the bath water and I sat in there. It was supposed to induce euphoria and a sense of wealth. It had all of these things it was supposed to do. And I was like, “I can’t feel shit. It smells nice but physiologically, like, there’s nothing!”
I’m very much a scientist like that. If you tell me something, I’m going to find out whether it works or not for myself. And so it took me actually about 15 years to really feel the physiological benefits of that one oil. I remember the first time I felt it. As I was getting into the bath water, this wave of euphoria just came over me and I’m like, “Oh my God, this is what it does! It’s taken f*cking 15 years!” It’s one of my favorite oils.
It’s really cool when I get to that point where it’s not just psychological, but it’s a physical thing. That’s why I created the blends. I would go to the store and I would buy stuff and it wouldn’t work. I have no judgment about what we can get in the U.S., it’s just the quality just wasn’t as good as the UK. [In the UK] if you say something has aromatherapy in it and it’s natural, it has to be that. It would be monitored for that and here, you can say aroma therapy and it can be a synthetic blend.
Do you source your oils then from the UK?
We source them globally. Rose grows really well in high altitude in Bulgaria, so we get the rose from there. Frankincense is from West Africa. Wherever they grow best, we source them from. My business partner is really good.
So I know Ferguson’s carries Mike’s Recovery, as well as PublicUs, are there other places in town that carry your products?
Not the soaps, not yet. We’re primarily a bath salt company – that was the intent for it, but my business partner is American and he was like, “we need a shower gel because people are not going to take baths.” I said, “but it’s about baths!” So we created something that’s good for us both. That’s when we came up with the soaps. I love PublicUs – I would go there when it first opened and their hand soap was sh*t, so I was there one day (and their bathrooms are so beautiful) and I was like, this needs our soap. So I literally bombed their bathroom. I put my soap in there. I made a formula and it’s what I felt would be good for them.
I meditate. And I as I create something, I work in a frequency of like, okay, what do I want to feel after? What do I want from this product? And that’s what I created for their bathrooms. There’s a male and female component and they’re meant to merge and make the whole. That was the intent behind creating that blend. I was like, can I just put this in your restroom to see if people like it? And then two hours later Kimo came to me like, oh my God, this amazing!
And for Ferguson’s, you are working with them to put different products in the hotel, right?
Yes, we are coming up with a custom blend that’s just for them that will be packaged and labeled for them as well.
Very cool, so are you working with them on the scents? And are you allowed to give us any clues?
Yeah! So we’re looking at something with grapefruit, a very light cedar, juniper berry. We need something more solid to anchor it in. If it’s too high, the frequencies will just evaporate very quickly so we need something to molecularly keep it in the air; I’m working on that.
Do you remember the first blend you ever made for your bath salts?
Yes! It was frankincense and clary sage. It reminds me of looking at my mother as a little boy on a summer’s day. She had a white dress on and it was a hazy room and was just purity. When I smell it, I’m like, oh my God, it’s my mom.
What are some of your favorite scents?
Clary, Ylang Ylang, Petitgrain – that one is really good for trauma related to sexual abuse. It is really healing. That’s in the Rest Blend because honestly, from working at Encore, I could be touching somebody that could have been assaulted the night before. You just don’t know what you’re working on sometimes, but I could feel it. That would really help my brain after that.
That is so interesting. Do you have a favorite book or podcast that inspires you to just think outside of the box and keep you creative?
I love spirituality. I love studying the self; I really enjoy Dr. Wayne Dyer. He kind of teaches spirituality for the average guy. You know, he just humanizes it. He was an author and he passed away about two years ago. I remember working at the spa at Canyon Ranch at the Venetian and my friend that was in the break room and she was like, “oh, I’m massaging Wayne Dyer.” And I was like, “WHAT!? I love him!” I was so excited. So as I went to pick my guest up, he was walking toward me and I must have been beaming like a Christmas tree – all lit up – and he looked at me and he was like, “you must be Michael.” I was like, “how do you know me?!” He’s like, “no, she told me that you really appreciate my work.” He was amazing.
Oh, and then my little dog, Deepack is my inspiration. His name means ‘light’ in Hindi and he inspired me because I had a pretty rough childhood and couldn’t feel very much as an adult, I had pretty destructive behaviors. But Deepack, I would hold him when he was a puppy and he would just let go. I was like, oh my God, this is love, this is love. He is my inspiration. You know he’s old and blind and deaf now, and he can barely stand to walk, he sleeps 20 hours but I love him. He’s a pure frequency. I feel frequencies. I think that’s how I create things as well. I’m an empath, so I perceive the world through frequency rather than through thinking, which can be, again, like I said, in a massage therapy world in Vegas – it can be a lot.
Ahh. I figured that because when you said you would pick up on their energy, I was thinking, he must be really intuitive that way.
I am very much so. I mean, I could tune in with my next guest or a guest three hours later. I would know what I’m getting, and then I would be like, ohh, this is coming. Okay. I would really bunker down and ground myself and really, really stay detached. Because I can pick up on somebody else’s stuff and they can almost become my reality. I can go unconscious really quickly to other people. It’s the curse of being sensitive.
And so you work with athletes now for the most part doing massage therapy?
Yeah, I quit my job at Wynn. I was working at Encore and my mom was dying in the UK.. I just couldn’t be in a dark room anymore, so I went to work at the gym. This five star, entitled world that I was living in, I just couldn’t deal with it. It was bullshit. And my boss (at the time), I was telling him about my trip to be with my mom who was passing and I could see he was just looking through me. I was standing so I just detached from him was like, “what’s going on, God? Like, show me like the truth.” And then he just looked at me, he’s like, “you need to trim your mustache. You need to tidy your facial hair up.” And in my head I was just like, I’m so f*cking done. That was it. Thanks!
So yeah, I messaged the owners of the gym where I work out and had traded with them for years. I was like, “Hey, do you mind if I give out business cards?” And they’re like, “well, we have a better idea. Why don’t you just work here?” It was a great. It was challenging though because working for a company like that (Encore) on The Strip that’s like, ‘you’re never going to get a job as good as this ever again,’ it becomes a belief! I was just this little sensitive massage therapist trying to go out into the world on my own with the perception and the belief that I had to work somewhere like that, and that’s so not true. I’ve proved it to myself. I keep my costs and my fees down so it’s accessible to everyone; I’d rather work with real people and see transformation in people as well. And that’s a beautiful thing. So working with athletes – it’s honed my skills a lot because you know, they can injure themselves during the workouts and be like, what do I do? It’s been really challenging and I love it. It’s been good fun.
What are you rooted in?
My spirit. That’s my driving force for everything. I moved to the US 20 years ago to be with my partner that I fell in love with while I was on vacation. I literally had to live here illegally for many years to be with him. But I’ve always, always followed my spirit. And it usually means that I have to go the opposite direction than everyone else. It’s interesting. It’s painful pushing against things like that. And you know, relationships don’t always stay, but I stay with me. I think that’s been the lesson.
How can people follow and find you?