Welcome to our Spotlight, Alexandra. You have the unusual experience of growing up in the beautiful Hawaiian Islands. I'm sure that it had some influence on your love of nature. Please share with us your experience of growing up there, and the role that it played in your business.
As a child growing up on the shores of Hawaii, I spent many delightful hours hosting flower feasts with my friends, real and imaginary. Our home was flanked by Sea Heliotrope trees that lent themselves as spatial palaces, linked by intertwining branches and a few boards my father had put up. Beyond the tree forts, a bed of wild Woodrose vines stretched to the sandy beach and turquoise sea.
The preparations for these feasts were adventures that took me down the beach and into jungles of overgrowth. I collected the flowers that dreams are made of: Honeysuckle with its sweet stamens were my favorite treat. Red Hibiscus flowers became petal salad, with plump purple Sea Grapes served on the round flat leaves of the Sea Grape tree. The creamy whites of Jasmine, Gardenias, Wax flowers, Plumerias, and Stephanotis (the traditional wedding flower) festooned the leafy roof. Our tea, oftentimes Kool-aid, was sipped from giant Cup of Golds, a plant with narcotic properties which probably added to our reverie.
There are a few memories of flower play that are not as pleasant, such as learning about the poisonous milk of the Plumeria tree. Although it was a lesson on flower power well learned, it was not a fun trip to the Doctors' office with threats of having my stomach pumped.
That experience pales however next to the faux pas executed while learning about the plants in Minnesota. A crunch on a young Jack in the Pulpit bulb released a mouthful of oxalic acid which felt like hundreds of miniature pins in my tongue for hours afterward.
Such memories, both fond and otherwise, draw a history of my involvement with the plant kingdom, one which has led me along a beguilingly scented path. I have learned that there are many levels on which the the flower essences work. It is my wish that flowers and their essences continue to help people discover their own unique rhythm with Nature, and through that relationship, to act with compassion and appreciation for all of life.
You are a licensed aesthetician, which brings a lot of hands-on experience with skincare. Please tell us what you learned through your experience, and how it has helped you to create your line of all-natural beauty products.
I began formulating with an herbalist's knowledge and an alchemist's dreams. My interest wasn't in applying products on peoples skin but in educating people how to improve their own skin and offering formulations that were 100% natural. My philosophy that we are what our skin 'eats' so therefore let's feed it wisely is what motivated my writing the book. I saw the need for more educated choices in skin care consumption. I had done a lot of research into plants that nourish the skin, so I distilled that information into a' how to' guide. It was during this time that I got my aestheticians license. Gaining a greater understanding of the techniques and anatomy involved in facials inspired my formulating, and I completed my skin are line with the essential oil Elixirs and the treatment masks.
Tell us about your products, and what makes them unique.
My product line is based on my belief that caring for the skin with pure plant oils is a direct connection with Nature. The products work in harmony with the skin, supporting and enhancing its natural functions. Each formulation relies on essential oils among its most active ingredients. In addition to their rejuvenating qualities, essential oils scent, preserve and color my products. My natural preservation system is based on ancient Egyptian formulating where plants with strong anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties were used in cosmetic preparations and sacred embalming practices.
What advice would you give to someone that is just getting interested in using all-natural beauty products?
Buy a copy of a product ingredient glossary and educate yourself on the ingredients used in skin care. I refer to Ruth Winters' consumer's Dictionary of cosmetic Ingredients. It has remained the standard of ingredient glossaries since 1989.
What advice would you give to someone that would like to start their own all-natural beauty business?
Research the market and see what is out there. Try to think of a niche that is not oversaturated and start with just a few products that have unique appeal and that can work well with other products. Build on your basic duo or trio or small collection as you build your brand name. In the years that I have done product development consultation for the natural foods industry, I have seen too much duplication and not enough innovation. That will be the measure of your company's success.
Tell us about the standards that you adhere to when creating and manufacturing your products.
I have maintained the same standards that I began my business with in 1974. Food for the skin, pure and simple formulations that call on ingredients in their most natural state rather than highly refined and denatured. I chose the European standard of formulating because it is a richer ratio of oil to water, and makes for a more concentrated product. our commitment to producing 100% natural skin care encompass eco -sound and recycling practices in our laboratory and in our packaging. our ingredients are animal-free and naturally not animal tested.
You wrote your book, "Aromatherapy And You" (Which will be reviewed on our site very soon) back in 1992. This means that you've been a proponent for all-natural beauty care for some time now. What changes have you seen in this field over the years?
When I first marketed my Aromatherapy Toner in the 70's, I got a lot of feedback about the word Aromatherapy; what was it, how do you pronounce it, what does it do? It was such a surprise to me that I took the word 'Aromatherapy' off of the bottle for two years. At that time, the other 'natural' manufacturers were Rachel Perry and Aubrey Organics. It was a spare beginning in the Aromatherapy' world. By the time I re-introduced the Aromatherapy concept, I had my book to help educate consumers and the European leaders in the Aromatherapy field were beginning to make inroads into American markets. It is such a contrast to see the ways in which Aromatherapy has found a home for itself in American manufacturing today. Why, Glade is selling Aromatherapy toilet sniffers! Where only seven years ago, Aromatherapy students learned to blend with a conservative nod, now we have a 'more is better' approach by some essential oil suppliers and manufacturers. I see our young experience with essential oils taking on a more schooled appreciation as the European and Japanese styles of natural skin care formulating cross over with our styles.