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Fresh Faced Interview

Katharine L'Heureux of Kahina Giving Beauty Interview by Fresh Faced

A lifetime believer in the potential of beauty rituals to delight and empower, Kahina Giving Beauty founder Katharine L’Heureux discovered argan oil on the first of many journeys to Morocco. Recognizing a need in the marketplace for beautifully packaged, effective organic skin care that nourishes skin and spirit, Katharine conceived of a niche beauty brand that would give back. To realize her vision to connect women across the world through beauty, Katharine developed and produced the Kahina product line and brand, infusing it with her minimalist esthetic and philanthropic spirit (the company donates 25 percent of its profits to the indigenous Berber women who extract the oil at the heart of the line). She personally sources the argan that goes into Kahina products to ensure the highest quality oil and fair compensation for the women who extract it.

I had a chance to ask Katharine about her inspirations, how she balances business with personal life, and her own beauty philosophy. (And I’m super excited to share the new products she’s working on!)

FF: What inspired you to start Kahina Giving Beauty?
KLH: I had been searching for a natural skincare line that was truly effective. In 2007 the choices were limited.When I discovered argan oil on vacation in Morocco that year, I realized I had finally found the skincare ingredient I had been searching for. When I learned more about the women who work to extract the oil and about the argan forest, I realized I could create a company that could have a positive impact both socially and environmentally, while providing high-performance, results-driven skincare.

FF: What does a typical day look like for you?
KLH: My day starts at 6:45 when I wake up to get my kids breakfast and off to school. Luckily, my youngest goes to school close to our apartment in Manhattan so we can take it a little easy until 8:30I usually get some emails done over morning coffee. When I’m not travelling, I’m at my office, which happens to be my dining room table. We’re a small company, just myself and one employee, so we both have to wear many hats.I spend most of my time managing the sales team, developing new products, working with Moroccan suppliers, and overseeing production, but I can also be found packing boxes for shipping or affixing tags to our limited edition gift sets. The good thing about working from home is that I can be there when my kids return from school. In between the travel, the work, and the kids, I try to fit in some sort of exercise routine, whether it’s a yoga class, some time spent on the treadmill, or a walk along the Hudson River. I’m at home for family dinner and helping my kids with their homework most nights.

FF: Where do you draw inspiration?
KLH: My father for his sense of humour in the face of life’s challenges and his integrity. The Berber women for their strength, their spirit, and their ability to create beauty from the simplest of materials. Morocco inspires me for the complete sensory experience it providesvivid colours, exotic smells, and the beautiful sounds of music and the daily call to prayer. Finally, Donna Karan for her minimalist but accessible aesthetic and for creating Urban Zen, a company and foundation based on the principle of helping others.

FF: Can you tell me a little bit about your ingredients and how you select them?
KLH: First and foremost, our ingredients need to be effective, whether they’re the actives that contribute to skin health or the preservatives that support shelf-life and stability. Our products are certified by Ecocert, so the ingredients and their processing methods must pass Ecocert’s rigid standards for environmental protection and consumer safety. Finally, we source ingredients ethically, from small family farms and certified fair trade whenever possible.

FF: What sets Kahina apart from other brands?
KLH: Kahina was one of the first brands to bring argan oil to the U.S. In 2007, there were a handful of brands using it in their formulations, but we were the first to create a complete natural and organic skincare line based on its amazing properties. We use very high concentrations of the best, selectively-sourced argan oil, something that can’t be said for most brands piggy-backing on the argan oil trend. Kahina is also one of the pioneers of the “luxury organic” category, bringing luxury packaging and efficacy to the natural market. But what really makes us stand out, I think, is our dedication to sustainability from the ground up, beginning with our sourcing the best organic ingredients, to our recycled and recyclable packaging, and finally to our support of the women who extract the oil at the heart of our line.

FF: Can you share your personal beauty philosophy?
KLH: I hate to sound cliché, but beauty really does come from feeling good about yourself. When a woman is confident and happy, she is beautiful. As for my own routine, I keep it simple. I believe in eating well, getting plenty of sleep, staying hydrated, using natural products on my skin, and trying to minimize stress. If I lapse in any of these areas it tends to show up on my skin. I am very no-frills about hair and makeup, so having a good skin and hair maintenance program is important.  

FF: How do you balance running a business with family and other priorities?
KLH: It’s a bit of a juggling act.But the advantage of running my own company is that I can be somewhat in control of my time. My family always comes first, but they know that I am running a business and respect my need to work most evenings and on weekends. I’ve learned not to stress about the things that aren’t that important at home and at workif it means we’re eating scrambled eggs for dinner, or the beds don’t get made sometimes, so be it. Exercise at least four times a week helps me stay sane and I try to get at least eight to nine hours of sleep every night. I also couldn’t do it without an amazing support systemmy husband and my incredible, but small, team. 

FF: Your argan oil has become a bit of a cult favourite among Fresh Faced customers. Can you tell me what new products you’re working on?
KLH: We are very careful about adding new products to our line as we intentionally want to keep the line tight and simple.  After two years in development and testing, we are excited to be launching two new products this fall and wintera wonderfully restorative night cream and a beautifully scented body oil. That’s all I can give away now!

See the original post on Fresh Faced.

Introducing Erica Tanov x Kahina Giving Beauty

Erica Tanov for Kahina Giving Beauty

Erica Tanov for Kahina Giving Beauty

We’ve teamed up with San Francisco-based designer Erica Tanov to create our most luxe gift set ever. Fez Hand & Body Balm and Argan Oil come inside a clutch perfect for day or nighttime use. The two limited-edition woven clutches are reminiscent of Moroccan textiles with a modern twist. The bags are hand cut and sewn in the San Francisco Bay Area, using a mix of fibers from France to create beautiful textured patterns.

“I feel that both Katharine and I share the same values in drawing inspiration from nature, believing in natural beauty and working with traditional artisans and supporting their craft,” explains Tanov.

“I have long been an admirer of Erica’s designs. Her use of the most exquisite materials with a global influence in pieces that are simple and wearable is very much aligned with Kahina’s aesthetic vision,” says Katharine L’Heureux.

These limited-edition clutches are available at givingbeauty.com, Erica Tanov stores, and at select retailers.

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Gratitude Speaks Interview

Gratitude Speaks Interview with Katharine L'Heureux

Thanks for the interview! Gratitude is so important to the work we do at Kahina!

“Through Gratitude Speaks, I get to interview people whose work and presence I admire; who embody that divine spark of aliveness that draws you in; whose love has touched souls and saved lives, and this planet is kinder for it; people who are bright, spirited, and rooted in joy,” Miriam Ava, author of Gratitude Speaks.

Who: Katharine L’Heureux, founder of Kahina Giving Beauty

Katharine L'Heureux with her children

It’s a pleasure to feature Katharine L’Heureux, the founder of Kahina Giving Beauty, on Gratitude Speaks. When I met Katharine for the first time in person at this year’s ANFGB, I was drawn in by her radiance. Yes, her skin is beautifully radiant but she’s also got a good aura that adds to the light. We had a sweet chat and I got to say hi to her lovely daughter, Grace. Being a green beauty enthusiast, I’ve used Katharine’s creations for quite some time. The Antioxidant Mask and the 100% Organic Argan Oil are staples in my routine; the Facial Cleanser doubles as a nice enzyme mask. Oh, and the new Fez Hand & Body Balm is divine. The beauty of Kahina reaches beyond skincare, though. Katharine works with the Berber women of Morocco who extract the organic argan oil using techniques passed down through generations. By the sharing of traditions, a bridge between Northern Africa and New York has come to life that honors the craft of the Berber women, improves their lives, and offers pure beauty to women around the world. Named after a Berber queen and prophetess, Kahina reminds us that beauty is power and power is beauty. I’m excited to share Katharine’s life experience and wisdom with you. Hope you enjoy.

1) How do you define gratitude, and what are you grateful for?

Gratitude is being thankful, and I have so much to be thankful for: my health and the health of my family, the love of family and friends, the privilege of living in the society I do, the opportunity to create and operate a successful business

2) What is art to you?

Art lies in the intention of the creator. The best art connects one to something larger, such as a shared human experience.

3) When did you experience significant personal growth, and how did it impact your perspective on life?

When I was starting Kahina, which was a time of great excitement as well as tremendous anxiety, my then teenage daughter became critically ill. Over the next two years she was hospitalized and underwent numerous surgeries that severely impacted her quality of life during her high school years. It was during that time that I learned to pray. To me, this meant focusing on what was good in my life, even if only feeling love and support from those around me, and giving thanks for those things. This kept the negative thoughts at bay and helped me stay afloat and moving forward through a very difficult time. I learned to practice gratitude during that time.

4) What other gems of joy & wisdom would you like to share with us?

Put out positive energy and you will attract positive energy

Create beautiful things that you can be proud of

Avoid waste in anything, ie. time, words, materials

Live simply and appreciate the moment

Be satisfied with what you have

Always consider those less fortunate

Know you can achieve great things

Indulge often”

See the original post on Gratitude Speaks.

Kahina Facials with Kristina Holey

Facialist Kristina Holey

Meet Kristina Holey, a holistic facialist with world-class training. Her recent arrival in NYC got the attention of none other than Vogue.

We’re thrilled to announce that Kristina offers Kahina-based facials at her new SoHo location – 611 Broadway. You can visit her Mondays this fall (October and November) and receive a complimentary custom-oil facial blend, featuring Kahina Argan Oil or Kahina Prickly Pear Seed Oil. To book an appointment, email her at kristina [at] kristinaholey.com.

Kristina Holey Fall in New York City

More about Kristina:
Kristina Holey is a skin care specialist, with a focus on the scientific and holistic processes of the body. Kristina’s philosophy of creating a balanced and respectful ecosystem stems from her fascination in human anatomy and how to work with the body to obtain optimal wellness.

A California native, Kristina currently resides in New York City, after spending 2 years living abroad in Paris. It was there that she held an apprenticeship with renowned Parisian skin expert, Joelle Ciocco. At the Joelle Ciocco Center for Skin Care, she was given the opportunity to treat a wide range of international clients, skin types and conditions, with Joelle’s custom and celebrated techniques.

Additionally, Kristina studied at the ISIPCA (Institut Supérieur International des Parfums, Cosmétiques et Arômes Alimentaires), one of the world’s most prestigious fragrance and cosmetics schools. Her training was centered on the the science behind cosmetic formulation, pure plant extracts, and their effects on skin anatomy and wellness, as well as thorough analysis of the efficacy of modern skincare and beauty products.

The unique pairing of her scientific background in chemistry and cosmetic formulation, California roots, and French training enables Kristina to provide effective treatments as well as expert advice on skin routines, body awareness and overall wellness.

She believes that by creating a nourishing environment through internal health we enable the skin to function both optimally and innately. Through consciously supporting the natural ecosystem of our skin, in combination of the appropriate products, we can obtain the results of ultimate beauty- both inside and out.

Kristina Holey

Get Girls Back to School

Moroccan girls go to schoolGirls on their way into school

This September, 100% of every purchase of Kahina Argan Oil on givingbeauty.com goes to funding girls’ education so they can go BACK TO SCHOOL.

WHO: Girls in rural Morocco who otherwise would not be able to go to school past 3rd grade
WHY: Girls from rural areas of Morocco must travel to larger cities for access to education beyond basic elementary school. They need to be boarded, an expense that most families cannot afford – and conditions in government run housing are poor and unsafe. Education For All Morocco provides free, safe boarding homes for girls so they can continue their education. The organization, which was founded in 2007, has recently opened its fifth boarding home in the High Atlas region of Morocco. It costs approx. $2,000 to provide free food and board to each girl for one year. The organization is providing housing for approximately 100 girls.
HOW: We are donating 100% of sales (that’s $36 for 30 ml argan oil and $82 for the larger 100 ml size) of Kahina Argan Oil purchased on givingbeauty.com to Education for All Morocco.
WHEN: The entire month of September, 2014.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Please visit Education for All Morocco’s website HERE.

This is Kahina’s fourth year supporting EFAM and we could not be more thrilled to continue with your help this year.

Kahina throw rugs hand-loomed by the women of Kahina in Morocco


presenting the rug edited

In May of 2011, on a trip to visit my argan supplier in a remote village high in the Mid-Atlas Mountains, I was shown the weaving cooperative in the village, where the women who crack the nuts for our argan oil were learning to weave rugs as a way to make extra money. The following year, Kahina donated money to buy sheep in order that the women would have wool to use for their weaving. In 2013, on a return trip to the village, I was presented with a beautiful hand-loomed rug decorated with the Kahina circle and star graphic. My rug has lived beside my bed warming my feet and heart ever since.

Kahina Berber Rug

 

Earlier this year, I asked the women to weave me more rugs exactly like the one they presented to me three years ago. I am thrilled to now offer these exclusively on givingbeauty.com. SHOP NOW.

Each 2’ x 4’ rug is hand-loomed using virgin sheep’s wool and natural dyes by the Berber women of the weaving cooperatives who also do the work of cracking the nuts for our argan oil.

Prickly Pear Seed Oil NEW from the women of Kahina Giving Beauty

Prickly Pear cactus photo edited for blog

Prickly pear seed oil came onto my radar shortly after I discovered argan oil in Morocco in 2007. Numerous suppliers in Morocco were touting the anti-aging effects of the hard-to-obtain oil, which was taking off in Europe at the time. I tried many samples from different producers and, while I was becoming convinced of the skin claims, the scent was something that I – not to mention my husband – couldn’t exactly embrace as part of my nightly ritual (something akin to grassy cat urine).

Then, four years ago, my argan supplier in the Mid-Atlas mountains began a Prickly Pear Seed planting project to provide additional economic activity for the women inhabitants. The work of extracting the prickly pear seed oil is even more labor intensive than for argan oil, requiring approximately four days to collect and dry the tiny seeds for one liter of oil. Since that time, I have witnessed the growth of the cactus plants on my annual visits, including watching them survive one severe drought that practically demolished every other harvest (and which took its toll on the extremely resilient argan trees).

The same attention to every harvesting and production detail that has resulted in our superior argan oil, has produced a superb outcome in our new Prickly Pear Seed oil. Richer in weight than pure argan oil, the Kahina Prickly Pear Seed oil goes on velvety smooth without leaving skin greasy and has a unique odor reminiscent of fresh hay (to me, at least).

While we love our argan oil for its multi-tasking prowess, particularly its ability to control sebum production, prickly pear seed oil is finding a place in my anti-aging arsenal for its high concentration of tocopherols, betalains (powerful antioxidants) and Vitamin K. And, like argan oil, it is loaded with essential fatty acids to smooth and plump fine lines and wrinkles.

Prickly pear seed oil is an excellent source of essential fatty acids (approximately 83%), especially linoleic acid (63%), tocopherols (1000 mg), betalaines, Vitamin K, amino acids and trace elements. Ideal for mature, dry skin, prickly pear seed oil moisturizes and softens skin while restoring skin’s elasticity, protecting against free radicals, and brightening under-eye circles.

Our pure cold-pressed Prickly Pear Seed oil is bottled at the source, including the Berber women in even more of the value chain.

Available only on givingbeauty.com.

Prickly Pear Seed Oil bottle cropped

 

Katharine and Elle Magazine do Morocco

Moroccan beauty ingredients

Moroccan beauty ingredients

It was with immense pleasure that I had the opportunity to travel with April Long, Executive Beauty Editor of Elle Magazine to Morocco last January. April joined me in Fez in the hopes of unlocking the traditional beauty secrets of Morocco, with an exploration of the ancient walled city to discover my scent inspiration for our Fez Body Oil and Hand and Body Balm launching this week.

January is not an ideal time to travel to Fez. The cold is the kind that seeps into your bones, even when its 55 degrees, while rain runs in rivulets down unpaved dirt streets. Howling winds blew the furniture over on the rooftop of our riad in the the old city.   But April revealed herself to be an intrepid traveler, undeterred by the conditions from exploring every alleyway, madrassa, spice stall and antique shop, with our noses and my trusted friend Majid as our guides.

April and Majid in the Fez Medina

April and Majid in the Fez medina

We spent a lovely, though chilly, afternoon in the home of Yasmine, who showed us her own beauty secrets passed down to her by her mother (obviously very effective). We ground roses, chamomile and lavender to mix with rhassoul clay and savon noir to soften and clarify skin and hair, while drinking Moroccan mint tea and eating delicious homemade pastries. Concoctions in hand, April went off to the public hammam (I opted to stay behind, having experienced the hammam many times before – and feeling more comfortable stripping down in a roomful of complete strangers than with the Executive Beauty Editor of a major fashion magazine).

April Long receiving a lesson in making her own traditonal  Moroccan beauty treatment

April Long receiving a lesson in making her own traditional Moroccan beauty treatment

As April writes in the August issue of Elle, “…at the hammam, I tapped into something else that gives argan oil its power….I felt a sort of sisterhood, and not just because we’re all topless. We may not have a single word of shared language, but we all want soft skin and shiny hair; we all hope to walk out looking radiant,” says April. “Ultimately, it’s all about connection.”  The beauty of shared rituals – Kahina’s message exactly. It was wonderful to share this experience with April – and realize one more wonderful connection.

Staying warm and well-fed inside the Riad Laaroussa in Fez

Staying warm and well-fed inside the Riad Laaroussa in Fez

A beautiful partnership – Kahina and Archive New York

Kahina Rosemary Lavender Argan Soap

It happened over coffee with textile designer and founder of Archive New York, Amira Marion. It was a cold January morning in New York and I was yearning for color. We were looking at my photos of Morocco when we stumbled across a photographic tile study I had done and inspiration struck. We decided then to collaborate on a series of prints for Kahina based on these images, the first of which is the wrapping for our Rosemary Lavender Argan soap.

This is the original tile, discovered in Fez:

original tile

 

For Archive New York, Amira creates graphic interpretations of traditional Guatemalan prints to use in a beautiful line of home textiles. Her line, launching this month, is already selling out at Steven Alan in New York. She brings her fresh take on traditional design to create the beautiful papers enclosing our soaps.

To see more of Amira’s work and learn more about Archive NY, click here.