Please meet Amazon Beauty, Inc. co-founder Anna Ayers as we discuss philantropy, environmental protection, empowering indigenous communities – and fabulous hair care.
While my Amazingy press event report and the first review of the Color Full range offered a look at the behind the scenes and an overview of Color Full products, their ingredients, and my first impressions respectively, today I’m talking to Anna Ayers about natural hair care, ethical excellence and being a green entrepreneur.
Because of the amount of information on the new Rahua Color Full collection, I’ve split all there was to say into 3 articles, feeling that they all were very much in tune with my April theme “Transformation – dare to bloom like never before”. One year ago, I’d have forced them together into one post, but then many of you would just skip it, tl;dr style (which I totally understand!). As usual, I appreciate your feedback, so let me know what you think – one huge article or several in a row?
The Nature of Ethical Business
Here on BEAUTYCALYPSE you’ve had the opportunity to meet ethical entrepreneurs who put ingredient and raw material sourcing at the heart of their companies with philantropy being part of the business model – Blyss Chocolate‘s own Alyssa Jade McDonald-Bärtl, Barb Stegemann of The 7 Virtues Fragrances of Peace. There are ethical brands that help preserve ancient and artisanal knowledge by creating modern ethical products and empowering artisanal communities – Abury, Raw Copenhagen, or Amalena. Rahua is another example of successful ethical business.
Founded by Fabian Lliguin and Anna Ayers back in 2008, Amazon Beauty, Inc. – the company behind the Rahua brand – has managed to stand out in a very loud and crowded marketplace of organic, natural and near-natural cosmetics and to really establish themselves as leaders in natural hair care.
How did they achieve that? By pursuing something that I am always on a lookout for – ethical excellence.Anna Ayers, Fabian Lliguin (© Amazon Beauty/ Rahua)
At Rahua, excellence in product development meets ethical sourcing and production, checking off all those modern-day product requirement boxes: vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, no parabens, no sulfites. True to their claim RAINFOREST GROWN BEAUTY, the brand educates consumers on the fragility of the rainforest, helps preserve ancient traditions and empowers indigenous communities by creating business opportunities.
The wild harvesting of the Rahua oil is an ancient tradition performed by indigenous women (neither men nor any strangers are allowed to attend). The trees with the healthiest and most potent nuts/ seeds can’t be farmed – instead, they are found in the most remote areas of the rainforest, and the process of separating the seeds from the fruit takes up to a month.
It’s a process that’s as much sacred as it is artisanal – and this tradition’s ancient rituals wre about to die when Fabian first discovered Rahua about a decade ago.
Anna Ayers Interview
Q: Anna, this particular question is the wrap-up question in my BEAUTYCALYPSE Brand to Watch Q&As series, but I’d like to start with it today. What do you appreciate the most about being ethical entrepreneur?
A: It’s definitely working with the people in the Amazon rainforest. Fabian and I just got back from our trip three weeks ago and I feel like I’m part of the family. It’s a beautiful thing and very rewarding. We started our company almost 10 years ago and to see how far it’s come and how many families are working with us now – over five hundred. We started a sustainable economy from scratch, it didn’t exist before, so it’s really rewarding.
Q: With the Rahua styling products and the iconic oil serum, do you feel you’re increasing the rate of innovation in natural hair care?
A: Hair care and natural is a hard category. 🙂 And Rahua really gives us the answer, this oil really transforms the hair. Fabian, my husband, is a hair stylist and colourist, and he understands what the hair needs and what customers are looking for, and they’re looking for products that work! 🙂
It’s got to be high performance – we want natural but it’s got to work. So we can’t make products quickly, we have to really put a lot of time into development and to make sure we get it right. And yes, innovation with styling is very challenging, but mother Nature gives beautiful ingredients. Like in our dry shampoo – using cassava root, star anise and vanilla, all of these things are going back to mother Nature, to grandmothers’ recipes, and we’re coming up with great solutions that kind of existed before, but we’re putting a twist on them. We always look to nature for cool ingredients and cool ideas and that’s the fun part.
I also like to think of it as a way to connect people back to nature. If someone uses a Rahua product and feel like they’re standing under a waterfall, or if it brings them back to a beautiful place they’ve been, it’s reconnecting them, and it becomes personal, and you wanna take care, whether it’s the rainforest or your environment, you’re just more aware.
Q: That’s an interesting thought. Do you see that awareness in customers, do they ask you what they can do to protect the environment?
A: Yes, some do. But I want our customers to know that by purchasing our products they’re already contributing. Because we purchase our oil directly from the makers. Fabian and I go there directly, and we work with the indigenous leaders and communities. That’s the business model and that’s the philanthropy. We also give back with special projects that are very grassroots and hands on, direct to the source. So there’s no middleman sending money, it’s direct to the needs, whether it be machetes – or salt. Often very basic, but also very important when you live in the rainforest.Anna Ayers at the Amazingy press event
Q: Speaking of the rainforest –you’re contributing to the rainforest protection by establishing business opportunities, so can we talk about the process of obtaining Rahua oil?
A: Rahua is wild. The virgin rainforest is required for the nuts to flourish. Otherwise the trees don’t produce seeds, the oil is not potent. And this is why we decided to do this, because mother Nature here is protecting itself. Also these processes are traditional, ceremonial. The Rahua oil is handmade by women in the forest, it’s not industrial, it’s a tradition and it’s very different to how many ingredients are usually obtained. And it’s really the reason why the ingredient is so potent and transformative. You can feel the difference in just one drop of this oil. It just treats the hair in a different way than a synthetic. The energy of the handmade product is just different, its nature connection.
Q: Is that particular part of the rainforest endangered?
A: The forest in general is endangered. The rainforest goes through nine different countries. We work in Ecuador near the borders of Peru, and this particular area has the largest amount of indigenous people still living in their traditional ways in those large areas of forest. So we think that helping them to stay there actually protects the forest. If they are living in the terrain they are its protection.
More and more they’re aware of it and want to be there. The younger generations now have more pride and they also want to stay because there are cool things to do now, it’s possible to make money. They’re proud of their tradition, so it’s changing.
Q: Let’s now look at the Color Full range. What rainforest treasures do we find there?
A: Yes, the Rahua Color Full Shampoo, Conditioner and Hair Mask. Color Full means full of colour and full of life, vibrant like mother Nature. And the Color Full system protects and preserves vibrancy for all shades. Blondes, red, brunettes, pastels and all in between. The reason the series is so great is the technology with some new and some recurring rainforest grown ingredients. Now, all of our products are safe for colour-treated hair, but this series is specifically catering to the colour in a particular way.
So, first we use the Rahua oil. And when this oil is processed it becomes a fine molecule. This molecule has a positive charge, while colour treated hair has a negative charge. So those are attracted, and then the fine molecules fill in the hair and help push the pigmentation deeper into the strands. And that’s the first layer of defense. 🙂
Second we’re using Amazonian lilac clay, which helps to fill in the hair’s porosity and strengthens it. The clay also helps to slow the oxidation process. So this is one of the reasons why it’s great for all colour-treated hair because all colour oxidises. This slows it and helps neutralise the oxidation.
And then lastly we use Morete oil, which is another tribal ingredient, an oil used by indigenous communities. It’s rich in Beta-carotene and it helps to provide an outer barrier, encapsulating the strands and giving beautiful shine. So that’s the primary technology with the products.
The Hair Mask has Hibiscus extract which gives a really nice shine and bounce.
We’ve also introduced a new scent. We’re using Gardenia Enfleurage and Lavender. So we’re have a floral scent… flower power. 🙂
Q: Will it be as beneficial to non-treated hair?
A: Yes! All products are about health. And this particular line brings the shine to the hair in a really beautiful way, so it makes your natural colour pop.
Thank you, Anna!