Creating a beauty brand is never easy, least of all now, when consumers are fickle and the beauty marketplace heaving with activity. Yet when you are young & determined, the world is your oyster, in more ways than one. All you need is to pull up your sleeves and work heard, in order for your dream to become a reality. That’s exactly what Sarah Zimmer, founder of Naya, set out to do.
Naya is a beautiful mix of science & natural luxury. Sarah’s aim was to create a beauty product range, free from a number of harmful & unethical ingredients, including synthetic fragrances, colorants, parabens, mineral oils, silicones, sulphates, GMO, PEGs, DEA, MI, formaldehyde, mercury, lead & bee venom. The brand is already PETA certified & Sarah is also currently considering getting the Leaping Bunny certification. In addition, Naya is in process of becoming part of the B Corporation Community, whose mission is to be purpose-driven & to create benefits for all stakeholders, not just shareholders.
‘Our approach to skincare goes beyond our products. We work closely with our growers & partners to establish good practises that will deliver the purest ingredients to nourish your skin, feed your soul & calm your mind’ Sarah Zimmer, founder of Naya
In time Sarah plans to feature a range of products, but a few weeks ago she launched her first one, Naya Everyday Face Oil with pure cacay oil, £40 for 30ml, which I have been testing for about a month now, in order to share my impressions with you. In actual fact, Sarah travelled from home to Central London in the middle of the snow blizzard, in order to deliver this oil to me in person. If that’s not personal customer service, no matter the weather conditions, I don’t know what is .)
A mix of Patchouli, Orange, Lemon & Juniper Berry & using natural ingredients sourced directly from local communities, Sarah works with manufacturers in South America, but crafts her face oil in her native Germany, with her home base being currently in London. When she dreamed up the brand, she was understandably nervous, but equally very excited to make a leap & become a beauty brand founder, something that she has been working on for the last few years. Not looking for an easy route & exploring the best options she could find, Sarah chose to use oils sourced from South America, where she also reinvests a percentage of the profit back into the communities, with whom she collaborates.
The ingredients on the list of ingredients are bio-active botanicals, but they can’t be necessarily certified as ‘organic’, as they are sourced via local communities of indigenous people, who collect the ingredients from the wilderness of the rainforest.
Naya key objectives as an ethical brand:
- Scientific-based product range, made safely & under the expert guidance of a green chemist with over 30 years of industry experience and an aromatherapist.
- A natural range that packed with botanical actives.
- A brand that isn’t going to give anyone post-purchase guilt: affordable, yet luxurious.
- Ethical on all fronts, from the ingredients to the testing. The effectiveness of Naya oils has been tested by labs in South America & Germany.
- Created for women who want to age gracefully. We cannot stop time, but we want to create products that supports the concept of ‘age-well’ in a natural way.
- Suitable for all ages & skin types, including sensitive.
- A complete treat to use, beautifully presented.
Before Sarah launched her first Naya face oil, we exchanged multiple e-mails & met in person twice, so I could learn from Sarah about her passion for natural skincare, about the Columbian community that she cares deeply about & the beauty of the Amazon, as well as the wonderful benefits that cacay oil can bring to the skin with regular use. Looking at the breathtakingly beautiful images of nature & cacay trees on Sarah’s phone, made me reflect how little we often know about ‘exotic’ ingredients in our skincare & how brands like Naya give their customers a chance to learn through their experience & work about the natural ways of the world, as well as showcase the dedication of local suppliers to organic or natural farming alongside nature’s seasons, refusing to speed up crops & amounts of harvest.
Q & A with Sarah Zimmer, founder of Naya (pictured standing next to a cacay tree in Columbia)
Galina A-P: What does the brand name mean?
Sarah Zimmer: ‘Naya’ means fresh & new. The name has an origin from the Arabic and Hindi languages.
GAP: What is your professional background?
SZ: I have started my career in Marketing Communication, Planning & Strategy after my graduation from Cass Business School and then moved into NPD, Product Management and eventually into Product Strategy roles. I am also a trained life-coach, nutritionist and I took courses in organic skincare formulation. All this brought me to the point of being ready to create & launch Naya into the world. One of my main aims is to help women be mindfully beautiful through ageing gracefully, by using natural skincare & giving skin the nourishment that it needs every day.
GAP: What inspired you to launch your own brand?
SZ: A combination of reasons. Firstly, since the early days, my mum used to mix her own masks, oils & remedies when I was little. I adopted this along the way & experimented. In addition, when I was a teenager, I suffered from PCOS & unfortunately had acne for years, till my early adulthood. After having seen various dermatologists, I started researching the topic myself as in these days, no one really knew how to treat PCOS. The response used to be in the form of metformin and cortisol, rubbing harsh products onto the skin, ultimately sensitising my skin. Through the combination of the right nutrition, changing my lifestyle, using natural products & avoiding harsh products, I managed to rid myself completely of acne. I actually turned to oils during that time & my previous personal perception of oil has changed – now they are an essential part of my daily skincare routine. Thus, I have a strong desire to promote the transformational power of nature and hopefully contributing to the process of change in the traditional beauty industry.
Some interesting facts to know about Sarah & Naya
- Sarah is London-based, however she is German & chose to set up the production in Germany.
- Naya is starting its journey with oils, however the brand plans to introduce other products, like moisturisers & serums, in due course.
- Naya plans on growing up slowly & organically, getting its brand name out & promoting a particular oil, sourced directly from the communities in South America. Sarah is passionate about South America & her products, which will predominantly contain oils native to South America. She is passionate about working with her ethical sourcing network that she created. Naya doesn’t source its ingredients via distributors or via middlemen, but directly from the communities where the botanicals come from.
Cacay oil comes from the ancient nut, which grown on trees in the Amazon ( jungle areas of Venezuela, Peru, Columbia, Ecuador & northern Brazil) & until recently it has been somewhat forgotten or ignored. However, it seems to be coming up on the beauty radar in the last couple of years. The difference really comes down from the source and they way nuts are grown, harvested & processed, so it is worth paying attention to provenance & quality.
‘When using our products you are not only helping your skin, you are supporting our investment back into local communities, as reforestation of hectares of destroyed Amazonian rainforest, will generate income for the growers & ingenious families’
The process of gradual de-forrestation in order to make way for cattle farming has led to complications in getting to cacay trees & its nuts. But Sarah’s supplier is someone who is both passionate & determined. They started re-planting trees several years ago & use no chemicals, as they are vegan & wholeheartedly believe in the benefits of natural seasonality & organic farming. Sarah told me that it is only ‘female’ trees that produce cacay nuts, but trees can change their ‘sex’ from year to year, naturally. Cacay trees are part of the sacha inchi family & Sarah buys the oil necessary for her products directly from the supplier & contributes to re-investing of the funds into making infertile soil fertile again. Sarah doesn’t build her business from afar, she actually travels to Columbia from time to time in order to be hands-on when it comes to her products, from start to finish, which customers are now able to purchase from the Naya website.
Cacay trees are big & bushy, but it takes five or six years after planting before they start producing nuts, so the process requires not just careful planning, but commitment on the part of producer. For a long time the trees have been used for feeding livestock, treating wounds & for firewood. The nuts themselves, after being harvested, need to be dried naturally on the racks, then further in the ovens, after which each needs to be peeled by hand – something that requires lots of patience, skill & time.
‘We would never include anything we would not use on ourselves or our loved ones’ Naya mission statement
Now, what about my own experience with using ‘Everyday Face Oil’ with pure cacay oil? This oil was created with women of all ages & skin types in mind, including sensitive skin types. Sarah told me that this face is also suitable for teen skin (in case you are reading this & you have a teen daughter or niece, who is keen to find natural products for her skin & is worried that a face oil can clog her pores – is there a time when we don’t worry about our pores?). This face oil is meant to be used both in the morning & at night time – you can easily use it on its own, but also can follow it up with a serum or moisturiser, depending on your skin needs. I have normal/combination skin & I tested it on its own in the morning & added a light moisturiser on top of it in the evenings, but not always – I tend to examine my skin before my morning or evening routine, trying to figure out what it needs in the moment in time. I also take care to notice how my skin feels some time after product application – is it ok how it is, or does it need some extra ‘layering’ on top?
Everyday Face Oil has a high concentration of essential fatty acids that help keep the skin supple & hydrated. Cacay Oil on its own is rich in antioxidants & has naturally occurring Retinol A to fight free radicals & slow down the process of aging. Naturally fragranced with a floral blend of Patchouli, Orange, Lemon & Juniper Berry, this daily facial oil strengthens skin’s barrier & soothes dull & uneven skin. With regular use you can expect to see a more natural glow re-appear on your skin, something that you notice when looking in the mirror, thinking ‘hm, I look good’ to yourself.
Feeling luxuriously nourishing its not too ‘liquid’, which helps it be absorbed quickly into the skin, while you get on with you day or bring it to a close. Gently massage a few drops into clean, but slightly damp face, neck & décolletage. Inhale deeply as you do this & let the wonderful & natural fragrance derived from essential oils fill your senses. I tend to warm a drop or two on the tips of my fingers & do a quick, but gentle massage of the eye area with this oil as well & delicate eye area seems to respond well to it.
Sarah also told me that cacay oil is known for its benefits when applied to stretch marks, acne & scars, helping them become less noticeable in time, but as the oil comes in a 30ml size I didn’t extend its use to my body, apart from the tops of my hands, after massaging my face & neck with it. As the scent settles on the skin, it becomes like a gentle caress that feels upliftingly reassuring. Something that I particularly enjoy as I bring my day to a close with the evening meditation, without lighting up a candle or burning an incense. One of the benefits of using a face or body oil the smell of which you find uplifting or calming, as it can encourage you to take deeper, fuller breathes & slow down your breathing, making your mind more relaxed or more focussed. In time just a whiff of this or that oil can calm or re-energise you.
Another thing that I wanted to mention to you before completing this post, is the exterior packaging. Naya’s face oil comes in a pretty two-piece box, but you are in for a delightful surprise when you lift the top part of it. The bottle ‘pops out’ and the bottom part of the box unfolds, like the flower petals touched by the sun rays after the sunrise. When I first opened the box, it looked like the pretty flower opened up in the palm of my hand, revealing Everyday Face Oil at its core – a touch of creative magic, there to surprise & delight you. Something that as a customer I don’t take for granted, because nothing speaks louder than the actions of the brand when it comes to creating & launching new products.
List of ingredients: Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Caryodendron Orinocense (Cacay) Seed Oil*, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Tocopherol, Bisabolol, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Parfum [Pogostemon Cablin (Patchouli) Oil, Juniperus Communis (Juniper) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil], Linalool**, Geraniol**, Benzyl Benzoate**, Benzyl Salicylate**, Citral**, Citronellol**, Limonene** (* wildly collected; **naturally occurring in essential oil)
To find out more about Naya, please click here on the link to there website (the link is not affiliated)