Meet Grace Culhaci, founder of Zk’in

I am not a cynic but it’s not every day that I meet someone who floors me with their story. Grace Culhaci is a British born entrepreneur who lives in Australia & who I met her during Organic Beauty Week in September, as she came to London to introduce her natural skincare brand to the British public, press and retailers.

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But I am running ahead of myself, let’s start from the beginning. Grace was actually born in London’s Chelsea and her family moved to Canada when she was five. Now Grace calls Australia home, as that’s where she started her own family and where her business was founded.

Grace’s career path started like it does for many people – she left school, went to college, worked as secretary, as well as a missionary, as she very much enjoyed the opportunity to help people. Grace also went to night-school, as she loved the process of learning, followed by University to study law. Along the way a special man came along and Grace started a family, happily looking into the future.

Women who go through pregnancy know that while this state of being is magical, with it come worries, aches and pains and no two pregnancies are alike. In Grace’s case things far from straightforward but they tested her health and her determination ( during the first one she developed a rare skin condition, that led to a rash that covered her body and was almost unbearable. During the second one Grace was diagnosed with an inoperable tumour that was pressing on her optic nerve ).

As life would have it, Grace and her husband have two wonderful girls, who mean the world to Grace. So much so that she actually looked and found a family home that was also close to the industrial estate, from which her business is run. It allows her to combine her love and joy for raising her family and being a hands on mum with the excitement and drive with which she runs her skincare brand Zk’in.

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Zk’in is a range of 12 self-select products that will address your skin concerns at every stage of your life, allowing you to follow a path of ageless beauty. As you can imagine, Grace chooses certified organic ingredients with potency and purity and her formulas have a natural preservative system ( a synergistic blend of bitter orange, radish root, vitamin E, essential oil isolates and basil extract), which in actual fact earned Grace and her company a research and development grant from the Australian government for contributing new knowledge to Australian Science.

Honest Beauty

What drives Grace is her desire ‘to develop a range that negated the need for needles, toxins and synthetics but was also result based’. Consumers have become disillusioned with over-exaggerated claims and imagery, whilst also becoming more ingredient savvy. Central to the ethos of Zk’in, Grace told me, is ‘honest beauty. For us it means a zero tolerance policy to unnatural ingredients, unsustainable business practises, animal cruelty and unrealistic photoshopping’, so simply said ‘Z’ in ‘Zk’in’ is connected to the brand’s ‘zero’ tolerance policy to anything less than the best.

It was also one of the reasons why Grace chose Tanya Linney to be the face of Zk’in- a mother, a model and a professional artist who is not a teen or in her early 20s but an actual woman in her late 30s, to whom other women would be able to relate more realistically.

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Following her health goes, Grace went through an emotional stage, looking for answers and feeling anger & rage. She was losing faith in doctors who couldn’t find solutions, so she went to the beginning, to the drawing board. Grace re-evaluated her diet, decided that she needed a holistic approach and started mixing ingredients. Formulating took about nine months and alongside it Grace formulated her philosophy, creating an organic skincare with a clinical feel.

Another ‘calling card of Zk’in is its unique packaging. Australia is a very multicultural society and alongside the beauty and variety of nature creativity flows with ease. Grace managed to create the packaging that is not only very pleasing on the eye but is environmentally friendly and recyclable as well.

Zk’in in not gimmicky and is affordably priced and alongside it runs the positive legacy of the people, like suppliers who work with the brand. Good health is a gift and Grace is adamant that people who smoke and then run to buy a supplement to counter-act the effect of smoking are definitely not Zk’in potential customers.

The range is divided into products for:

–Normal to Dry skin ( Softening Cream Cleanser; Hydrating Mist; Rejuvenating Moisturiser);

– Oily or Combination skin ( Purifying Cleansing Gel, Clear Skin Toner, Rebalancing Lotion );

– Sensitive Skin ( Calming Cream Cleanser, Hydrating Mist, Relief Moisturiser )

and

– Treatments Range ( Clarifying Exfoliator, Line Smoothing Serum, Soothing Hand Cream, Brightening & Hydrating Mask ).

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When looking at the product ingredient list you will come across some that are familiar to you already, like Colloidal Oatmeal or Cotton Thistle Extract, while others, like EPS Seamant ( derived from plant-based marine bio-technology that helps to create a matt effect ), Quillaja Bark ( helps to reduce skin shine and acne lesions ), Paracress Extract (temporarily blocks muscular contractions that make expressions lines more prominent ) might be new to you.

What strikes me about Grace is that instead of complaining or feeling bitter when she was unwell, she chose to find the energy, courage and kindness to create something that can benefit others while encouraging her own inner creative streak and balancing it with hand-on motherhood, which is the best but equally the most challenging job in the world. She is thoughtful & reflective, as well as creative, inventive and is a wonderful role model for modern women, as well as younger generation of women entrepreneurs.

I plan to review some of Zk’in products soon but in the meantime I hope that Grace’s past health misfortunes and her inspiring story behind Zk’in will make you think about your own health. There is a Russian proverb the jest of which is something along the lines of ‘What we have we don’t value, but we cry when we lose it’. I hope we all reflect and make some subtle changes to our lifestyle choices, no matter how small to start with, rather than end up crying. Namaste!

Zk’in is available to purchase in the UK from LoveLula.com or Xynergy.co.uk

 

In-conversation with Tata Harper: on beauty, balance & motherhood

In the last couple of weeks Tata has been on the tour of Europe, presenting new product launches and catching up with retailers and her customers ( more of which later ). Her schedule has been relentless, yet she looked glowing when we met in London last week, as she was finishing her tour and planning to fly back home with her husband. Tata has such even, glowing skin, one needs to be very confident to take Instagram pictures with her and that is the testament to her skincare products ( only last weekend she was mentioned in Stella’s ’20 Cult Beauty Brands You’ve never heard Of’ but having met Tata a couple of years ago at Content I can testify that her skincare works on women from their 20 years upwards of 60 + – not a lot of skincare brands can truthfully say that is the case ).

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Recently Tata launched two new cleansers ( Nourishing Oil Cleanser & Purifying Cleanser ) in the US and they are expected to reach British shores in January, so don’t spend all of your money in the run up to Christmas .) Unfortunately many women still lack the understanding that without properly cleansing their faces twice a day even the best skincare in the world isn’t going to solve their problems or slow-down the signs of ageing. That is why Tata is so passionate about the power of cleansing ritual, particularly at the end of the day, when you can lock yourself in the bathroom and thanks to her new cleansers pamper your senses and your skin.

Double-Cleansing

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Nourishing Oil Cleanser: it has a luxurious texture but is in no way greasy, so don’t be nervous. It will remove the make-up, even heavy one, while nurturing your skin and with the colour of liquid honey it is very pretty to look at as you apply it to your face. It contains Beta-Carotene, Vitamins A, C, E, Lycoprene and Omega 3. This combination of ingredients will soften and purify the skin, as well as improve your skin’s texture with regular use and soften the skin, making it ideal for dry or de-hydrated skin. As this cleanser is an oil and oil pulls oil, after use excess sebum will be washed off and it will help normalise the process of cell turnover leading to even, healthy, beautiful skin that we all desire, irrespective of our age.

There is a lot of research into accelerated ageing due to the depletion of ozone layer and negative impact of free radicals

According to Tata’s cleansing protocol, here is the best way to use both of the cleansers ( they are ideal for evening use, when you skin needs a thorough cleanse after you have been out and about and gathered dirt and pollution on its surface ).

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  • First, lightly wet the hands and pump a few pumps of the Nourishing Oil Cleanser into the palms. Smooth over your face so it’s completely covered and let it sit for a few seconds.
  • Splash a bit of water on the skin ( make sure it is luke-warm not hot or cold ) and begin a brief facial massage: really massage the oil into the skin in circular motions, focusing on the area around the nose, the cheeks, chin and forehead. This boosts micro-circulation, which flushes fresh blood and oxygen into the skin to give it a healthy glow.
  • Rinse thoroughly.

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While the skin is still damp, apply a few pumps of the Purifying Cleanser to the whole face (and experience that incredibly zesty, wake-you-up scent!).

  • Massage lightly, to activate the enzymes and essential oils and to allow the product to really penetrate the skin. Make sure you avoid the eye area.
  • Rise thoroughly, and viola! Skin will be clean and tingling, soft to the touch and totally makeup free.

Purifying Cleanser has a creamy texture and was developed to detoxify the skin and help counteract the negative environmental factors that effect your skin daily and lead to premature ageing. It will help to get read of the dead skin cells and clear pores of excess oil. Tata created a powerful cocktail of soap-free purifying sugars, broccoli extract and fruit enzymes. It has a sort of minty smell and when you pat your skin dry after using it, you will feel a slightly cool sensation that is incredibly pleasant. With the use of those two cleansers, as well as regular exfoliation ( depending on your skin type ) your skincare products will penetrate better, making them more effective and helping to slow down the affect of time on your skin.

Engage with the customers!

Both formulas took about a year and a half to perfect from the moment of conception but Tata also says that while she loves the formulating & creative process, she also thoroughly enjoys meeting her customers and finding out what they think of the products, listening to their skin concerns and requests for new products. Those discussions often determine the process of next product development. At the same time Tata never rushes and takes time to develop the products until she is completely satisfied with what it does for the skin.

Another new addition to Tata Harper skincare range is the Moisturising Mask and when you smell it, you will be torn between slathering you face and neck in it or resisting the temptation to lick it – it truly smells as good as the dessert counter in Angelina in Paris.

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This mask contains a proprietary MoistureMolecule Complex which will infuse your skin with bio-compatible Hyaluronic Acid to promote deep hydration. This treatment mask helps to protect skin from moisture loss ( by helping the water to circulate evenly within your skin matrix ) and adds beautiful luminosity to your skin within minutes – as it is a leave-on, overnight treatment, imagine its effect that is accelerated by skin’s renewal process during night-time, when you sleep.

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The extraordinarily multi-talentented artist Jessica Zoob

I won’t try to pretend to have an educated view on art ( my university degrees are in banking & journalism )but I love going to art exhibitions and learning something new about the world, the artist and the perception that art gives us. For me, it’s not about the artist being well-known or being heralded by the press and art critics, it’s to do with the artist moving your soul, bringing some kind of emotion ( hopefully positive, rather than negative ) to the surface & giving you pause for reflection. A few years ago I saw the most beautiful paintings by the artist called Jessica Zoob at Medici Gallery in Central London. The paintings were as dramatic, as they were colourful and the memory of them continues to linger. Then one day last September, an interior designer friend of mine Davina MerolaSpace Alchemy Interior Design LTD ) mentioned Jessica’ exhibition

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