There is not only something so special about Hawaii, but something SUPER special about Hawaiian skin care products. With rare oils, botanicals and fruits from the island, you can't find anything fresh like this on the mainland.
I had the opportunity to chat with Leah, a few months before the launch of her rebranded and expanded skin care line and I asked what makes Hawaii so special for her. I was so impressed with how detailed and vivid her answers were, little did I know I could expect the exact same detail, vitality and character in her skin care products (which I have vlogged about below).
Take a minute, and step into the world of Leahlani:
1. Hawaii is a special place. Tell us about the perfect day on the island of Kauai - what do you do, see, smell and experience, and how does this have an influence on your skin care line?
When I think about the perfect Kauai day, it makes me all nostalgic and takes me back nearly 15 years ago to when I first came here. I arrived at night, and couldn’t see a thing. The hour drive from the airport to the North Shore seemed like an eternity, I was so excited to get my feet on the ground and fully embrace Kauai. I am thankful now that I arrived at night, because I got to experience a different side on the island. It is so lush and beautiful here that you easily get distracted by what you ‘see’, but I got to experience her beauty with my other senses first. The warm, balmy, thick tropical air hits you first. You can feel it enveloping you, like a warm hug. The scent is intoxicating, it smells of fresh earth mixed with the faint scent of tropical flowers, distant rain and salty ocean. Kauai is my favorite scent on earth.
My first morning on island, I woke up to the sound of rain and roosters crowing. Looking out one window the sky was grey and the tropical rain was plunging from the sky. Looking out another window showed blue skies and not a drop of rain in sight. I hurried outside, and ran across the street and literally fell to my knees. I could see majestic Hanalei bay sparkling like the diamond she is, in every shade of blue. The mountains that cascade into the land were spilling with waterfalls. Shama Thrush birds were singing their sweet songs and I truly felt like I had just walked inside the most beautiful painting I had ever seen.
I share this because that will always be my perfect Kauai day, just absolute magic.
I have lived on three Hawaiian islands, and what truly influenced Leahlani are the experiences and lessons that I have learned within the years I have spent on each one. I never sat down and wrote a business plan and declared “I want to create a skin care line”. Leahlani Skincare evolved on its own andbegan 10 years ago when I embarked on a healing journey to the island of Maui and enrolled in a Holistic Esthetician school.
Leahlani Skincare is my love story- a love story that brought me back to myself and connected me with hundreds of lovely faces from all over the world in my career as an esthetician and as a formulator. Hawaii is very much the inspiration for Leahlani. Kauai will always be my muse, she is so majestic, enchanting and inspiring and opened up a creative side to me that I never knew existed. Oahu was so energetic and lively, I overcame a lot of obstacles there and was able to find my strength and my voice on that Island, I grew up a lot there. And Maui will always be special to me, it was where I went to heal, and was the birthplace of my journey into the realm of holistic esthetics, skincare and formulation.
2. It seems that everyone is inspired by, and wants to be a mermaid these days. Tell us about your mermaid mask and why everyone is crazy in love.
Oh my beloved Mermaid Mask. I had been mixing this formula for years for personal use out of the desire to create a product that utilized a lot of local ingredients from the Islands. The Mermaid Mask is made from the rich soil and sweet nectar of the Hawaiian Islands. The base is a blend of raw, organic and local honeys from the islands and the spirulina we get is organically grown on the Big Island. Its a little pot of emerald magic. I love that it is so adored, it has created a ‘Mermaid Tribe’ across the globe. You have no idea how much this warms my heart. My inbox and Instagram DM is flooded with photos of women, men and children Mermaid-ing it up.
It is loved for many reasons. It truly is an amazing face mask, the reviews on our shop speak for themselves. This mask is clarifying, purifying, detoxifying, stimulating, balancing and hydrating. For a single skincare product, that is amazing.
When we released it, I was worried how it would appeal to the senses of everyone. Spirulina, algae, sea buckthorn and Chlorella are strongly scented, and there is a robust concentration of each of these ingredients in the formula. Getting the right blend of essential oils that were both beneficial for the skin and smelled lovely was quite the task, but I suppose I did something right as everyone always tells me how much they adore the scent.
I believe each little jar is enveloped with the beauty and spirit of the islands. And because my love for it is so big, that transcends into the creative process when making it. Im enamored by the entire step by step process that goes into its creation. This baby is infused with a lot of aloha.
3. How does living with intention, being authentic and nurturing yourself contribute to the success of your business?
Oh my! You must have listened to my on air interview on the beauty biz show! Im afraid there is no short answer for this…
I believe that we all have special gifts to offer the world. We are asked when we are young what we want to be when we grow up…. I wanted to be a million different things, but I was led to do this path. When we touch base with our authentic self and really dig deep and ask ourselves “what am I meant to do, what are my passions and what do I have to offer”, the answers will come. The universe will nudge you and teachers and guides will start to pop up along the way that will help ensure you that you are on the right path. This is when it is important to set your intention and become clear in what you are doing and what you hope to accomplish. Why follow in the footsteps of someone else when you can create your own path from your very own footsteps? I think success follows if you create from love, and from a place of authenticity.
Being authentic, living with intention and learning to nurture myself are the true roots of Leahlani Skincare. This path essentially chose me. It was literally a split second decision my husband and I made ten years ago to leave Oahu and head to Maui so that I could attend Spa Luna, a holistic esthetician school. I had been on bedrest for a month writhing in pain from women's health issues and my skin was a complete wreck. I was seeking healing, and somehow came across the website for Spa Luna. We had never been to Maui, I had never even had a facial, we had little money and had nothing secured over there other then a place to live that we had found on craigslist rented sight unseen and full enrollment into this school I had just found online, yet knew very little about. I felt a very strong pull to go, I knew it was part of my next chapter, I just didn’t have a clue why.
On the second day that we arrived to Maui, we decided to drive to check out the school, where I would be spending all of my time for the following 5 months. On the way, I was full of anxiety. What did I just do? Did we really just embark on this crazy journey on some sort of ‘hunch’ that I had? What exactly is an esthetician and how can I possibly work on skin when mine is such a mess?
We stopped in a local bakery/restaurant on the way for a cinnamon roll. When I was paying the woman behind the register, I commented to her on what an amazing job she was doing. Bartending, busing tables, serving food all by herself and the place was slamming busy. She laughed and asked me “you want a job?”. The owner came out and threw an apron at me and said, “you start tomorrow”. I thought he was joking, he wasn’t. I started the next day and worked there for the entire year we lived on Maui. I took it as a little nudge from the universe assuring me, you are where you are meant to be- just go with it…. and so I did.
My experience at this school deserves its own separate write up, lets just say it was one of the best experiences of my life. It was so much more then an Esthetician school. Not only did my experience there heal me in a way, it also trained me how to help heal others. I had to fully understand how to nurture myself in order to teach my clients how to nurture and help themselves. Our hands harness so much power, and very soon, I will be talking much more about this.
I also learned about Intention through my time in school as well. Setting an intention is a powerful tool and a strong declaration. It immediately brings you back to your center and to ‘now’. The first thing I always did in my practice, my own little ritual, was gently lay my hands on my clients face and quietly set the intention. Whether it was to promote deep relaxation, comfort, healing.. whatever it was, it was brought to the forefront.
I share all of this because I believe the success of my business is a direct result of me following my heart and embarking on an authentic journey into holistic esthetics, setting the intention for healing and love, and helping othersharness the desire to begin to nurture and care for themselves the way I have learned from creating and sharing Leahlani.
I would not have been able to formulate my skincare line and Leahlani would not exist without my years as an esthetician under my belt, and I would have never become an esthetician had I not gotten sick and been inflicted with severe skin problems. There is only so much you can learn about skin through a book, and I am more of hands-on learner and with skin, it really is hands-on… there is so much to learn. I have touched hundreds and hundreds of faces and dedicated years into formulating and expanding my education . Leaving my esthetic practice was one of the hardest decisions for me. I loved my clients and loved what I did.. but I had an emotional breakdown. Leahlani Skincare was growing rapidly and my practice was building and here I was trying to balance both. This is when I asked Momma Kauai to help me determine which one to give up, and the answer was crystal clear.
In a way, Leahlani is an integration of both of my true passions-people are able to give them selves a facial with the skincare products I create, how special is that?
4. You are always posting about special ingredients, fruits, flowers, powders and pigments. What is your favourite ingredient that is used in your skin care line and why do you love it?
The first thing that comes to mind is Hawaiian raw honey. The entire process that goes into creating honey by the sweet honey bees is incredible- and the fact that this honey comes from the nectar of the local Hawaiian flowers makes it even more magical. The texture is so delicious and the skin benefits are endless. I suppose it is most special for me because it is the main ingredient in our Honey Love 3-in-1, which is one of the original products in our line and is the one product that truly transformed my skin and helped to clear my cystic acne, and heal the damage that acne leaves behind. For that I will be forever grateful.
5. Is there anything new on the horizon for Leahlani skincare? What can we expect from you next?
Yes, there is so much new-ness on the horizon. The last 6 years years have been a whirlwind for Leahlani, time has flown by so quickly and it has been a game of catch-up for my husband Oliver and I. My sister, Hali, moved to Kauai two years ago and we embarked on a journey together to help bring my ultimate vision for Leahlani into fruition. I have been wanting to add quite a few additions to my line for years. Hali has been in LA for the past year, so we have been working with each other around the clock between both of our schedules via text and email and phone. She has such a fantastic eye for design and beauty, and she has managed to take the essence of me and my brand and have it transcend into the packaging and design of our new look. Every aspect of Leahlani skincare has been created with loving hands, and it has been one of the greatest blessings of my life to have worked with my sister on what is the one of the greatest love stories of my life- Leahlani Skincare. We have so many surprises to share. We are looking forward to expanding the Leahlani Skincare Ohana, and branching out to wholesale. There are so many things that I want to do…. I would love to write more and share my knowledge as well as perhaps do a bit of teaching. I have had so many requests to conduct virtual educational videos or seminars and I look forward to having time to do so in the future. In the meantime, this two year chapter is coming to a close and we will be launching very shortly. We had aimed for June, but it just didn’t happen. And if there is anything I have learned from this whole process it is that good things take time- and you cannot rush a process that is fueled by love and passion. It evolves in its own time. But it will be worth the wait.
Thank you Leah for such a beautiful inspiring interview
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