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In a b-glowing.com exclusive interview, we got to know the brains behind the Kahina Giving Beauty brand, founder Katharine L’Heureux. After a visit to Morocco in 2007, Katharine was inspired by the healing powers of argan oil - an ingredient the local Berber women used in their daily skincare routines. And so Kahina Giving Beauty was born.
Read on to learn more about Kahina Giving Beauty's beginnings, the women behind the brand, and what we can expect from the brand in the years to come.
Q: What inspired you to start Kahina Giving Beauty and what does "kahina" mean?
A: I had been searching for effective organic skincare to use myself when I traveled to Morocco in 2007. On that trip, I discovered Argan oil at an apothecary in Marakkesh and realized I had found the single ingredient I had been searching for – sustainable, multi-purpose and effective. After sharing the oil with friends back in the States, I discovered that I wasn’t the only one searching for simple organic skincare that works. At that time, argan oil was barely known in North America so I began to investigate.
I made frequent trips to Morocco to source the highest quality argan oil visiting many cooperatives that produce oil by hand using techniques passed down over generations developed a deep appreciation for Morocco, particularly the Berber women who do the hard work of extracting argan oil.It was then I decided to create the Kahina line of natural, effective and ethically sourced skincare that honors and gives back to these women. One way in which we pay tribute to them is the name. Kahina was a Berber queen who reigned in the area of North Africa that includes Morocco in the 8th Century. In another homage to these women, the artwork on the packaging is a compilation of their signatures and marks as many of these women are illiterate.
Q: Why was it important for you to include the Berber women in the brand story and develop relationships with them?
A: First of all, I think of argan oil as artisanally made and I wanted to highlight the artisans behind the ingredient. I was – and continue to be – so inspired by these women. They live their lives, simply, with joy and gratitude, and I wanted to share their stories and spirit with Kahina’s customers. Finally, working solely with suppliers that pay a fair wage and giving back back to these women is the least I can do in return for them providing me with such an amazing product. It’s what motivates me and gives me a great deal of pleasure. Because they have so little, it doesn’t take much to make a real, positive impact on their lives.
Q: What would you consider the Kahina Giving Beauty "starter" product, for someone who has never tried the brand?
A: Our Travel Basics set is the perfect place to start, with 1 oz sizes of our Facial Cleanser, Facial Lotion and bestselling Kahina Argan Oil. It is a basic regimen that is suitable for all skintypes and can treat a variety of skin concerns.
A: It has always been my intention to keep the Kahina skincare line very simple and basic. At this point, we have created the skincare line I wanted and it seemed a natural evolution to develop body care products. We launched our Rosemary Lavender soaps in a set of three a couple of years ago and received a tremendously enthusiastic response. It contains ground rosemary for a fantastic scrubby experience and the smell is so fresh and invigorating. After numerous requests for individually wrapped soaps, we created these paper designs based on Moroccan tiles in collaboration with Archive New York’s Amira Marion, a friend of mine who is a textile designer in New York. I love having the splash of color in the line.
Our new Fez Hand & Body Balm is a nourishing and soothing balm that will instantly restore and soften severely dry, chapped skin. Both our customers and I felt that we wanted something even more moisturizing for particularly dry spots and this balm was born. A rich blend of argan oil, carrot seed oil, shea butter, coconut oil, olive oil and mango nut butter creates a velvety base that deeply moisturizers and naturally soothes irritated skin. Infused with calendula, known for its anti-inflammatory and powerful healing properties, the Fez Hand & Body Balm can be used on hands, feet, elbows and any other areas in need of softening and deep hydration. Scented with Kahina’s signature Fez fragrance, the balm leaves behind a subtle earthy, warm scent to calm the senses while leaving the skin soft and radiant.
Q: What makes argan oil different from all of the other trendy oils out there?
A: Argan Oil has been used for centuries by the women of Morocco. It only became a “hot” ingredient in the US over the past few years and was really responsible for starting the recent oil craze. Its popularity is well-deserved. With twice the amount of tocopherols (Vitamin E) as in olive oil, and high concentrations of Omega 6 and 9 fatty acids, argan oil moisturizes, reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, restores elasticity and calms inflammation. It also contains plant sterols that have been shown to actually treat acne and because the oil isn’t greasy it works well for all skin types and effectively treats a multitude of concerns. I think at this point, its safe to say that argan oil has gone beyond being a trend to becoming a mainstay in our beauty vocabulary.
Q: What can we expect from Kahina Giving Beauty in the next couple years?
A: It has always been my intention to keep the skincare line simple and uncluttered. At this point, we’ve achieved our goal of creating a great line of argan-based skincare that satisfies most needs. From here, we will probably expand our body line a bit. We’ve been receiving tremendous feedback on the scents of our Kahina Night Cream and Fez Body Serum, so we might explore scent a little more. We are constantly expanding into new international markets and, of course, developing new projects to aid the Berber women at the heart of the line. One of the bonuses of being the owner of a small brand is that I get to make the products I need and initiate the projects that I want to do. It's all very personal.
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