On Board With...Helena Chapman & Maja Griffith, co-founders of Rosalena Skincare
A beautiful range of skincare that harnesses the natural power of plants to transform the skin, Rosalena Skincare is an award-winning, non-toxic, 100% natural brand of face oils and a face mist that seeks to encourage users to have a mindful experience with every application. Pilot PR sits down with Rosalena two founders, Helena Chapman & Maja Griffith, to find out more:
Where are you from?
I was born in Sheffield but raised in Kent - the Garden of England.
I was fortunate to grow up in the beautiful Cape, in South Africa, where the sun really does seem to shine all year round.
Were you always interested in botanicals?
As an 80’s child growing up in the fierce South African sun with fair skin and freckles, I did untold damage to my skin. Frank & Sense, our first face oil, was a direct inspiration from my childhood days. It was fabulous to be able to incorporate Cape Chamomile into Frank & Sense as the scent truly reminds me of the dry heat and smell of the Cape fauna and flora. Now it’s a lifesaver on the slopes or after a day in the surf in Cornwall.
Both my parents are exceptionally keen botanists and gardeners (and hippies!) and I grew up very much in the garden. Playing with my sister amongst the orchards and helping with the gardening, as well as planting and caring for of all the plants, fruits and vegetables; I learnt from a young age everything to do with plants and flowers, including not just the names of the huge variety in our garden but also the amazing stories behind them all and the fascinating, alternative ways to use them, for food and also for healing purposes.
Did you draw inspiration for Rosalena from your childhoods?
When I was growing up, we had the most abundant and gorgeous Jasmine hedge at the bottom of our garden. I don’t ever remember knowing its name at the time though, but I do remember this heady smell being the soundtrack to my childhood. Happy. Carefree. Sunny. Jasmine was an ‘absolute’ must for me, creating the uplifting scent along with Patchouli which can be found in our Rock & Rose face oil. It also gives our Love & Me face oil a nurturing and gentle mood when combined with Rose and Neroli (that sunny smell of sweet orange blossom). These scents from my childhood have definitely inspired me when creating our Rosalena products.
I used to identify plants and flowers by their smell, maybe because my dyslexia made the reading and remembering of Latin information hard. My Dad even made me my own little patch in the garden filled with only the most potent smelling flowers. The heady mix of Jasmine and Philadelphis is so evocative for me still today, and I remember being especially captivated in the evening by the smell of Honeysuckles and Nicotiana, which become stronger as the sun goes down. The joy of growing and nurturing plants was therefore instilled in me at a young age.
Our family garden has always been a magical place of learning and wonder and it gave me the knowledge of, love for and respect for the power of plants. I still put the stunning blue borage flower in my ice-cubes, use docs to cure nettle stings, boil onion skin to dye egg shells at Easter time and make the longest daisy chains known to man in summer – so yes, my childhood was an important inspiration for Rosalena!
How did this all come together to create Rosalena?
Rosalena became my third child. With fair and sensitive skin, my days in the Cornish surf with my boys were often followed by frustratingly painful skin rashes. This lead me to do countless research into what products I could use to ease this. With no chemistry background, it took me a while to look into, research and read about ingredients commonly found in the products on our shelves. I was completely shocked at what we were paying to put on our skin! I really was. But luckily for us, this was the beginning of our journey. Ingredients do matter and we should have a choice. The fact is that a face oil delivers these good ingredients at a far deeper molecular level and for much longer!
It was when my youngest was at nursery that I met Maja. We got talking one day about how I couldn’t find anything I wanted to put on my skin. Everything was laden with toxic preservatives, or was price prohibitive. My science background meant I could read and understand the INCI ingredient list and know therefore that £200 for grape-seed oil was not on! And that PEGS [polyethylene glycols – petroleum based products) and parabens, no matter how hard you try to hide them with fancy words and packaging, will not benefit your skin and at worst are dangerous. So when Maja and I realised neither of us could buy what we wanted, we decided to make our own!
I should add I am not a green bean machine [as my daughter calls hippie vegan militants!] but I do respect choice. And I simply want to make better, not perfect, choices. Wine, chocolate, late nights etc, feature highly in my life. But so does making informed choices about how and when I choose, knowingly to “tox up”, and skincare is an area I choose not to!
What strengths do you individually bring to the table?
My passion and strength lies in finding a formula using science with intuition! I love face oils as they hydrate better, for longer. Creams are hydrous (contain water) so they necessitate a lot of preserving (think chemicals and parabens). We spent 2 years researching carrier oils that: 1. Worked, i.e. provided maximum skin benefit with notable affects. This meant doing huge amounts of fascinating research to find the right combinations of oils because the blending and combining has an exponential affect on their impact. 2. We wanted each ingredient to be interesting as well as efficient. We didn’t want ubiquitous oils that you can get anywhere. Rosalena was always intended to be experiential; one that you can engage with, that is more than just a skincare product and that had meaning as well as a function.
It was during this research phase, I started to study and practice Mindfulness, something very dear to my heart and continues to be a personal journey that I am passionate about. I noticed quickly that the biggest obstacle to practicing mindfulness regularly is the perceived lack of time. But given that virtually everyone I know puts something on their face twice a day, I thought, why not make this time a prompt for a regular mindful moment. In doing so I realised how important that little ritual, me time, self-love, a spiritual or mindful pause, whatever you want to call it, that little moment twice a day, had a huge impact on my overall wellbeing.
And from there we developed the concept of using skincare to increase the dialogue with holistic wellbeing.
And this is where Maja’s involvement and skill with smell, came in so usefully. Her amazing ability to blend and mix beautiful essential oils to individually characterise each of our products through their distinct aroma, has bought our products to life, giving them character and importantly, made the experience of using Rosalena and impactful as the results.
I’m quite creative by nature, dabbling in painting, life drawing, still life and gardening over the years. Realising the potential of “painting with smell” was so liberating for me. I hadn’t quite realised that how I smelled life was perhaps different to other people. Perhaps I do have a heightened ability to smell, perhaps its taking a mindful moment each day, (slowing down and taking notice of things through smell), I’m not sure, but I find it truly life changing, relaxing and beautiful to combine scents to create a story or recreate a memory or moment. I feel that the way I smell things and combine fragrances is my unique strength.
One thing that we don’t know about you?
I am a brown belt karate ninja – don’t mess with the Rosalena girls!
I’ve started taking ballet classes, it’s a great excuse to wear ballet shoes and a tutu!
What is Rosalena about to you / what does it mean to you?
I am loving the journey, learning so much (often the hard way!) everyday, with Maja the most incredible business partner and friend I could wish for. We are so aligned yet so refreshingly different, my yin to her yang! We belly laugh daily and remain loyal to our original concepts, the importance of ingredient integrity, smell, holistic well- being, respect for each other and our customers and above all having fun along the way! I’m often asked where Rosalena is going. I don’t know! We grow organically, intuitively, driven by our passion for clean beauty and that seems to be working just fine! Pause, Breathe, Be!
Rosalena means a lot to me - I couldn’t imagine a life without it! It brings me such goodness in both health and mind. It also means that I not only get to work as part of a fabulous duo with the ever dynamic and clever, laugh-out-loud Helena, but it continues to inspire and amaze me as I meet so many other inspiring, creative and genuinely wonderful people along this journey. What’s not to love?
For further information, please visit www.rosalena.co.uk