Wellness Week Part #2 An Interview with the lovely ladies of La Bella Figura

 

Over the past few weeks we’ve been gearing up and preparing for all things beautiful that the season of Spring brings. This week our focus is on Wellness Week which began on March 19th and runs through the 25th. Sallie Fraenkel with Spa Finder describes Wellness Week as “ marking the beginning of Spring, a season of new life and new possibilities, a perfect time to start taking charge of your health.”

This week I had the grand opportunity to sit down with the Founders of two of our brands at O&N Collective; La Bella Figura & Neom Organics.  Better health is truly beautiful – and one important aspect of taking charge of our health is to be conscious of the products we use on our skin & within our home!  It’s been said that our body’s a temple & our home is our castle; so why is it that so many of us still expose ourselves to products and ingredients that can harm us while living in our skin and homes?

We begin our week speaking with the ever-so-lovely ladies of La Bella Figura!  Founders: Victoria Fantauzzi & Karen King sat down with me to talk about their brand and what it is about life in general that not only inspires them personally but signifies the energy and gusto  the pair of them have passed on to their beautiful line of natural skin care products.

OC: You both share a love of travel and seem inspired by so many different cultures and international flare. Where are you both from originally?

VF: I was born in Chicago. My family has Spanish and Italian roots

KK: I was born and raised in Chicago

OC: Has travel always been a passion of yours?

VF: Travel has been a passion of mine since I learned to read, and read Huckleberry Finn. I remember going to summer camp and purposefully separating from the group so that I could get lost and have an adventure. It didn’t happen because I have an innately terrific sense of direction.

KK: I’ve had an obsession with France since I was a preteen.  I devoured anything French that I could get my hands on from Vanessa Paradis’ early pop albums to the opera Carmen to learning all about French sculptor Camille Claudel.  I think trying to immerse myself in a different culture early on led me to my love of travel, exploring, and above all learning about other ways of life.  Oh and growing up with Indiana Jones films definitely added to my appetite for adventure.

OC: What were you ladies doing prior to launching a skin care company and what brought you two together as Partners?

VF: We worked as artists, teachers, therapists. That’s prepared us though for this business.  Kind of.

OC: You once shared with me the inspiration of your Brands name: La Bella Figura – can you share with us again the history behind it?

VF/KK: La Bella Figura literally translates to, The Beautiful Figure, but for Italians it is a philosophy and a way of life to aspire to achieve. Everyone wants to live “La Bella Figura” a beautiful life filled with good food, wonderful friends and family, gorgeous surroundings. It’s a belief that there should be beauty in everything you strive for, even if it’s as simple as a bowl of pasta. It should be made with the best ingredients. That is a philosophy we adapted into La Bella Figura from the start.

OC: Had you always been into organic, safe, non-toxic products prior to launching the LBF line? How did your feelings evolve or change after doing the research required to launch a line of clean, organic skin care?

VF: In many ways we have been into organic living for a long time before it was even called a lifestyle. I come from a family where my Abuelita would go to three different fruit stands to find the perfect avocado. Karen is exactly the same. We laugh sometimes because we both have such high standards for quality that we’d both rather skip a meal than have a terrible one. Maybe that sounds snobbish, but I literally experience no joy in eating a tasteless strawberry and it seems so pointless in the end. A strawberry should taste like a strawberry and when it doesn’t then I’m not eating it. There was a point for me that turned everything around and it emanated from an autoimmune disorder that was complicating my sister’s young life. I wanted to help get her off of the drugs that made her worse. It made me learn a whole lot!

OC: The list of ingredients for both the Barbary Fig Renewel Serum & Decouverte are simply decadent! Many ingredients of which are unique to La Bella Figura. This is one detail that caught my eye immediately when LBF was originally introduced to O&N. Here are a few that intrigue me the most:

Barbary Fig Renewal Serum : Barbary Fig Seed Oil {aka: Prickly Pear Seed Oil} , Broccoli Seed Oil, Guava & Melissa Oil

 

Decouverte Eye Repair Serum: Barbary Fig Seed Oil {aka: Prickly Pear Seed Oil} ,Tomato Seed Oil, Coffee Bean Seed Oil & Blue Tansy Flower Oil

 

It’s like a trip to the finest farmers market known to man!  These ingredients are so unique, what special benefits caught your attention and/or encouraged you to bring them all together to create such an effective line?

VF/KK: When we decided to launch LBF we agreed that we would do what no one else was doing and that was to use ingredients because of the beneficial powers they contained to heal, repair and protect. We also wanted ingredients that were naturally sourced and sustainable. There are many well intentioned products out there, but either some folks are afraid of bringing in unusual ingredients for fear that it will push away the consumer or it’s too expensive to work with. We also wanted to make products that really worked and weren’t just hyped up promises to do things that they didn’t. We both have such a sense of responsibility that I think we would only disappoint ourselves if our products were just beautifully packaged, but didn’t work as well as we claimed.  Every single ingredient  we choose, we have researched extensively. Coffee bean oil for example has many benefits that include lipo-reducing and drainage properties, but only if it’s green coffee bean oil. Roasted coffee beans kill the potent and active compounds, cafestol and kahweol, which stimulate a detoxifying effect and help to reduce puffiness. That’s why we included it in our eye serum. We want a product like Decouverte to be well worth the money and the fact that is reduces puffiness, treats dark circles with Vitamins E and K and works like a retinol with the inclusion of rosehip seed oil rich in Vitamin A, well it’s a win, win situation and we have a huge fan base because of it. That just makes us so proud. So every ingredient is thought of in that precise way. It sometimes makes product development take forever though.

OC: Speaking about efficacy, let’s chat a bit further about the Barbary Fig Seed Oil, which seems to be the heart beat of your line. The oil actually comes from the prickly pear fruit, correct? Can you tell us more about its origin and how you first learned about this oil?

VF/KK: Barbary fig seed oil is also known by several names, prickly pear seed oil, cactus oil, desert fig seed oil, but it all comes from the seeds of the fruit of Opuntia Ficus Indica, a cactus that is grown almost everywhere where temperatures are hot and desert like. The juice of Barbary figs are currently being used in medicine all over the world to help lower hyperglycemia, treat diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, you name it! It has been used for a long time, but only now is it being respected for its long list of benefits. Berber women have long used the oil in cooking, cosmetics, and in medicine and just as argan oil was virtually undiscovered so has barbary fig seed oil been the secret of some. It is even more labor intensive to produce than argan because the seeds are so small it literally takes over a ton of seeds to produce a litre of oil. It’s also the most expensive oil on the market. You also want pure, cold pressed seeds and not macerated fruit and seeds thrown in to the mix.

OC: How is the oil extracted from these cactus fruits? Where does your oil come from?

VF/KK: The seeds are separated from the fruit and cold pressed. Our oil is EcoCert approved from a small cooperative in Tunisia. It is really only the countries of Tunisia and Morocco where you’ll find barbary fig seed oil, but not for long. This is a crop that is being used everywhere from Mexico to Argentina to India and as the demand grows so will the producers. We just hope that people don’t get fooled by macerated oil without as many benefits.

OC: I read in an article that women of Northern Africa would use Barbary Fig Seed Oil to heal and protect their skin from the hot wind and conditions of living in the desert. Can you further share with us the benefits of this seemingly nutrient rich oil?

VF/KK: Barbary fig seed oil contains a ridiculous amount of Vitamin E, more so than argan which we all know helps to fight free radicals and protect against oxidation. It is also rare in phenol content and phytochemicals that aid in collagen building and wrinkle prevention. The reason the oil is so healing is because of this unique chemistry and most anyone with dry, aging, or wrinkly skin will benefit.

OC: Why is “wild-crafted” so important when choosing an ingredient?

VF/KK: Not every essential oil or ingredient can be certified organic and there is so much controversy and political play that goes along with that depending on the country it’s being sourced from it could drive a person crazy. We feel if it can’t be certified organic, the next best thing is wild crafted because these are just plants and flowers growing wild in nature with maybe a little help from birds, bees, and humans throwing seeds on the ground. We like that.

OC: Can the Barbary Fig Renewal Serum & Decouverte be used on all types of skin?

VF/KK: Of course we want people to read our ingredient list and make sure they don’t have any allergies, but both products are effective for most skin types. If you eat broccoli, guava, pineapple, or barbary figs then it’ll very likely be fine to have those precious oils and active botanicals on your skin. BFRS is very light and blends in pretty quickly leaving super soft skin that feels balanced. The earlier one begins to care for their skin the better. We also want people that maybe didn’t do such a good job taking care of their skin by smoking, getting suntans regularly for years, or not sleeping properly to get excited because this serum is for them! The combination of actives in BFRS create a powerhouse of healing agents that will help with toning, spots, reversing oxidative stress on the tissue, and repairing damaged areas.

OC: So tell us, if you weren’t working in beauty, what would you be doing?

VF: If I could do something else with this part of the rest of my life, I’d be the female version of Anthony Bourdain, travel, write, and eat my way across the world. Maybe a little nicer though.

KK: I would be an art historian or historic preservationist working to restore precious art works or architecture in danger of being lost to history forever.

OC: What inspires you most in life? Do either of you have a favorite saying or quote that you live or work by? If so, can you share with us?

VF: I’m inspired by creative people with passion. Some people are creative, but lack passion so they live in their heads. Others are passionate, but aren’t creative so they also live in their heads. The combination is motivating and is what makes dreams come true.

VF: A favorite saying I take to heart for myself and for others is a short quote by Maya Angelou: when you know better you do better. When you don’t know that this accumulation of toxins and chemicals in our food, supplies, and products is causing sickness you tend not to do much, but as soon as you know you can’t help to take action for yourself, your kids, your community. It’s as simple as that.

OC: What makes you most proud about the LBF line?

VF: Everything!  Not one thing has been easy starting LBF and it has made us better and more determined. Try explaining what a barbary fig is to a retailer that has never heard of it before! If I had to pick one thing I’m most proud of it would be our new serum for how rich in healing power it is, but of course as we work on new products it could change tomorrow.

OC: If you had to describe La Bella Figura in 2-5 words – what would they be?

VF: Hard working and honest beauty

KK: Responsible beauty without compromise

OC: Any beauty advice for our readers?

VF/KK: Do your research, don’t be afraid of the unknown and challenge the companies that produce products from ingredients that also relate to illness. Carcinogens and pretty skin does not make sense!

OC: In closing, what’s a dream destination you haven’t been too YET!?

VF:  I don’t think I have a dream destination. It’s all kind of dreamy to me. I grew up with three other siblings and not much money so we didn’t travel much. Any place I’m lucky enough to travel to is a dream destination. It doesn’t even feel real when it’s happening only later when I’m home using my imagination to take me back and think, “I really did hike snowy trails in Cappodocia while being followed by wild dogs.” That’s a true story!

KK: There are too many places to list, but there are two places I’m dying to get to soon. The first is Seville in Spain. I found out in the last year that they have flamenco language schools. You spend half your day learning flamenco and the other half on the streets of Seville learning Spanish by talking to locals and going places. On the last day, you actually get to perform with a local troupe. The other place that I can’t wait to get to is Cartagena, Columbia. It’s thick with history, art, romance, and from what I heard, some of the warmest and most fantastic people on earth.

Ah, Cartagena – I missed out on a trip to Columbia years ago and I’ve been dying to go ever since!  Gotta make it happen, right Karen!? I loved speaking with these wonderful ladies of LBF. Their passion, intrigue, vision, creativity, and commitment to clean beauty flows through the entire LBF line!  Does their brand embody, as the Italians would say “La Bella Figura”, absolutely! Semplicemente Bella “simply beautiful”! Yes, indeed.

To learn more about La Bella Figura’s line of products visit: https://www.oandncollective.com/brands/la-bella-figura

Thank you Victoria & Karen   

            

      Victoria  Fantauzzi                              Karen King                            

                                                

                                      Prickly Pear Fruit

 Rave Reviews:

You Beauty:

http://www.youbeauty.com/skin/galleries/natural-skincare-ingredients#9

The Zoe Report:

http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=6be10d1bca608f5731d4a3040&id=324d217b01&e=590e8e8cb3

Be well~ Organic Contessa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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