GREEN BEAUTY REVOLUTION
It took five years of original research on the finest natural, completely toxin-free ingredients, and just a decade on the market. Tata Harper’s unique skincare products, produced exclusively on her organic farm in Vermont, have taken the beauty industry by storm, gaining praises by celebrities and everyday women alike. Today, the brand keeps expanding, delivering its promises: eco-conscious, 100% natural and non-toxic but most importantly effective beauty products for every girl who takes green seriously.
Tata Harper, the visionary entrepreneur behind the sustainable luxury beauty brand, talks to the CODE Magazine.
Please tell us a few words about yourself.
A lot of people think I’m from Vermont, but I’m not. I’m Latin and from Barranquilla, Colombia. I have 3 kids, two girls and a boy. I also have 5 dogs. I’ve always been a total beauty junky for hair and skin products, but I’ve never really been into makeup or fragrance. I studied industrial engineering and I love science. My educational background gives me an understanding of the language of science which has helped me to understand formulations and ingredients.
What was the inspiration, the “a-ha moment”, behind the brand?
My stepfather was diagnosed with cancer, and through helping him change his lifestyle I started to examine everything I was putting in and on my body. I couldn’t find any natural products that gave me the results and the luxury experience I was looking for, so I set out to create my own. No one should have to sacrifice their health for their beauty.
What has this journey been like for you?
From the inception of the company, I have been unwilling to compromise or take shortcuts. If I had chosen to take the easy route or was willing to take no for an answer, Tata Harper Skincare would not be what it is today. I am always striving for the best, most innovative solution to the problem, and I won’t settle for a lesser answer.
What are the best and most challenging parts of your job?
The best part about my job is how I wake up every morning knowing that we are not just creating another serum or another moisturizer, but we are creating a serum and a moisturizer that make people’s lives better. The products we create are so complex that it gives me conviction and purpose to keep innovating and creating.
At the beginning I was laughed at; no one believed it was possible to create effective, luxurious products from natural ingredients. Now we’ve proven that it is, but the ingredients themselves can still be challenging because they are natural and unique – if there is a bad crop we might have an ingredient shortage, or the color of a product might vary slightly. Another challenge, and the reason why huge companies use synthetic chemicals, is cost. Our products are MUCH more expensive to produce than traditional prestige skincare products. More specifically, conventional ingredients (including high tech synthetic chemicals) are readily available, not as expensive, and easy to work with. Natural ingredients are not always available, they are more expensive to source, test and purchase, and are harder to work with.
What are the three most important lessons you have learned building your brand?
- Feedback from our customers is crucial to cater to their likes and dislikes so we can improve our products for their benefit.
- I have learned how important it is to surround myself with a strong team of people who I trust and have the same mission for the brand that I do.
- Never compromise or take shortcuts.
What advice do you have for women entrepreneurs or women who may be in the position that you were in 10 years ago and wanting to start a business?
Truly think about doing something that helps people live better lives, instead of making more of the same. Always think about how your work and contribution will make the world a better place. Always seek answers and be curious and care about bettering the lives of others with what you make. And, for fun….
What does the clean beauty movement mean to you?
To its core, clean beauty means using products with zero toxins. But it’s not always so straightforward. As consumers, we hear many buzzwords in the beauty industry today: non-toxic, organic, paraben and sulfate-free, to name a few. Clean beauty is about finding replacements for banned ingredients. But we go beyond that. For us, it’s about finding 100% natural and nontoxic replacements for everything.
We’re green beauty, not clean beauty. We are beyond clean and more than natural. What we do doesn’t fit into one category because we do it all. So we had to make our own category.
How is Tata Harper brand different from other clean beauty skincare brands?
We source only the highest quality ingredients and the most innovative natural technology available and include as many as we can in every formula to make our products as effective as possible. I work with our in-house team on every step of the process, from conceptualization to formulation to packaging, to create all of our products. We are completely vertically integrated, so we formulate, batch, fill, and ship all of our products from our farm in Vermont. We grow some of our ingredients on the farm organically and source the rest from around the world.
What is your favourite skincare ingredient and why?
It’s difficult to pinpoint a single ingredient that is most important to me. We believe that more matters and all of our products are packed with at least 40 ingredients. It is our key to getting more results and we are committed to finding the best organic ingredients out there.
What are your favourite Tata Harper products? And your suggestions for beginners…
Elixir Vitae Serum is my desert island product. It’s our most powerful anti-ageing solution, with 72 ingredients that target deep wrinkles and loss of volume to restore youth and plumpness to the skin. Regenerating Cleanser is the first product I use every morning – it’s a gentle exfoliator and I like to use it every day to get rid of the dead skin cells that accumulate overnight. Resurfacing Mask is my go-to after a long flight, before an event, or whenever my skin needs a pick-me-up. It’s a BHA and fruit enzyme mask that gets rid of buildup and basically gives you instantly fresh, glowy skin. Crème Riche is another must-have for me, it’s our richest moisturizer that feels like a velvety cream. I use it every night as the last step of my routine. It’s packed with antioxidants and hydrators to intensely moisturize the skin and support the skin barrier.
If you’re totally new to the brand, the best starter product that really shows you the power and gives you the experience of our brand is our Resurfacing Mask. It was one of the first products we launched, it’s our best seller and our most awarded products, and one of my personal favourites. It gives you glowing skin in just 15 minutes, it’s good for any skin type. It’s a mask that gives you a healthy glow, which is good for any age.
What are the star products of your skincare line?
I believe that all of our products are star products, but our Supernaturals collection is truly exceptional. Everyone has been talking about the same ingredients, like vitamin C and vitamin A, since the 80’s but there’s so much innovation in skincare technology, especially within naturals, that there’s no reason for products to continue sticking to the basics when there’s so much more out there.
So, our goal with Supernaturals 2.0 was to bring in as many new green technologies as we could to engineer each formula with as many potent, high-performance natural ingredients as possible – like micro and macroalgae, natural fillers, neuropeptides, and skin re-densifiers. Our Supernaturals 2.0 is a collection of 6 super-targeted products, made for people that are looking for hardworking formulas that deliver radical results.
What is a day like “in your heels”?
I wake up at 5 a.m. and the first thing I do is scan for urgent emails that have come in from the night before. By 5:30 a.m. I am in my home gym doing an hour of free weights, abs, and a lot of strength training. Exercise helps me relax and reduce stress and just makes me feel balanced and level headed. After I exercise, I love to meditate for 20 minutes while I’m alone and the house is totally quiet. Once I get the kids up and ready after my morning workout, I am off to meetings. On days that I am home and not travelling doing my classes, I have about 10-12 meetings a day. I am almost never alone, so I carve out every Monday morning to go through my email and things I need to follow up on. Tuesday mornings I meet with my assistant and we spend all morning together going through my schedule. Other than that, my day is meeting after meeting, with different teams at different times.
How do you balance a demanding work and personal life?
The key to a healthy work-life balance is to always self-evaluate and reevaluate for self-optimization. You have to reevaluate your habits, attitudes, lifestyle – everything – to try and find that happy place between work and personal life.
How do you take care of yourself?
I feel my best when I am centred, strong and focused. This really comes down to evaluating your daily habits because at its heart, wellness really is about making choices to better your life and improve your wellbeing and that encompasses everything from nutrition to sleep to beauty to exercise
If you could master any skill that isn’t related to your current job, what would it be?
I am extremely passionate about clean energy and planetary science. If I could master any skill it would be one to help me to contribute to a field that really tackles how our species can continue living on this planet without depleting all of our natural resources…what innovations can be developed, better way of doing things sustainably, etc.
What superpower would you like to have and why?
I would like to be able to eat anything I want without gaining weight, for obvious reasons.
What piece of advice has had the biggest impact on you?
One of the most important lessons [my mother and grandmother] imparted on me was to be unique and stay true to yourself. Embrace the good and the bad of my individuality.
What goal are you working towards at the moment?
Sustainability has always been a top priority for me and even though we’ve always been eco-friendly, there’s always an opportunity to do more. Right now, we’re working on developing product refills to minimize consumer waste and extend the lifespan of our packaging.
What would you like to say to your 18-year-old self?
The advice I would give my younger self is – be less self-critical. I remember growing up, I would internally criticize myself all the time – how I looked, dressed, grades, etc. I would tell my younger self to be less critical and try to enjoy every moment a little more.
TATA HARPER SKINCARE ESSENTIALS
Courtesy of Tata Harper