Nordstrom Fashion Valley held a self-care summit hosted by Regional Beauty Director Cindy Tjon, featuring several beauty business execs and entrepreneurs: Trista Okel, founder of Empower BodyCare; Kiana Cabell, co-founder of Kopari Beauty (La Jolla local); Chanel Jenae, founder of Arcona and aesthetician.
Cindy spoke about how we are all so busy, especially moms like herself, and how her two daughters inspire her own self care, to set good examples for them and showing how we all need to take time for ourselves. “Self care doesn’t mean you’re selfish, am I right?”
What does self care mean to you?
Trista said self care means making sure you are replenished so that you can give to others. Most of us spend a lot of time giving to others, so in order to do that best, we need to make sure that we are fulfilled and built up for ourselves. “For me, I like to take a lot of baths. That’s the main way I do self care. I work like 80 hours a week so finding a way to add self care into my routine is a challenge. Getting great sleep by taking a hot bath at night works wonders for me, as well as exercise.”
Kiana said like many women she has a lot going on, a lot of work to do and roles to juggle, such as having your own brand in addition to having a two-year-old and being pregnant. Self care to her is finding that time to have the escape moments. For her it’s yoga, massage, going to bed early though she doesn’t have a consistent self care routine, taking time to escape when she can. “Taking those moments to take time for yourself to then be able to give back to others and be the best version of you.”
Chanel said it’s about creating balance in her life so she makes an effort to take time for herself. Meditation is one form of self care she enjoys to de-stress. “I do think you have to fill up your own cup before you can fill up other people’s cup and women, inevitably, take care of people, it is intuitive. The work I do is about educating and so it seems right to do the same for myself. Meditation, yoga, peloton – it’s easy and available and right there. That has helped a lot with energy and feeling better.”
How do you incorporate self care into your travel routine?
Trista said getting a good night’s sleep is the number one key for her, as well as finding time for exercise. “So I go to bed early, which makes me super fun,” she said. She also eats clean, which is a challenge on the road but she researches a few restaurants before she arrives so she can easily accomplish that. She also continues her skincare and bodycare routine.
Cindy said packing your workout clothes is like telling yourself don’t forget about you, when you travel.
Chanel says she also researches restaurants to make sure she eats good, clean food with good reviews. She makes time for skincare rituals. Making time for exercise by getting up earlier is really helpful for depressing. “Making time for yourself and not letting anyone else’s needs get in the way of yourself, which sounds totally selfish but I think you get the point of where I’m going with that.”
Kiana said when travel is for work, take time to soak in the environment and sightsee a bit. She’s a foodie as well. “So I also like to do food research but maybe not the healthiest food, but the yummiest food.” She also carries the rose toner on the plane to combat dryness, and the scents of her body care products make her feel like a quick shower can be self care.
Are there any other skincare rituals that you have?
Trista said she keeps it pretty simple with exfoliation and moisturizing then she’s good to go. “I put on a little lipstick, and, done.”
Kiana says she keeps it pretty simple, too. “If it’s an 8 step routine, you lose me there.” She likes her new infrared sauna which is not necessarily skincare but it does detox the whole body. She also likes occasional masks.
Chanel says she multi-cocktails her serums and really likes to take the time to take care of her skin. She simplifies by mixing things together so there are less steps. Cindy asked about the facial massage she gives in her studio, Chanel thinks facial massage is really important especially since previous aestheticians were focused on “blasting your face off” and lasers, etc. for so long and now massage is back again.
Are there certain women who have influenced your self care routine and feelings?
Trista said she has a few mentors and advisors for her business that actually advise her on lots of things, including self care. She’s been working on meditation, which is helpful though she is finding it very hard. “These women are CEOs so having them remind me to remind myself to take care of myself during the journey of this business has been really valuable to me.”
Chanel went to a meditation retreat and spoke about going back to one mantra, one word, keep going back to it to remind you you’re there to focus. Her grandma was a big skincare mentor for her, watching her do her regime at night. Her mom had foresight with enforcing sunscreen hearing before it was popular. She recommends using the apps to guide you, such as Insight Timer and following David Ji.
Kiana said she was at a leadership summit and one takeaway was meditation so she’s been trying it, too.
Cindy says also reminding herself to do what she says she’s going to do. Breathe, slow down, take a breathe, it’s fine. Those moments when you notice a beautiful sky, little things to help you appreciate life.
Tell us about Empower.
In 2004, Trista’s mom fell and broke her back and needed surgeries that had complications. Trista wanted to keep her off of opiates for as long as possible and heard that cannabinoid-infused products could be useful for pain. Trista was an aromatherapist at the time and did a deep dive into the formulation. She made her first product, the oil, which took her mom’s pain from an 8 done to a 3. That got her excited and she wondered if those results were repeatable with people other than her mom. For the first 3-4 years, she was shocked every time people said they worked for them. Getting those responses over and over again got her excited for this side gig at the time.
In 2013 she launched into the medical marijuana market in Oregon (a great place to do it, she said), and she got to help a lot of people. She kept hearing about amazing results. In 2014 she launched the CBD brand, which went a little slower since the general population didn’t understand what CBD was yet. Eventually she got into Sprouts and similar store, and last year her luxe line got into Nordstrom.
“I’m not making claims, I’m just telling you about testimonials I get every day, and I have to edit those testimonials really heavily. People report on all the things our products are helping them with and because of FDA rules we can’t really put that out there.”
Condy mentioned Trista’s background was studying chemistry and the going into journalism and living in Oregon, so this brand made sense now. Her CBD products are THC free, which Trista explained. “The only difference between hemp and marijuana is the percentage of THC, whether it is above or below .3%. That legal definition is literally the only thing that separates the two plants. Most consumers don’t want THC.” She explained how CBD signals to the brain to reduce or stop pain signals, when absorbed through the skin, according to pre-clinical studies. “When you apply CBD locally, it interacts with a few receptors in the central nervous system. One receptor’s job is to balance the skin and reduce inflammation. it also works with a few enzymes whose jobs are also to reduce inflammation. So by reducing inflammation, you get pain relief and helps with skin trauma such as eczema, psoriasis, and red skin.”
Soil is also important to consider when comparing CBD. The cannabis plant is a bio-accumulator, a plant that takes the toxins from the soil and takes it into the plant, so sourcing of hemp is really important. They planted hemp at Chernobyl and found it was removing radiation from the soil. So Trista said it was important to source the plan properly, for example, in Canada, there are heavy metals from the spoil. When you do an extraction those can become more concentrated in the extra. They source from a USDA certified organic small farm in Oregon and they also have every batch of product tested by a 3rd-party lab that has been testing cosmetics for 25 years, testing for potency, consistency in product, heavy metals, pesticides, solvents, micro-biological activity. “Transparency for us is super important. And we don’t want to use anything that comes from dirty soil.”
Kiana, can you tell us about your upbringing and what led you to Kopari?
Kopari is centered around coconut, and growing up in Hawaii, Kiana drank coconut water, used coconut oil, it’s very abundant and part of the culture there. She attended a natural food school in New York with the intent to launch a coconut product which she always thought would be a food product since she is such a foodie at heart, she said. After the program she was working on somethings and it was really complicated with a lot of obstacles with the science side of foods that are better for you. She was still using the same jar of coconut oil in the kitchen and as body care for everything, and noticed in the food industry there was a huge awareness growing around coconut oil. She started seeing coconut oil and water everywhere. She had an aha moment one day to created a beauty product around coconut oil, and also noticed a lot of editors and bloggers talking about the benefits of coconut oil at that time. That’s what inspired her to start the brand, right before the era of clean beauty started, they launched in 2015.
“We wanted to create beauty products that performed really well, that made you feel good, that really were effective. A lot of products in the clean world didn’t have that performance, so that was really important to us. And the base of the product is coconut oil and we kick it up a notch by adding other natural ingredients that enhance the benefits and properties.” They also use the coconut water, shell, milk, and more.
Why is clean beauty important to you?
Kiana said it is important because the beauty industry isn’t really regulated, there are so many chemicals and toxins in traditional beauty products. It’s important to know what you’re putting on your body because your skin absorbs so much for it. “For me, and I have a daughter and I’m pregnant, I think it about doing better. I think it is a slow and steady thing for me personally.” Cindy agreed it’s hard to do it cold turkey, make everything clean. Kiana said some people overdo it and feel like they are failing and go the other way, so she’d rather be slow and steady to be successful.
Can you talk about where and how you sustainably source your coconuts for your product?
Kiana said where they source coconuts is important. It’s important to her to get the top-notch premium coconuts, unlike grocery store coconut oil. The best quality coconut oil is from the Philippines because the government has been regulating the soil for centuries so there is no trace amount of heavy metals. It’s the cleanest, purest source. “Our retail team tested jars of coconut oil recently so I went to Whole Foods and bought a bunch. You line them up and you really notice the difference. Ours is so much whiter and purer, it smaller stronger and more luxurious, and the way it absorbs, all those things make a difference in the quality.” Last year they visited the farmers to see where it was harvested and the whole process, and they were able to give back to the farmers by building twenty homes for them and continuing to do outreach. It’s something they’ve always done but didn’t talk about until recently, noticing it was something special that people liked that aspect, so they are planning to build twenty more homes.
“That goes with the self-care notion, too. Last year I was wanting to give back, to feel good about myself as well,” Kiana said.
What are your hero products?
The Coconut Melt they launched with that can be used for hair mask, shaving cream, bath oil, moisturizer, makeup remover, and more. The deodorant is a show-stopper and a product they are known for now, with over 5000 5 star reviews. Kiana’s favorite is the sudsy shower oil, which has a great lather and hydration and scent.
Chanel, you studied herbology, acupressure, and alternative medicine, how do you apply that to Arcona?
Chanel said, “I always tie it to healthy skin. I got my aesthetician license my senior year of high school, so I really, truly followed my heart and my passion. I wanted to create products and treatments that were results-oriented and that’s what we became known for. We wanted our at-home care to be an extension of our treatments. We feel very strongly that everything you are putting on the body you are putting in the body. The skin is very permeable. So we’ve always been a big fan and believer of leaving out things that don’t benefit the skin, petrochemical, parabens, synthetic fragrances and dyes. We think the focus and beauty of our product is the high concentration of actives that we use in a formula and how it is actually going to get into the skin. So we don’t heat process, which most manufacturers do use. When you heat process or build a vegetable, in cooking, you’re really destroying all the enzymes. Enzymes are nature’s own cleanser, it naturally decomposes dead skin and helps regenerate skin naturally. So we load up our product with a high concentration of actives that have been clinically-demonstrated to change how the skin looks. It’s a nice combination of taking the very best from nature and combining it with the very best from science.”
They were one of the first beauty companies to use cold processing, it is a pharmaceutical technique that allows the ingredients to get deeper into the top layers of the skin, prompting more cell renewal and collagen production, with less inflammation. “We want to strengthen the skin from the inside out,” she said.
You are super busy, you’ve got your spa, supporting events, you still see a lot of customers, your brand…
“I wear a lot of hats but I have an incredible team of people that work with me who are so good at what they do. I think that has been my knack or my gift is to really surround myself with people who are far more talented and creative and better at what they do that I am. You can only do so much. It’s about balance,” Chanel said.
She still sees a lot of clients because she loves the aesthetics, and also works in the corporate offices and our in the field. She said she feels super lucky that she gets to do what she loves and that resonates with people every day. “I think that if you can find your passion in your life and follow your heart, the rest will come,” she said.
What is the biggest mistake you see when you are advising people about skin care?
Under cleansing, over-moisturizing, and not using SPF. Products will function better on clean skin. Chanel recommends double cleansing. Fluorescent lighting, blue lighting, also damages the skin.
Do you have a favorite product?
Eye Dew Plus, an eye cream with liquid crystals for luminescence, retinol, peptides, and ceramide to restore the thin skin around the eye area. She users it on her whole face when she flies to prevent dehydration.
Is there a product or two that anyone can incorporate into their skin care routine without changing what else they use?
Chanel said the Triad pads, which was originally for the designer Donna Karan who wanted something simple to take on a trip to cleanse, tone, and hydrate all in one. It works on all skin types, she said.
Someone with arthritis has been wanting to try CBD but unsure where to get it, what to do, and do you have to put it on every part that hurts?
“Yes, it only works where you apply it, you can’t put it on your hand to help your neck,” Trista said.
As a woman or a particular age, skin with melanin, what to use to moisturize?
Chanel said to try to moisturize from within with fats, water, such as a smoothie to get the most nutrition as fast as possible, such as flaxseed, spinach, blueberries, almond butter or avocado, and vital proteins. From a topical standpoint, oils are great by have limitations so look for things like hyaluronic acid to help boost moisture. People don’t exfoliate enough, though not talking about being aggressive scrubbing, get that dead layer off using enzymatic exfoliation then the moisturizer will work better.
Cindy said it is about being consistent, too. She is busy. Chanel said yes, consistency is key, you are going to be too tired at 11pm so do your skin care right when you get home. Cindy gets the first step started in the car after work or the gym using the Triad pads in the car.
What is the best way to exfoliate dark skin?
Chanel said manual exfoliation can be irritating, her resurfacing serum is lactic and glycolic acid which she uses twice a week and in the morning she uses an enzymatic exfoliator. It’s key to have the skin more moisturized, exfoliate in a way that won’t irritate the skin, she said.
Everyone on the panel has nice hair, even the surfer, what is the product you use as a mask?
Kopari Coconut Melt, Kiana uses it in her hair once or twice a week, for 30 minutes or overnight, then wash twice. She washes her hair every day so this mask help combat that.
Cindy likes the product because she doesn’t want to waste product, if it’s on her face it goes on her hands, if it’s in her hair the leftover goes on her hands.
For shampoo, Kopari doesn’t have it yet, Kiana recommends Living Proof and Cindy says the consultant downstairs at Nordstrom can help.
Tell us about oil pulling for healthier teeth and gums?
Kopari has coconut oil pullers, Kiana is obsessed with doing it, in the shower, it is almost meditative. She said it’s a little weird at first, the coconut oil melts in your mouth and you swish it around and spit it out. “Five minutes is better than no minutes so don’t let it be daunting,” she said, you can work your way up to 15 minutes. She said it makes you mouth feel cleaner. 98% notice the teeth are whiter, and so much bacteria comes from your mouth that moves through your body so it’s a way to helps to draw out the toxins like a magnet.
You have to find the right time to do it. Probably not when your husband is trying to talk to you, she joked. She said in the shower is a good routine.
Trista said sounds like ag great way to get mediation in, too.
A nurse wanted to offer products to her cancer and diabetes patients, since she is starting a beauty class for them in South Bay with the main issue of dry skin. How safe are the products for extremely dry skin?
Trista said a lot of cancer patients have used her products and had great results in moisturizing and pain relief. She’d give her samples afterward.