Q & A with Anca Grigoras, founder of Metta Skincare

Beauty is a transient thing and I don’t believe that a model that is famous is more beautiful in real life than a woman walking in the street. For me beauty is the happiness that a person radiates from within, the sense of positive energy and kindness that some of the women who are considered beautiful by society don’t necessarily have. That’s why I always look for women who are creative and passionate & who don’t follow the traditional path. So without further ado, let me introduce Anca Grigorasfounder of Australian brand Metta Skincare.

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I first came across Metta Skincare images on Instagram and looking at them made me feel curious and positive in equal measure. Since then I have built up a very interesting dialogue with Anca and have become a big fan of her products that smell as good as they make my skin and senses feel. Below are the Q & A that Anca and I offer to you and shortly I will follow this post with a review of Metta Skincare, so enjoy meeting Anca and learning about her products, approach to life and beauty.

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GAP: Please tell me a little bit about yourself and your career path prior to starting Metta Skincare.

AG: Metta Skincare emerged at the intersection of two important areas in my life. I have been passionate about natural healthy living for as long as I can remember.  My grandparents came from families with a very long farming tradition and had a deep understanding and respect for living in harmony with nature. My father is a doctor with a very strong interest in traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture and I remember as a child being totally fascinated by some of the healing principles he was using in his practice. So from a very young age I learnt that looking after our own health is one of the most important things we can do and that true health means living in harmony with our world and relying not only on science, but also on ancient wisdom and natural remedies. My professional path later on led to a career in occupational health and safety and it was during this time that the idea for Metta Skincare first emerged. I was involved in a project aimed at reducing chemical exposure at work and was very concerned to learn that most people are exposed to many more harmful chemicals in their homes than at work. This was a huge turning point in my life – by that stage, I had already developed the habit of reading the ingredient list on every food item I was buying, or even better still, buying my food directly from the people who grew it. But I hadn’t thought of paying the same attention to my skincare products – I had somehow been lulled into the false safety of believing that all the so-called natural products I was using were free from synthetic and harmful ingredients. I then started researching and formulating my own products based on natural, organic, food-grade ingredients, which eventually led to the development of the current Metta Skincare range.

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GAP: What inspired creation of Metta and the name of your brand?

AG: After spending over a decade working in the corporate world, I wanted to create a business focused on doing good for everyone involved: customers, suppliers, communities, our planet. Metta means loving kindness and it’s an ancient form of meditation that encourages a deep sense of connection with the world and sharing compassionate thoughts towards all living beings. Metta Skincare shares much with this form of meditation: it starts by encouraging an act of kindness towards self (looking after our skin using completely natural, non-harmful products) and then expands the circles of compassion by using ingredients ethically sourced directly from growers and by contributing to projects aimed at the eradication of poverty.

GAP: What makes Metta products different from other natural brands?

AG: I believe that effective natural skincare shares much with healthy food: pure, wholesome, nourishing ingredients. It’s the purity, freshness and quality of ingredients that make the product highly effective. To achieve this with Metta products we have partnered with a trusted network of local and international artisan growers. Our oils come from farms where crops have been grown in harmony with the local soil and climate conditions and farming techniques have been honed over many generations to nurture the health of soil, plants and people as a thriving ecosystem. The oils are cold pressed on site immediately after harvest, which ensures maximum nutrient concentration and potency.

GAP: Can you tell me a little bit about each of your six products and what makes each of them special ?

AG: Hand Balm – the skin on our hands can often get dry or age prematurely due to the fact that it is constantly exposed to harsh elements (soap, detergents, wind, sun, etc). The Hand Balm protects the skin with a deeply moisturising blend of olive oil and shea butter, while the calendula helps heal minor tears and cracks which often happen when skin gets too dry and sensitive.

Lip Balm is based on a special combination of oils which have been traditionally used for centuries to protect the skin from the damaging effects of strong heat, wind or cold.

Face Balm is an intensive night-time treatment designed to not only replenish moisture and restore suppleness, but also to deliver a powerful combination of vitamins and antioxidants (from pomegranate, raspberry and seabuckthorn oils) to help prevent free radical damage, which is one of the leading causes of premature skin ageing.

Body Oil is a very versatile product – primarily designed as a moisturiser, it can also be used as a massage or bath oil, or mixed with sugar or salt for a very simple yet effective polish.

When I created the Body Butter I envisaged it would be an open invitation to set aside the worries of the day and take a few moments to reconnect with ourselves – to breathe in either the soothing and relaxing scent of lavender or the sweet and happy vanilla and envelop our skin in a rich elixir that feels both nourishing and comforting.

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GAP: Can you share any special tips on using each or some of the Metta Skincare products?

AG: As with any oil-based products, it’s important to remember that only a very small pea-sized amount is necessary for each application. Allow a few moments for the product to melt upon contact with the skin and then gently massage it in.

GAP: What are the most special ingredients in your products or the ones that you are excited about at the moment?

AG: It would be very hard to choose just one because I only work with ingredients that I absolutely love and am very excited about! When creating the range I spent a long time choosing a special combination of ingredients for each product, based on their unique skin nourishing properties and on their ability to combine synergistically into a complete sensory experience.

GAP: Why was it important for you to have recyclable packaging?

AG: One of the core principles for Mettā Skincare is that every small action we take can have a huge impact on the world. Disposable packaging has become such an ubiquitous part of our lives nowadays that it’s easy to forget the consequences this has on the environment. So when choosing the packaging for the range I wanted it to be respectful of the environment – and this is not limited to the recyclable jars. Mettā labels are printed on a special type of paper made from limestone (collected from existing quarries) which is completely tree-free and made using no acid and less water than conventional paper manufacturing. And the swing tags are printed on cotton paper, made from a by-product of the textile industry that would otherwise end up in landfill.

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GAP: Do you use products by other brands and if the answer is yes, are there any that you can recommend or the ones that you think complement your products?

AG: I love trying new products! Because we’re in the middle of summer here I couldn’t live without the new coconut sunscreen by Eco Tan (http://www.ecotan.com.au)  and I absolutely love the new natural lipstick range by Nudus (http://nudus.com.au).

GAP: What have been the biggest challenges & lessons learnt when building your own business?

AG: When you are starting out in business there are new challenges every day. For me the most important lesson so far has been about perseverance. Whenever I think of this I am reminded of one of my favourite quotes from Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture. I believe this applies so well to anyone in the early stages of building a business: ‘The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something because they are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They are there to stop other people.”

GAP: What’s next for Metta skincare, do you plan to add any other products to the existing line?

AG: Certainly – we have some exciting new developments planned for 2015 and are looking forward to sharing news about them shortly.

GAP: For people new to Metta, what product would you recommend to start the discovery of your skincare products with?

AG: For people who are new to using oils, I would recommend the Lip and Hand Balms as the first products to try – they are a good introduction to the range and very easy to include in an existing daily skin care routine.

For those already familiar with oils but willing to experiment with different textures, I would recommend trying the Body Butter.

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 GAP: Is there anyone in the beauty industry that inspires you ?

AG: One of the reasons why I love discovering new products is because I am always inspired by other natural beauty formulators. As consumers we tend to classify skincare products accordingly to their use ( cleanser, moisturiser, etc ) or the skin type they were designed for (dry, oily, mature, etc). But the truth is that each product is unique and each formulator will put their own creative mark on the specific ingredient combination they have chosen.

 GAP: You clearly favour balms over creams, serums etc. Why ?

AG: For many years I struggled with very dry skin, especially on my hands, and could not find a product that would provide the desired relief. Balms work very well at healing and restoring optimal moisture levels in the outer layer of skin, which I think is absolutely crucial for ensuring that the skin is able to absorb all the good nutrients we feed it through a healthy diet and all the wonderful skincare products we apply topically.

 GAP: As it is winter, do you have any beauty tips for that tricky season for the skin ?

AG: Winter can be particularly trying on the skin, especially for the hands and face, because they get exposed to all those environmental factors we don’t particularly like about this season: cold, wind, rain, snow, etc. To make matters worse, the air in our homes and offices often gets too dry because of heaters, and all this can result in very unhappy, dry and dull looking skin. My favourite winter beauty must-haves are: mild gentle cleansers free from soap and alcohol ( I’m a huge fan of the oil cleansing method ), good quality oil-based moisturisers for the entire body and hydrating from the inside ( herbal teas are my favourite winter beverage ). Long, hot showers or baths can feel very comforting but will only dry out the skin further, so it’s best to keep the temperature and duration down. And for those struggling with very dry skin in winter using an air humidifier may help.

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 GAP: Do you vary your skincare routine depending on the seasons?

AG: Broadly speaking, I find that I tend to exfoliate more often and have more frequent deep cleansing sessions during summer. But I’m a huge believer in the fact that our skin responds to so many factors in our life – physical environment, diet, water intake, stress levels, sleep, hormones, etc – and so its needs will change on a daily basis. So I think that being able to tune in to our bodies and adjust our skincare routine according to our individual needs is much more important than adhering to a very strict beauty regime.

For more information about Metta Skincare click here

Professional photography by Mark Lobo http://www.marklobo.com.au ; Art direction & styling by Spencer Harrison http://www.spenceroni.com

Categories: Beauty & well-being, Interviews

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