At MINTD Box we get ample opportunities to collaborate with innovative and inspiring brands with founders that go against the grain to create great products that we wonder how we possibly managed without them previously. That is exactly the case with Albiva’s founder Ivana Iesini. Her range unleashes the body’s natural ability to heal itself, creating products that organic and toxin free to restore balance.
Inspired by her grandmother who was a herbalist, her products take us back to nature. Powered by science, as we would expect by someone with a background as impressive as Ivana’s, Albiva products are designed to contribute to overall wellness.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Ivana and find out more about her experience and influences as well as the importance of organic and holistic products.
Where does the name ALBIVA come from and what inspired you to create a skincare range?
“The natural healing force in each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.” Hippocrates
My strong belief in body’s self-healing ability was the genesis for ALBIVA. Being diagnosed with a spinal tumour and undergoing extensive back surgery at the age of 28‚ I drew on this belief during my lengthy recovery. Conventional medicine was making me ill and so I looked towards natural remedies. I started looking at reducing the levels of toxins I put in and on my body and embracing organic as a way of life.
Growing up in the region of former Kingdom of Bohemia (Regnum Bohemiae®) I was introduced to the regenerative‚ healing and adaptive power of nature by my beloved grandmother Albina (Inspiration for the brand’s name ALBIVA. Alba also means clean‚ pure in Spanish) form a very early age.
My grandmother was a herbalist‚ who would rinse my hair with her home-made organic nettle rinse to make it thicker and shiny. After I suffered some nasty burns‚ she treated them with ointment from lily flower to prevent formation of scars. I remember fondly walking through fields with her teaching me to recognise plants and their medicinal properties‚ yarrow for healing wounds‚ dill for digestion‚ comfrey for skin irritations (I remember her using it on me for bites and acne)‚ and so on.
My love of science can be traced to my childhood. I was‚ however‚ always interested in the deeper understanding of things‚ not only how the body repairs a cut but also why does it speed up it’s healing after applying yarrow‚ or wild thyme. I studied biomedical sciences to understand better the biochemical processes of our bodies and briefly worked in microbiology laboratory‚ before ending up analysing and trading essential oils.
During my post surgery recovery and focus on regaining wellness‚ I realised being healthy isn’t a fad or a trend‚ but a lifestyle. The idea for ALBIVA was born and took a further 10 years to develop. I studied and took inspiration from Ayurveda‚ where the whole body is assessed to treat a problem. My idea was to create products that contribute to overall wellness of the body‚ to help restore balance‚ to nourish and heal.
As our largest organ‚ the skin is the most visible reflection of the state of person’s health. It is also a reflection of the nervous system‚ because it originates from the same embryonic tissue that gave birth to this system during gestation‚ and also has a connection with the digestive tract and kidneys. Skin is also crucial for eliminating toxins from our bodies.
I have therefore launched ALBIVA with focus on treating this largest organ through products that go beyond beauty and skincare. I set to create a next generation products that harness nature through science. Using purest natural and organic ingredients from sustainable sources.
What did your grandmother teach you about the healing processes?
My grandmother taught me that people are interconnected with nature, that medicinal herbs are just one of the ingredients needed for healing. It is also important where and when the herbs are collected (and which part of the herb) and how they are handled/processed. I have applied this knowledge, for example, to include Gemmotherapy extracts in our products which specialises in isolating active ingredients from young, in our case 4 to 5 days old plants. We also use cold processing technology during the manufacturing process to retain the highest level of nutrients.
Who are your products aimed at and why?
Rather than focusing on any skin type, age group or gender, ALBIVA’s products are designed to activate the skin’s natural ability to repair itself and empower our customer to use and combine our products as they need them.
As we see increased crossover between beauty, health, wellness, nutrition and fitness, what we put on our bodies becomes just as important as what we put in. Consumers are starting to recognise the wellness benefits of their beauty products and are seeking a much more holistic approach to beauty and treatments. This is why what we leave out of our products is just as important as what we put in – pure and sustainable ingredients with no harmful additives.
I developed the brand for those who want natural products and seek to avoid unwanted, questionable ingredients but who expect cosmeceutical results and won’t compromise on efficacy or luxury. A customer who refuses to risk their health for beauty. At ALBIVA we push the boundaries of science, nature and technology, creating products that make a real difference – not only to make skin beautiful but also keep our customers healthy and improve their quality of life.
Your products are plant-powered and sustainable, what was the reasoning for this and how important are those same values to you in your personal life?
I have started ALBIVA with the opportunity and passion to do things differently – especially when it came to sustainability, placing it at the core of the company. From our beautiful wooden bottles that carry PEFC mark (sustainable forestry), packaging made from hand-made paper that is not plastic coated, to using high quality natural and organic ingredients from sustainable sources, sustainability, waste reduction, reducing carbon footprint and taking care of the Earth is at the heart of what we do. We also donate £1 from the sale of every product to charity. Our customers can be sure that they are not only paying for the highest quality ingredients on the market, but that these ingredients have been bought with the greatest consideration. As one of my favourite proverbs state: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”, I personally believe it is our responsibility to cherish what remains of our nature and foster its renewal, and in the process be the best we can be. I have therefore carried my own personal values through the brand, making sure when sourcing our sustainable ingredients we integrate not only the environmental, but also the social and ethical factors and that issues such as natural resource depletion and environmental degradation are well considered. In short, I wanted to go above and beyond of what is currently considered a norm.
You have a background in science, how has this informed your products, from research and design to application and results?
During the R&D stage I focused on stimulating and supporting our skin’s biochemical processes at the cellular level. We explored how certain active ingredients affect cellular dynamism, communication and signalling and cellular biomechanical functions to activate our skin’s natural ability to repair itself and boost the natural process of restoring collagen and elastin resulting in healthy, youthful and firm skin. (*read more below, I’m sure it’s too much info hence I have placed below in case there is an interest to read further)
We also use state-of-the-art technologies and the latest science, such as: Gemmotherapy, botanical extracts encapsulated into plant liposomes, bio-fermentation, bio-enzymatic processing, cold processing technology to deliver products that go beyond just the skin’s surface. Natural cosmetics have been perceived in the past as not active. Nowadays, we can use state-of-the-art technology not only to isolate active substances directly from nature, but also to get these substances into the skin layers where they matter, for example by encapsulation.
The competition in the field of natural cosmetics is currently very strong. But I think that ALBIVA stands out mainly because we are not just natural cosmetics. We differ mainly in that we are a natural cosmetics brand where our customers see results (we are results driven).
Your products are known for not using ‘fillers’. What are fillers and why have you chosen to bypass them from your products?
Every ingredient that we include in our products is there for a specific reason. We do not use fillers, meaning that almost every ingredient in our products is an “active” ingredient. This results in pure, highly concentrated and effective formulas. Most products on the market contain 85-95% water (aqua), so you see it first on the list of ingredients. Our products are formulated without water (therefore the development took so long) and instead the product base is antioxidant raspberry water (certified bio / organic by COSMOS). We are all about delivering high levels of effective, potent ingredients, and utilising the best that science and nature can deliver.
What are your key components to a good skincare routine?
Commitment and Consistency are key to good skin.
Establishing a simple and stable skincare regimen will make all the difference. I recommend at least 3 basic products to use: a good quality cleanser, moisturiser and broad-spectrum SPF.
Layering on too many products can be a stressful challenge for your skin and potentially do more harm than good.
Products, and therefore active ingredients, overload have the potential to counteract each other, irritate the skin or cause inflammation.
Switching between too many products leads to inconsistent routines, product waste and a potential difficulty in evaluating the product’s efficacy.
We recommend fewer, high quality products. When it comes to skincare, more isn’t always better. And consistency really is the key.
What is your favourite product in the range?
It is really hard to choose as I have developed every product to make a real difference to the end user, but I wouldn’t be without our Nourishing Cleanser. Thoughts like “Investing in cleansers is just like washing money down the drain.” or “Put the cash you save on cleansers to better use by spending it on products that can make a real difference in your skin, like moisturisers, sunscreens, and serums” are a common misconception.
A good quality cleanser will remove makeup, dirt, pollution and grime without compromising your skin’s protective barrier. Thoroughly cleansed skin will allow your moisturisers and serums to reach their full potential. An evening cleanse will support the skin in its overnight regeneration and renewal processes.
What would be your one key piece of advice to female founders?
Persevere and never give up.