Q+A WITH SUSANNE FOUNDER OF MAYA CHIA
Every Founder of an independent beauty brand has their story and it’s one of my very favorite things to be able to share it with the Beauty Heroes community. Starting a beauty company is not for the faint of heart. There is a lot of competition, it’s hard and even almost impossible to really stand out. So, when a new company emerges and makes a collection of products that work differently than anything else, it makes me pause.
Independent, or Indie, beauty is about having a passionate approach to beauty that includes lifestyle, community, sustainability and quality. It has a heart and soul, much like Susanne Norwitz who has developed Maya Chia beauty with a sense of wonder and an independent spirit that is reflected in her product line. Leading up to our collaboration for this month’s Hero product selection, we had many conversations about ingredients, formulation, scent and innovation. One theme we kept coming back to is that nature is a master of innovation. And I believe, Susanne created a masterpiece with her Hero product, The Super Couple. However, as I hope you too will discover, the magic does not end there. Each product in the Maya Chia line holds its own due to the power of high-quality supercritical chia oil. With Susanne’s newest releases of The Super Blend and The Highlight of the Day following in The Super Couple’s footsteps of high potency formulation, scent perfection, and performance, I personally can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. I hope you will enjoy getting to know more about this very special beauty brand Founder and can feel the passion poured into each Maya Chia bottle.
What are your origins in creating Maya Chia?
I was undergoing a detox, and as part of the detox, they recommended chia seeds as part of my diet. When I read the back of the package and looked at the nutritional content, I was floored. Everything I knew about what we should be eating to have healthier skin was there.
How did you learn the art of formulating?
I’d like to tell you that I’m a wonderful chef – that it’s a natural by-product of my artistry in the kitchen. But that wouldn’t be honest. I’m a terrible cook, but I have no passion for it. On the other hand, since I was a wee babe I’ve always had a passion for skincare and skin. You know how they say you can taste the love that the chef had when they cooked a meal? I hope that our consumers feel the love we poured into those bottles.
When it’s time to create/develop a new product, how do you begin?
Research. Research. Did I say research?? My nerdy comes out in spades when I gear up to create a product. But always, the question driving the creation – how can we make something that really addresses this problem in a way that’s novel and will make a real impact – otherwise, what’s the point in launching a me-too product. We want to create the best for our customers.
How often do you make a new product? How long does that process take? Do you begin with an ingredient or an objective?
We haven’t been around that long, so it’s difficult to say how frequently we create a new product or provide a prescriptive response about how long it takes. But we always start with the objective: to create the best… (fill in the blank) that we possibly can.
I will say it took us 172 iterations to get the formula right for the Super Blend. I would wake up in the middle of the night and surf the Internet until dawn scoping out the best ingredients I could find. It sounds maddening, but it’s really a passion – so it’s fun (for me, not my poor partner). : -)
What’s been your biggest discovery in terms of the creative process/in creating a new product?
When we put astaxanthin in the Super Couple face oil the color was this brilliant coral color. At first, I consulted with some people who thought it might not be a wise idea because customers were used to a golden color oil – or at least an oil not as vivid. But we knew the power of this ingredient and wanted to charge ahead anyway. The unanticipated, collateral benefit was that the brilliant hue imparts a beautiful glow instantly, in a very subtle way – and customers have loved that aspect of the face oil.
Do you have a mantra or guiding principle? Can you tell us how this is important in your work?
When you are led by a passion for what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. – I’m paraphrasing a quote here, from someone somewhere, and not doing them justice, I’m afraid
What do you love most about Chia Oil?
I love that it is a powerful nutrient-rich oil – yet lightweight and absorbs immediately. It’s all about results and effectiveness, and supercritical chia oil produces that in spades.
Can you share some of the details on how you source your ingredients sustainably?
We take very seriously the suppliers we work with, and that they place a high priority on sustainability. Half the battle in creating products is finding the right partners whose values are aligned with yours.
What’s your workspace like and a tell us a little bit about your team?
We JUST moved offices, and they are inspiring. Wall-to-wall windows looking out over a place called Shem Creek in Charleston with a straight view of the Ravenel Bridge. I’m not kidding when I say that I look out the office and it’s not a rare event to see a school of dolphins swim by. It’s wild. As a kid born in Brooklyn, I don’t know how this happened – but I am immensely grateful.
Do you have a creative muse?
My mother is an artist and my father was a surgeon. I think that maybe – on my best days – I tap a bit of both of their skills in my work. But I don’t have a muse, per se. No, that’s wrong. Actually, when I look out the window – at the beauty of nature, or when I talk to a customer and they’re glowing and there’s a real connection there, these things are my muse.
Do you collect anything?
I’m an ingredient hoarder. My partner says – some women collect shoes, Susanne collects oils and ingredients. My ingredient closet in the lab could give Carrie Bradshaw’s shoe closet a run for its money.
How do you relax?
Work?? Eek. I love what I do. My partner right now would be rolling his eyes in agreement. I love my family, of course, and being with them, doing silly stuff is fun and a great way to relax. But yes, work!!
What is your Vision for Maya Chia Beauty?
To create products that are wildly effective, make a difference; streamline customer’s lives so that they don’t have to use an exhaustive litany of products to get results. We would also love to give back in the process.