All Fired Up!
Jena Covello is a force to be reckoned with. The fiery yet feminine founder has evolved her brand Agent Nateur from a single sku cult-favorite into a complete wellness and skincare company that has maintained the quality standards and formula superiority as it has scaled. Holi (Stick) N3 was the brand’s first luxurious, concentrated and beautifully packaged product; today Agent Nateur boasts skincare, ingestible beauty and body care, each delivering on the same distinguishing markers that made the brand an early success story. A must-have among celebrities, influencers and even other formulators – try Jena’s truly intoxicating Holi (Rose) N4, an uber-successful collab with Shiva Rose featuring Shiva’s trademark sandalwood and rose blend – Agent Nateur’s growth has come organically, as Jena created each product in her lineup to satisfy her own unmet need. As a woman who suffers from two severe autoimmune diseases, her products have first and foremost been remedies for her own healing. She may have the Midas touch – every time she creates something for her and shares it with her loyal following, it becomes the next best thing. At this point, it would be easy for Jena to cash in and peace out, but she won’t. Instead, Jena is compelled to share what she’s learned and lived first hand, on a personal mission to help others. Just follow Agent Nateur’s blog or social media for a few weeks and you’ll experience her steady stream of health and wellness information. But be warned: Jena doesn’t pull any punches. She’s informed, opinionated and unafraid to stir up a little controversy if it means getting to the truth. In our interview, Jena shows up in full force and calls it like she sees it, which is yet another reason we adore Agent Nateur.
You suffer from 2 autoimmune conditions, endometriosis and adenomyosis. Can you tell us how this affects you and how you manage them, day by day?
I was diagnosed with stage IV endometriosis 16 years ago and had it under control until I was diagnosed with adenomyosis in 2014. Adenomyosis is very tricky. It is essentially endometriosis that grows inside the muscle of the uterus which is much different than endometriosis that grows on top of ovaries, fallopian tubes and other organs. Adenomyosis is basically trapped, and doctors have a hard time operating on it. Only one surgeon in the US is able to perform a surgery known as the Osada Procedure. Aside from that, ablation rarely works, and a hysterectomy is often recommended with advanced adenomyosis because the pain is so severe. I had to make a complete lifestyle change, beginning with my diet, I stick to a very strict anti-inflammatory autoimmune diet which involves avoiding all processed sugar and keeping my fruit intake to a minimum. I never eat gluten, beef or dairy and I rarely eat beans or grains. I make a point to see my physical therapist Tarek at Kinetix365 once a week consistently for body work and myofascial release as a part of my holistic treatment. Women with endometriosis and adenomyosis tend to have a lot of lower back, hip and leg pain as well as pressure on their uterus. I also have to do very modified Pilates workouts to ensure I am not triggering my hips. I try to meditate every day. Some weeks I have very low energy and I have to be very mindful of listening to my body and resting when needed. I no longer fault myself or feel guilty when I am tired and need to rest.
You started Agent Nateur by making luxury, non-toxic deodorant. What first led you to create an aluminum-free product, about five years ago now?
My diagnosis with adenomyosis was the inspiration. That, and my dad had been telling me not to wear aluminum antiperspirant since 1996. For years I thought he was crazy! Then in 2014 multiple holistic doctors told me to stop using deodorant with aluminum because it is an endocrine disruptor that can mimic estrogen and I’m already estrogen dominant. I couldn’t find a healthy deodorant that worked for me, so I created my own. Now we have four deodorants in the line, plus a growing skincare collection. It all stemmed from one stick of deodorant.
What inspired you to enter the competitive space of skincare?
I just followed my heart and continue to create from that place. I never think of the competition or compare my products to other brands. I went to school in the south of France for natural cosmetics and perfume. Shortly after the program I spent some time in Paris and began sourcing ingredients I had never even heard of and created a face oil for myself. It was so good, I just decided to make it into a product so I could share it with others. That was my beginning in skincare. Everything I create is initially for myself. I know if I love it then I know I am fully behind it and can share it with the world.
You go beyond the basic talk about ingredients and skincare techniques. You like to engage your customers about their overall health and wellness on your blog and social media platforms, often delving into controversial issues. Some might say you are an activist. Why are these issues so worth fighting for?
The things that I am talking about are what is being said privately in the holistic medical community around the world, it needs to be shared. When I began sharing what I was learning with my customers and community, I didn’t actually realize that what I was saying wasn’t already public knowledge. It was a surprise to me that people in holistic beauty didn’t fully understand or agree with what I was talking about. Then I realized many people are afraid to speak out. As I look back, if I released a natural deodorant in 1996, that would have been incredibly controversial. Many people today still don’t think aluminum is harmful.
A huge part of Agent Nateur is relaying that each of the ingredients in my products are strictly GMO-free and have been since day 1. I don’t think that people understand how hard that is to accomplish and how important it is. So, when I talk about GMO’s and Glyphosate being toxic in beauty products, I’m not going to end the conversation there. I am going to talk about how harmful glyphosate is, and that GMO’s are making people incredibly ill. Nearly everyone in the US has leaky gut because of the American diet, the pesticides, herbicides, glyphosate and genetically modified food. I feel compelled to talk about these issues because if we want to see an end to Bayer/Monsanto, education is necessary. By the way, Bayer/Monsanto just lost a 2 billion dollar lawsuit for causing cancer. When I spoke about this on Instagram in 2016, I was attacked and told that “science” proved that glyphosate and GMO’s were safe.
And, I don’t stop the conversation there. Which politicians are lobbying for Monsanto? Why is it considered harmful for you to eat glyphosate, yet some think it’s ok in vaccines? Why should we wear aluminum free deodorant, yet think it’s ok for an untested, exorbitant amount of aluminum to be found in vaccines? My stance is that if you’re living a holistic lifestyle and promoting a holistic, green beauty brand, you simply can’t vote for politicians who are in bed with Monsanto. It’s hypocritical. You can’t promote natural deodorant and think it’s ok to give mandatory vaccines that don’t have to go through any safety measurements before hitting the market. It’s not about being anti-vaccine, it’s about changing the system so that vaccines are properly tested so they are effective AND safe. I have two autoimmune diseases that I am trying to heal, and the government is talking about forcing adults to get vaccinated. This directly impacts me and others like me.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned since starting Agent Nateur?
The most surprising thing I’ve learned is that that people in the holistic community don’t want to speak out publicly regarding serious health issues.
How do you want people to feel when they think of Agent Nateur?
Agent Nateur has a cult following that I attribute that to my passion, authenticity and transparency. I want people to consider Agent Nateur to be equal parts beauty and efficacy – honest and clean. Obviously, I am not interested in only taking someone’s money. I am interested in educating my customer so that they can have the knowledge to be as healthy as possible and to have beautiful skin. This is what holistic beauty should be about. The only way to take care of another person or the earth is to first take care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually. And that all begins with empowering yourself through knowledge so that you’re able to make the best choices for your own health and wellness.
What are some your best health and wellness resources for those suffering from a chronic or autoimmune illness?
It all begins with a clean, organic diet and meditation. A clean diet takes years off of your skin, fixes rosacea, can uplift the mood and changes the gut, so first and foremost, I highly recommend an anti-inflammatory auto immune diet. Food (and Beauty) is medicine.