4 weeks ago

This Wonderful Little Place … In the Andes, Peru

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Nicola Connolly, founder of Nunaïa Beauty, the award winning ethical Irish skincare brand with self-care at its core, finds perspective and peace at the top of a mountain

I have always found travel fascinating as a way to engage with new cultures, explore and grow by pushing myself into unfamiliar circumstances. There is something terrifying yet deeply gratifying about setting off on your own to discover both a new place and at the same time a deeper part of yourself. I left Ireland at 17 and travelled around Australia and the Pacific, before going to college and subsequently spending over a decade in South America. 

I’ve always been fascinated by islands. After a few years in the fast-paced corporate world in London I realised I wanted a different kind of lifestyle, so I set off to discover and explore all the islands around the world I had always dreamed about. My last stop was the Galapagos Islands, a place on my wish list since seeing the Dr Doolittle movie when I was eleven. The boat pulled up to this island and before I had set foot on it, I just knew I needed to stay. Everything, from the incredible natural landscape, culture, people to the food and lifestyle, made my heart sing. A three-week visit turned into a life-changing twelve years across both Ecuador and Peru.  

This visit had a formative influence on my interest in skincare, though it was my granny who first taught me the importance of a good routine. Even at 82, she had fabulous skin and looked after it meticulously. The other experience that influenced my interest in health and skincare was discovering the plant world; the magic that plants hold to help us heal and look after our bodies and minds. I spent years living in remote parts of the world with incredible biodiversity like the Amazon Rainforest and Andes Mountains of Peru. This ultimately led to setting up Nunaïa Beauty where we work with these incredible plant actives to restore skin health and greater balance.

Our passion is to help women create little moments of connection in their day. Life has been particularly challenging for us all over the past few months and I hold a deep belief that when we feel grounded and strong in ourselves it’s easier to face life’s challenges and have a more positive impact on the people and communities around us. At Nunaïa, we create superfood skincare rituals that help women carve out these few moments of connection every day. We use high-performance superfood actives like sacha inchi and maracuja that nourish and restore the skin and combine this with simple mindfulness rituals, so not only does your skin glow but you also feel more calm and balanced afterwards. Our “soil to skin” philosophy distinguishes us from other skincare brands. We believe no one and nothing should suffer from what you put on your skin, so we have created a highly transparent 360° supply chain where people and planet come first. 

Over the past few months I’ve been bringing as much nature as possible into my home by focusing on the five senses – burning natural essential oils and smudging with palo santo, creating wildflower bouquets and cocooning in throws and blankets made from natural materials to feel as grounded a possible. During lockdown, we’ve been working hard at creating our “Give a Hand” sanitiser donation project. It’s our little drop in the ocean at this time and has been a really fun project to work on. With every bottle sold we donate an additional 50 per cent to the elderly care homes in our local area, as well as the ICU units at Connolly and St Vincent’s hospitals.

Once travel restrictions lift, I’m looking forward to heading back to Peru to work on some exciting new community projects with our growers we have in the pipeline. When I’m there I’ll visit my favourite place – a spot high up the Andes Mountains. It’s a one-hour drive from the nearest village and then a gruelling two-hour hike up to an altitude of 4,500 metres. You won’t meet another soul and at sunset the golden light spreading over the four valleys below is breathtaking. It’s a place that always helps put things in perspective for me. www.nunaia.com 

Nunaia is available at Avoca, Arnotts, Seagreen, The Clean Beauty Edit and is part of the Champion Green campaign led by Kilkenny Shop to drive support of local, Irish businesses as we emerge from Covid-19. 

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