When evaluating your life experiences, do you ever stop to think about how you came to the very moment you exist in? What led to that moment? What lessons have you learned along the way? This interview got my wheels turning. For me personally, I believe that every single thing happens for a reason (cliche’ I know) and we may not understand the “whys” at that moment but when you see your purpose unfold, it all makes complete sense.
These are not questions that La Ishá founder, Sharon Gnatt Epel has to answer daily. She knows exactly what led her to the success she has today and her story is truly amazing. I am thrilled she took the time to share the La Ishá story and a few personal beauty tips along the way.
What inspired you to create your skincare line?
I relocated to Denver from northern California in 2002, and quickly discovered that from my complexion’s perspective I had moved to skin hell! Life in the beautiful state of Colorado is a perpetually good hair day for those of us prone to the frizzies, but the combination of low humidity, high altitude, and exposure to direct sunlight (over 300 days a year) aged my skin so rapidly that I hardly recognized myself a mere 6 months after the move. I looked around me and saw that pretty much everyone was suffering from similar issues: dehydrated skin, uneven pigment, significant lines, skin creases and wrinkles, and age/sun spots that appeared on people who seemed way too young to have them.
I struck up conversations with women I met in the supermarket, the post office, the hairdresser, etc. in an attempt to figure out what remedies people were using to help their skin, and came up empty handed! No one seemed to have a good solution. I also got a strong sense of the apprehension many women were feeling about looking older, not just on an emotional level, but a practical one as they were convinced that their appearance was sabotaging their ability to compete with their younger counterparts for jobs. Some took out loans for facelifts and eyelid procedures that they hoped would improve their chances for employment and make them feel better about themselves, but not everyone has the financial means, emotional support system or desire to undergo invasive surgical techniques to accomplish this.
Another “inspirational” factor in creating my skin care line was the emergence of research suggesting that women have unknowingly been poisoning themselves in order to look good. The phthalates in many beauty preparations were linked to breast cancer and birth defects, and synthetic chemical preservatives identified as the second most common cause of skin irritations. It seemed ridiculous to me that women should be endangering their health and paying such a high price to look good, yet I was definitely among those beauty junkies who had been doing so, blissfully unaware of the consequences.
It was only after my son sustained 2nd degree chemical burns during a rafting expedition (be sure to read The La Ishá Story on http://la-isha.com/library/story.php) that I was introduced to clinical essential oil therapy. I witnessed his miraculous recovery and wondered what effect these natural substances would have on relatively minor skin problems like mine, and how they could be incorporated into a daily skin care routine to produce continuous, long term benefits.
I signed up for classes, studied online, consulted with experts in the field, and eventually wound up experimenting on myself. When my friends noticed the drastic improvement in my skin and asked me what I was using, I knew I had something significant to offer everyone.
If I were to peek in your makeup bag, what would I find?
Concealer, eyebrow pencil, lipstick, Zambeezi organic lip balm and a travel size of La Ishá Nutrient Rich Face Crème.
Other than basic skincare, what three treatment products do you recommend?
While the La Ishá Timeless Beauty Face Collection provides the basics for everyday skin care, we offer several unusual treatments that are exclusive to La Ishá. The first is Breast SOS: this groundbreaking, patent-pending formula is designed to support the beauty and health of the breast and décolleté. This is an area that so many of us forget to address, and living proof of the precautions we have or have not taken to prevent sun damage. Breast SOS helps tone, firm and rejuvenate the chest and breast area, fade age spots, hyperpigmentation, and minimize the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and skin-creases. It can also restore a tighter, springy resilience to the skin that many women may not have seen in years. The ingredients in Breast SOS have been documented by international research to support good breast health and fight free radical damage. Because it is so healing and emollient, many women have used it to speed up their recovery process after breast surgery, and prepare the skin for breast reconstruction.
Our Natural Age Spot Eraser is another staple in our anti-aging skin care arsenal. It is used to gradually fade age and sunspots without the use of hydroquinone or other harsh synthetic chemicals. Because it is so gentle to the skin, it is ideal for women of color who cannot use chemical bleaches that damage the underlying pigment. Most women find that their age and sunspots have either disappeared or are greatly diminished within 30 to 60 days of regular use.
La Ishá Pomegranate Moisture Booster is another must have product. An adaptogen and incredible skin rejuvenator, it can be added to any face cream or moisturizer that you are already using to supercharge its’ moisture content, help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, even out skin tone, improve skin texture, and provide protection from free radicals. It is customizable moisture that can be adjusted as needed. It is exceptionally effective in combating the dryness caused by cold winters, low humidity, the use of forced-air heaters, air conditioners and the gradual reduction of our skin’s natural oils as we mature.
Each bottle of La Ishá Pomegranate Moisture Booster contains approximately 300 drops…because you use only 1 or 2 drops at a time, it is also extremely cost effective. It has become a staple for me and I use it religiously.
You devote your life to improving the lives of others thru your skincare line. At the end of the week, what do you do to pamper yourself? Because I usually work long hours, I don’t always have an opportunity to pamper myself, even over the weekend. In lieu of this I try my best to meditate at least twice a day, carve out an hour to work out every morning, and get a deep tissue massage once a month. I also love to dance, and recently took up West Coast Swing. It makes me happy and I believe that this has a direct effect on my outlook as well as my appearance.
Do you have a spa/salon service that you can’t live without? If so, what is it and where do you go? Unfortunately I currently do not, and have not had a favorite since the fabulous aesthetician who used to do my European facials retired some time ago. I am still searching! Any suggestions?
Who is your beauty icon? When I think of beauty icons I think of Catherine Deneuve, the actress who was the spokes model for Chanel No. 5. To me she was as much the embodiment of timeless beauty, elegance, femininity and grace at 65 that she was at 35.
What is your beauty product must have? That’s easy: my Pomegranate Moisture Booster because it serves multiple purposes. When combined with crème or moisturizer it adds emollience…yet when applied (neat) directly to adult blemishes, it dries them up in record time.
What is your personal definition of Beauty? Physical beauty is so subjective…just like fashion trends, it is usually defined by the culture a person lives in…but for me true beauty has taken on a different universal meaning: I see beauty in people whose charisma and appeal seems to emanate directly from the soul; the kind of person who radiates a happiness and positive outlook that infects everyone lucky enough to be in his or her path. To me true beauty looks kind, warm, humble, compassionate and respectful of others. All you have to do is think back to the last time you met someone whose actions and behavior altered your initial impression of their appearance, and you will know exactly what I mean.
Any last words? For most of us there seems to be a connection between the way we look and the way we feel about ourselves. This is a lesson I learned from my late mother, a very beautiful woman who did not age well in the traditional sense of the word. She once told me that as she got older, her diminishing good looks affected her perception of herself, and this in turn robbed her of her self-confidence.
I founded La Ishá as a tribute to women everywhere, as a vehicle to help nurture and cultivate the timeless beauty that I believe resides within all of us. Feeling as beautiful on the outside as we are on the inside seems to make it a little easier for us women to venture out into the world; it bolsters our self-confidence and puts a spring in our step. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month (October), La Ishá will be donating one bottle of Breast SOS for each bottle purchased in both September and October to the American Cancer Society’s Look Good Feel Better program. Please join me in supporting our girlfriends, mothers, sisters and daughters who are post surgery and in need of our help.
Sharon also shares with me “I think that my training as a concert painist gave me the best preparation for the demands of being an entrepreneur. Pianists are by necessity self-discplined;we put in many hours of solityar practice, learn how to put our egos aside in order to benefit from our mentors’ critiques, and ultimately, unlike other instrumentalists, have ourselves to rely upon when we perform. We have to provide our own motivation, be ready to make significant sacrifices in order to hone our craft, and keep our eye fixed on the objective in the face of naysayers, competition and our own competition.”
All I can say is WOW. As you all know, I adore products but even more-so, I love products with a story and a fabulous mission behind them. Sharon definitely has a story to tell. The creation of La Ishá is one of the most inspirational stories I have ever heard.
No wonder she is getting attention from media outlets such as Fox News, CBS News, San Diego Examiner, Denver Magazine and most recently was featured in the “Eat, Pray, Love” Segment on ABC News featuring La Ishá Orange-Coconut Skin Polish (which by the way…I LOVE)
I hope you all check back soon for my review on La Ishá . It’s a fabulous line that I adore and completely give the Pretty in the Queen City stamp of approval!