Back in New York City, Lliguin and his wife fashion designer wife, Anne Ayers, were so taken away with the discovery that they formed Amazon Beauty in 2008, which was soon followed by the launch of the first products.
The brand is called Rahua and it has been named after the Rahua oil responsible for that beautiful hair.
Cosmetics Design Spoke to Lliguin to find out more about how this carefully curated high end brand has evolved, the sourcing of the Rahua oil, the philosophy behind the brand and plans to keep growing.
What inspired you to establish a brand based on ingredients from the Amazon?
Rahua is a business born through the environmental work of Ecoagents, business partner and wife Anna Ayers and me, created to raise awareness on the importance of protecting the Amazon Rainforest. It was the introduction of the rare Rahua oil that inspired the brand. While on an environmental mission deep in the Amazon, I met indigenous women with incredibly long, healthy hair. As a hairdresser by trade, I asked them what they attributed to the beauty of their hair. They explained to me that they use Rahua oil. That discovery became the catalyst to start the business, as we saw an opportunity to help the indigenous people sustain their environment and local economies.
How do your customers perceive ingredients sourced from this region?
The Amazon, by far, is the geographical area that contains the most potent and clean ingredients in the world and today’s consumers are very eco-conscious and want to align with sustainable brands. They are drawn to Rahua as they understand we use Symbiotic, natural, organic, clean, plant-derived ingredients as well as recyclable packaging that contribute to a healthy environment.
What are the challenges of sourcing ingredients from the Amazon?
We have developed very strong relationships with the tribes as they understand we are there to help them with achieving their legal land ownership, protecting the forest, etc. These relationships are built on trust and that is what allows us to work with the indigenous people and cultivate amazing ingredients. Still, there are challenges. Ingredients cannot be farmed; they must be grown wild in order to be effective. The biggest challenge is the distance. To get to their village, I have to charter a small plane which after flying 90 minutes above the treetops, finally lands on a makeshift runway landing for planes. This is the only way to access these remote jungle areas, or by canoes, which may take weeks at the time.
What makes the Rahua brand really stand out in the indie beauty space?
Rahua hair, body, and wellness care is crafted with Symbiotic*, pure, plant derived, organic ingredients to produce clean, vegan and cruelty free products free of gluten, sulfates and parabens. What truly sets Rahua apart from other indie beauty brands is that we are the only brand that contains Rahua Oil, a rare oil hand-harvested in the Amazon Rainforest and produced from the ungarahua nut. It is an extremely restorative oil rich in Omega 9 nutrients. These nutrients have an extraordinarily small molecular level which enables it to penetrate the hair’s cortex deeper than any other natural oil or synthetic product. The results are bonding and repairing to the hair shaft and restoring its natural moisture balance.
In which markets and retail spaces are your products currently available? Do you have plans to expand this footprint?
In the US, our retailers include clean beauty boutiques such as The Detox Market, Aillea, and Follain. Luxury department stores include Barney’s, ABC Carpet & Home, Space NK in Bloomingdales & Nordstrom’s. In Canada, Holt Renfrew and Hudson Bay Company. In Europe, Harrod’s, Le Bon Marché, and Cult Beauty. Online retailers include Sephora.com, Net-A-Porter and Dermstore.com as well as Rahua.com. We have expansion plans in third quarter of 2019 with a large department store as well as boutique beauty store chain. We also have plans underway to expand internationally with large distributors.
What has been your biggest sense of achievement with the brand?
There have been so many achievements. We have had huge achievements with the 2018 launch of Rahua Hydration Shampoo & Conditioner, developed to attract a new customer base in search of products to revitalize parched hair. The addition of this category rounds-out our daily hair care portfolio of strength, volume and color preserving. Adding Hydration captured a larger new audience, particularly with its refreshing passion fruit and mango natural aroma. We just expanded on this category with Rahua Hydration Detangler + UV Barrier, a moisturizing leave-in detangler that softens hair, smooths frizz, prevents breakage and provides a UV defense barrier to protect color treated hair from fading. We are already experiencing huge growth from this new launch.
Where do you see the Rahua brand in five years’ time?
Rahua Shampoo shall be in 20 times more showers than it is currently in around the world!