Julia& Craig are positive, conscious and aware partners, who decided to devote all of their time to each other, while making a positive social change by breaking the commercial unethical cosmetics supply chain. Through exploring the untamed continent of Africa and discovering new plants from the rich flora diversity of the landscape, they created the signature beauty line of african botanics. passion, celebration and honouring nature is at the heart of their philosophy, embodying the spirit of the rainbow nation. Made entirely from raw materials in the Republic of South Africa, their products take us on a journey across new and unique eco systems.
I had the pleasure to meet Julia and Craig in the hip Californian Primo Passo Coffee Co., located in Santa monica, a few blocks away from their home office.
Take a glimpse into the magical African world of botanics.
This interview is devoted to all lovers of nature.
'Sustainability is the foundation of our future. We have to care about what tomorrow will be like and the only way to do that is to be truly present, be mindful about what we are creating today. '
Portrait of Julia & Craig Noik
Illustrated by Katarzyna Jagielnicka for Noir Catcher
How was the idea of african botanics born?
It was born out of desire to create a luxury collection of skincare products utilizing Africa’s indigenous plants’ extracts and oils in modern formulations.
Where is your driving inspiration and passion coming from?
Inspiration always comes from our travels, natural environment, countless visits to the wild African bush and the people we meet.
We feel passionate about Africa’s biodiversity and think that bringing awareness through our products is so important to educate people about conserving and protecting the nature and resources we have available to us.
You are such a lovely couple. How is being partners both in life and work?
We have been together for 22 years and it is a team effort. We each contribute and do different things that ultimately join up to create the final product. We work very closely together and constantly check in with each other. We don’t believe in heroes or egos and we know that each one of us has our strengths and abilities so we don’t interfere with each other that much. But there are days when we bump heads or want to chase each other round the office with sharp objects. In a loving way of course...
How did you discover the magical ingredient of marula oil and its super powers?
While still living in South Africa we had heard of Marula Oil and Marula fruit but never actually got a chance to try it until it was time to develop the line.
The fruit is so exotic that most South Africans have never seen or tasted it - unless they travel into the bush during the height of the African summer.
It is not a commercial fruit and you will never see it selling at a grocery store for example.
After trying and using Marula Oil, I noticed amazing improvements in the texture and the appearance of my skin and had to research this ingredient. 8 years ago there was no information about it anywhere. All we knew is that the oil was used by the local people and was prized for it’s skin healing benefits, but we needed to know why is it so beneficial and this is where we turned to a South African university to help us with our research.
How do you source your ingredients through the Paradise of plants?
We work with small producers from all over South Africa, but the Cape Floral Kingdom has many beauty secrets and very unique plants, thanks to its biodiversity.
We like to work directly with these producers and visit their areas just to see where the plants grow and how they are harvested and processed. We know all of our producers personally and have a clear knowledge of how they grow their plants. We have seen the fields where our ingredients grow and even climbed some very steep mountains to touch them in the wild. We also want to be sure that we are only buying and using the freshest ingredients from the current season which we are able to do with the relationships we’ve established with them.
How is Ethics incorporated in your beauty products? What is the importance of it in every aspect of design?
Ethical means that it was grown and harvested in a very sustainable way, we make sure we only use the plants that are not endangered and harvested in the most respectful way without ever depleting the eco-system. We’ve worked with botanists to study the process and guarantee no damaging effects are created by our usage. For example, one of our recent studies showed that we are using only a minimal percentage of the Marula fruit that is available on an annual basis. Regarding our packaging, our impact is also kept very minimal as we use recyclable glass throughout the collection.
'Conservation is the key to continuation and any part that all of us can play is extremely important. '
Why does Sustainability matter to you?
Sustainability is the foundation of our future. We have to care about what tomorrow will be like and the only way to do that is to be truly present, be mindful about what we are creating today. The choices and decisions we make today create or destroy our future. And we want our children and their great grandchildren to have a world that is even more alive than it is today. Conservation is the key to continuation and any part that all of us can play is extremely important.
Are you acquiring knowledge and inspiration from African’s Traditional Medicine?
We love reading books on this topic, so many botanicals we use are documented and have been used in African traditional medicine. We have many books on the subject and enjoy learning from the guides we visit the wild with. There are so many incredible African Folklore uses that science is now able to validate and we find it absolutely amazing how the local African people could have such a vast knowledge of the wilderness and it’s plant life.
What lays at the beauty of Africa?
Africa is a fascinating continent which is so diverse and at the same time it is still in it’s very raw stage, this is what makes it so unique and beautiful. Once you visit Africa, it will never leave your heart or memory. The impression will be there forever.
'The African land is very untouched and the skies are unforgettable. Along the journey you discover more about yourself and more about life as a human being. '
What is your favourite journey?
A family road trip in South Africa. One of our most favorite places to go is the remote rural areas north of South Africa on the borders with Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The African land is very untouched and the skies are unforgettable. Along the journey you discover more about yourself and more about life as a human being.
What did you embrace from the African culture and brought back home?
We love African's hospitality and story telling.
What is the most marked characteristic of an African?
The majority of the people we meet are very positive and happy. Life in Africa is celebrated, appreciated and shared between friends.
What about the most interesting feature in their culture for you?
We find it interesting how African people are connected to nature and the land, no matter what tribe you encounter. Family is also very important to them. They take care of their old and young throughout life.
What are the beauty ancient rituals you have learnt from the magical African land?
We have learnt so many beauty rituals. Muti Mud is used by so many tribes to protect the skin from the environment and help heal wounds. Buchu plant is used by the ancient Bushmen tribes to perfume their bodies. Aloe Ferox and Bulbinella are used for their sap, which is so healing and smoothing for the skin. A lot if these ingredients are also used for their medicinal properties.
what made you feel the cultural clash and what made you feel the same?
South Africa is known as the rainbow nation. We have eleven official languages and so many different cultures and traditions that all melt together to form one way of life where everyone embraces their differences. Whenever we arrive in South Africa we feel at home. We love the feeling of the last 100 meters before the planes lands, as you look out the window and see the grass and countryside below. It’s incredible to think what awaits us below. From our family and friends to the food and places, there is so much to touch and even more that touches you in return. Each time we visit, we feel more connected to the beautiful country and the wonderful people there. If you’ve never visited, we recommend you go.
do we need a different skin care in our daily urban life in the big and polluted cities?
Absolutely, there is more pollution in the big cities and a proper cleansing, exfoliating routine is a must. Products that you use should be high in antioxidants, which protect the skin from free radicals.
Beauty outside is a reflection of our inner wellbeing and the products we consume...
Absolutely agree with you. So much of what is going on internally shows on our skin, it is like a map to our inner health and our overall well-being.
What are your secret Beauty tips?
We encourage all people to take great care of their body’s and skin. Cleansing your skin, regular exfoliation and a great mask can make a huge difference in the way your skin looks but also how you feel. What is also important is to supplement with a nutrient-rich face oil or serum.
What is your favourite and most recommended ingredient after marula oil and why?
Very difficult to say, as there are so many amazing and versatile ingredients. My pick would be Green Rooibos tea for it’s antioxidants, minerals and AHA’s. You can drink it as a tea and look for it in our products.
Are the botanical aromas incorporated in your products selected following aromatherapy's principles?
Most importantly the plant ingredients that we choose for our formulations have to benefit the skin. Many of these unique botanicals have an amazing aromatherapy benefit as well, we work with an aromatherapist prior to using each ingredient making sure it does not sensitize the skin. Each of the ingredients we use is well researched and known for it’s skin healing abilities. We don’t use ingredients if they do not offer any benefits to the mind, skin or body.
What are your morning rituals and magical potions for beauty, clarity and energy?
First thing in the morning for me, starts with either a yoga class/meditation, a brisk walk to school with the kids, skin brushing in the shower, using body oils - it can really set you for the day and make it more pleasant.
I love to incorporate a green juice every morning with lemon, cucumber, celery and fennel. Also having a good probiotic on an empty stomach daily helps with skin clarity and overall health.
And your essentials?
Our Firming Botanical Body oil is an essential for my daily use and Kalahari desert Detox Bath Salts at nights helps me fall asleep. Craig uses our Buchu Botanical Enzyme Polish every night as a cleanser. He loves the way it feels and smells at the end of the day.
Do you have any future plans in extending the product line of african botanics?
Yes, 2017 will be very exciting. We have many new products that will be launching this year.