ONDA Inside

Tata Harper

by Cristina Rivera Earl on Oct 09, 2022

Tata Harper
Your line of clean skincare has a cult following like no other. What is it, do you think, about Tata Harper Skincare that resonates so deeply with customers?
Our line was really created for people who want it all–for their skin, their health, and the planet. When I created the line, I knew what I was looking for when it came to performance, experience, and safety, and I knew that other women would, too. In essence, the entire concept of my brand was based on my philosophy that you don’t have to choose between your health and beauty. I wanted to create a brand that was high performance and delivered incredible results, without the compromise of having to use synthetic industrial chemicals that contribute to your toxic load. There was a real need for this in the market–it just didn’t exist. Our brand proves that you don’t have to compromise; you can actually have it all.

We read that you were an industrial engineer before founding your skincare line. What precipitated the career move to clean beauty brand founder?
I was born and raised in Colombia by my mother and grandmother who were
obsessed with beauty. After high school, I wanted to study fashion, but my mother
encouraged me to attend school in Mexico to become an industrial engineer. Then, I took this road of being an entrepreneur in beauty. I never thought that I would be in beauty, even though I’ve always loved it. We started Tata Harper Skincare on our organic farm in Vermont in 2010 and since we launched our first product line, we have grown into a global business.

I studied industrial engineering and I love science, I don’t find it intimidating. My
engineering background gives me an easy understanding of the language of science so I understand formulations and ingredients. I like to think of myself as a
theoretical chemist because I understand how different ingredients work together in a formula but I’m not a chemist in practice. I love working with our in-house chemists and our research and development team because we do everything ourselves and make everything from scratch, so every single ingredient in a formula has a purpose.

We'd imagine that your career background was actually quite useful
in starting your own business! Part of an industrial engineer's job is to
eliminate wastefulness in the production process, right? What are
some ways you do that at Tata Harper Skincare?
For us, sustainability isn’t about marketing, it’s just the way we’ve always done
business. You can’t be a green company without a green product, and that means
everything from ingredients to manufacturing to packaging needs to take
the planet into account. Sustainability is included in every single
aspect of our company, not just the package. We believe sustainability is an
expected standard and not a marketing thing. In my opinion, the ultimate display of sustainability is that the product is sustainable. We don’t use one single drop
of synthetic chemicals. We create products that enrich, not deplete,
our environment and resources. We consider everything from using local
ingredients and talent, to packaging, to manufacturing processes, and respecting
living creatures. We keep our products fresh by being vertically integrated and
doing everything ourselves, and also only make exactly the amount of product that we need to make so it stays as potent and as fresh as possible. It’s a luxury to have a handmade, super fresh, and highly active product that is also sustainable and nontoxic.

What sets Tata Harper Skincare apart from other clean beauty brands?
I believe that our products have opened the eyes of so many people who believe the only option out there is to use products and formulas that are bad for your health. We are so proud to be innovators and pioneers in this industry and to pave the way to do things differently. We are completely transparent and take social and environmental responsibility in every step of our process. Whether it’s our ingredients or our packaging, we work with vendors that are committed to fair trade, protecting workers, supporting local communities, sustainability, and environmentally responsible practices. We are beyond clean and more than natural. We are a green beauty line because what we do doesn’t fit into one category–we do it all. I feel that clean beauty is a great effort that the industry has made to “clean up” their cosmetics, as they’ve been using controversial ingredients for years and are attempting to rid their formulas of them. At the end of the day, that’s what everything should be–that’s the baseline–but that’s not what we do. We do so much more than just avoid a few controversial ingredients. All of our formulas are 100% natural and non-toxic and every single ingredient we use comes from nature. That’s green beauty.

You're Colombian (and very proud of it, no doubt!) How did your upbringing and cultural background influence your business?
I grew up in Barranquilla, Colombia surrounded by vibrant Latin Culture that was so unique and impactful on shaping who I am today. As a young girl, I was immersed in a household of strong, entrepreneurial women that loved beauty–we’re a total of 35 cousins and 20 of those are women–so there was a dedication to self-care. My grandmother would host spa parties in her house every weekend and invite all of these women to come try her hair mask or body scrub. I loved helping her make the products from scratch using local Colombian ingredients that came from the earth. I would watch her teach the women how to take care of their skin and noticed how much more confident and beautiful they would feel after my grandmother would do the treatments. From a young age, I had a growing appreciation for helping women embrace their individuality as their own and helping women to be the best version of themselves.

Did any of your family’s recipes make their way into Tata Harper products? Or were any products specifically inspired by your mother and grandmother?
With my mother and grandmother, it was a lot of DIY face masks and treatments using ingredients like avocado, honey, and lemon, and things growing around us locally or fresh from the store. We often made our own honey mask with natural, pure honey that would soothe our skin. This inspired me to include honey in the formulation of our Clarifying Mask. We decided to use it because it is so good for blemish-prone and problematic skin, because it simultaneously clarifies, soothes, and moisturizes. The honey helps keep the skin from feeling dry or irritated while AHA superfruits and quartz micro-crystals offer powerful exfoliation.

You live on a farm. We imagine it to be the most charming and bucolic place. Can you tell us a little bit about life on the farm, how living there is different from other places you've called home?
I had always dreamed of living on a farm and when we were looking to move up north from Miami in 2003, we found the perfect place to start a family in Vermont. I was just in the early stages of starting my business, and the more time I spent here the more I became inspired and the less I wanted to leave. Vermont has been the most idyllic place to raise my kids and grow a business. I love spending time on our farm hiking, walking, and playing with the animals. I am a very visual person and much of my inspiration comes from natural sources or directly from nature. Our farm is booming with wildlife and nature and there is endless opportunity for inspiration right at my doorstep.

You are no doubt a very busy woman. What are some of your favorite ways to unwind?
I love to unwind with one of our at-home facial regimens. I’m a skincare maximalist so I have a lot of at-home facial routines for whatever mood my skin is in, or that I am in. I have always looked at skincare as self-care. It is a ritual for me every morning and night and my time to unwind. It's important to take a little extra time to focus on yourself. I like to light a calming candle, play some relaxing music, and take my time applying my skincare instead of just going through the motions. It's really my favorite way to relax and find calm before I start a crazy day or get into bed.

What's the best advice (either career or personal life-related...or both!) that you've received, and from whom?
My mom taught me beauty is not a chore, it’s about self care. Even as a busy mom and juggling a million things, it’s important to always try to have some time for myself. It helps me reconnect and slow down so I am ready for whatever the day brings. While it might be hard to carve out some time, I always try to do at least one thing a day that I love–whether it’s a meditation, short walk or even just unplugging from technology for a few minutes.

"The Resurfacing Mask is like glow in a jar – everyone should have it! It was one of the original products that we launched the brand with, and it’s honestly been such a client favorite since Day 1."

 

"I love that this offers real protection without any harsh chemicals–and of course I love the sustainable packaging!"

  

WESTMAN ATELIER BONNE BROW DEFINING PENCIL
"I love that this offers real protection without any harsh chemicals–and of course I love the sustainable packaging!"

 

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