La Bella Figura Returns to Nature (And Manhattan)

Goodlifer: La Bella Figura Returns to Nature (And Manhattan)

With more and more “green” and “eco” beauty products flooding supermarket and pharmacy shelves, it’s hard to decipher all the real organic and natural beauty products from the fake.

Kathie Butler, a sustainable beauty expert on conscious lifestyle magazine EcoSalon says in her article titled 7 Beauty Ingredients to Avoid “The easiest way to ensure you are purchasing a safe product is to become a vigilant reader of labels.”

Like Butler, Chicago based La Bella Figura hails from the sustainable beauty world and tries to make a world rife with mixed messaging and toxic ingredients clearer for just about anyone they come in contact with.

La Bella Figura co-founders Victoria Fantauzzi and Karen King say their motto is simple: “Nature Is Our Inspiration,” and they want you to be inspired as well. Before they left the Windy City to head to Manhattan for fashion week, we caught up with La Bella Figura co-founder Victoria Fantauzzi to talk more about her own brand and the importance of making greener choices when considering beauty products.

Goodlifer: La Bella Figura Returns to Nature (And Manhattan)

As a beauty brand that sources raw, handpicked ingredients, how do you even know where to go to find Neroli flowers or Barbary Figs?
We go straight to the growers and the farmers. It doesn’t always mean we get what we want from them, because a lot of times they sell their essences or materials to a middle person and we buy the ingredients from that middle person. We weren’t able to connect with a producer in Madagascar who has been one of a rare few growing coffee flowers to distill for perfumers. It’s not exactly as lucrative for this grower to grow the coffee flowers instead of the beans to sell and when he does he will sell to the highest bidder. That may be a mega perfume brand and not a little guy like us. Lucky for us this grower also sold a bit to a middle person who happens to sell rare essences to people like us that are thrilled by the thought something like this exists in the world. There is magic in both discovery and having such a thing be a part of your perfume.

Where most mainstream consumers have only had access to synthetic perfumes, what is the reaction when they smell your scents?
Because the olfactive system is so intricate and neurons and electrical charges in the brain play a part of your sense of smell it can be overwhelming to smell true scent. Some people are so used to synthetic scents their brains can’t decipher the difference of a natural scent. Even something as common as the scent of rose can seem a bit off if you’ve been used to wearing synthetic fragrances of rose. Once your nose becomes accustomed to the essence of raw materials again it’s hard to then go back to smelling synthetic scents. It just becomes offensive to your olfactive system.

Lovers of perfume are like wondrous children when they smell our creations which are whimsical and nostalgic in their storytelling. Most of the time we hear how wonderful it is to wear our perfume and have it unfold with all the layers and notes from nature. It’s pretty exciting!

Goodlifer: La Bella Figura Returns to Nature (And Manhattan)

What was the driving force behind creating a Fair Trade, raw, handpicked line of beauty products?
It was the right thing to do. There are wars, slave labor, child trafficking horrible things happening in the world of chocolate, shea butter or banana plantations. We certainly weren’t going to create these kinds of products knowing that if we didn’t contribute our part to source an ingredient precious to our products in a responsible, ethical and sustainable way we were adding to the problems of the world. It is not right to pay a farmer less than fair wages. It is not okay for us to use GMO ingredients. We knew better and we just had to do better.

Tell me about how you’ve elevated the luxe factor of your products. Has it been more word of mouth or is it always all in the marketing?
Probably neither. I think it has to do with quality. When you use unrefined, natural ingredients and your products work effectively, feel amazing and smell incredible it becomes a luxurious and coveted item. For us it’s a labor of love to continue to create these hand crafted beauty products and it’s so important to use the best ingredients we can find. We don’t have our products manufactured out because we don’t believe a manufacturer understands how important our relationships are between producer to customer are to us. Marketing can be flawed because if you can’t back up your claims marketing, advertising and editorials are going to blow up in your face. We believe in impressing our Moms and our customers. Our Moms always told us to do the right thing and are customers are the ones who keep coming back and sustaining us as a company.

What are some new products you are launching and why did you see the need to create them?
We have six new products and one of them is a complete Vitamin C gel cream that we worked very hard on. Even in the natural beauty world there is so much confusion, for example the use of Vitamin C or rather the source of so called Vitamin C is controversial. Many brands use either ascorbic acid or a derivative which are in fact only a fraction of the whole and created in a lab.

Many of the Vitamin C we use in the U.S., even the kind you find at great organic grocery stores, come from China and include GMO corn in production. We decided to use a complete Vitamin C source from wild harvested Kakadu plums in our product to keep it’s integrity and stay on track with our mission to provide better. A lot of the time our customers ask us to create their favorite products and we want to be able to do that. Honestly we were a bit shocked to learn how misinformed the public is about Vitamin C products as were we. It helped us to create a better product in the end and one we’re proud to put on the market.

If you had to eliminate all but one of the LBF products, what would be your go to product and why?
I guess Decouverte Under Eye Repair Serum would be the keeper. When people first try it they are impressed by its quick and effective treatment to reduce puffy eyes. The notion that natural products don’t work as well as conventional products is debunked quickly with this rockstar product!

Goodlifer: La Bella Figura Returns to Nature (And Manhattan)

If you happen to be in NYC this week, Fantauzzi and King would love to meet in person at a fashion week party they’re hosting.

La Bella Figura, along with 17 other organic and natural beauty brands will be part of a massive New York Fashion Week event called A Night For Green Beauty on September 4, 2013 from 5-9 p.m. at the luxe James Corbett Studio. Corbett’s in-house charity Hair 2 Help, a nonprofit organization providing free holistic healing, wellness and beauty services to cancer patients and their caregivers will also be on hand with information about the organization. Donations as well as a percentage of all sales from the evening go to the charity.

The natural beauty pop-up will feature the organic industry’s top beauty brands in New York Fashion Week’s first ever, all-organic beauty venue and will serve as an informational hot spot for educating, sampling as well as shopping organic and natural beauty brands you’ll want to have on your non-toxic product radar.

To add to the educational component, special guests including celebrity makeup artist Katey Denno, certified beauty and health coach Jolene Hart, and New York Times heralded “High Profile Facialist,” Joanna Vargas will be on hand.

Attendees are invited to relax and get their hair “fluffed and puffed” at the James Corbett Green Beauty Hair Bar, or rest a moment at an organic makeup oasis while recharging with fresh pressed juices from Pressed Juicery and organic wine.

Sounds like an evening well-spent.

About author
Amy DuFault is a sustainable fashion writer and editor whose work has been published in EcoSalon, Ecouterre, Huffington Post, Organic Spa, Coastal Living, Yahoo News, The Frisky and other online and print publications. In addition to being a former co-owner of an eco-boutique and repping for many designers, she also coaches and connects the sustainable fashion community.
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