I recently discovered Latvian organic beauty brand MÁDARA and when I opened the box of goodness it was love at first sight. The calming aesthetic, inherently rooted in Arctic landscape and influence, and the creative and innovative use of some stellar ingredients (including Nordic forest lake mud, broccoli, blackcurrant and cranberry seed oils, and Northern yarrow extract) immediately foster a sense of intelligent organic creativity. I have been using the Purifying Foam, Superseed Soothing Hydration facial oil, Moon Flower tinted moisturiser and a couple of Detox masks for over two months now and they are firmly rooted amongst my favourite natural beauty allies to date. And for those rare moments when I run out of my own homemade natural deodorant, they have a beautiful herbal blend that smells and feels like a little slice of the Nordic forest.
I caught up with on of their inspiring co-founders, Lotte, to dive a little deeper into the brand and the ethos underlying it. She is truly a holistic visionary, a woman who sees how infinitely nourishing nature can be, and who continues to break boundaries in pursuit of the finest expression of her highly individual holistic creativity and vision.
I hope you enjoy her story and world as much as I do.
How did MÁDARA come about?
When I was a little child, I spent my summers living at my grandmother’s countryside house, surrounded by forests. Every morning I set on an adventure alone of with few other kids from the nearing houses. We were exploring nature, building bunkers, making fire. My grandmother taught me that the forests and meadows are full of healing herbs… if I bruised my knee I should take a leave of a plantain, rub it and put in on the bruise, it would stop bleeding and promote regeneration.
I came back to my grandmother’s knowledge later on in my life, when I started to experience allergies form many synthetic products. I realised that the harsh and cold northern climate where I live has evolved plants with extraordinary properties over thousands of years. Those deep roots, bitter leaves and gnarled barks have all healed wounds and saved lives. That became my source of inspiration for creating MÁDARA – organic skincare made from ingredients harvested in northern and Arctic nature.
What’s your most beloved natural ingredient?
Call me the birch water queen – this is by far my No.1 skincare ingredient and beauty drink. Birch water is deeply rooted in the culture of people living in Northern countries like Latvia and Finland. As a child, I remember tapping birch water each spring (it flows just for one or two weeks on the outbreak of spring). We use it here as a traditional detox drink to boost health and energy, and also lose weight. It contains minerals like potassium, magnesium and calcium, a unique blend of amino acids (citrulline, glutamine, glutamic acid, asparagine, isoleucine, phenylalanine), enzymes and natural organic acids (malic acid, succinic acid, citric acid and fumaric acid).
MÁDARA was the first brand to run a cellular and dermatological studies on birch water, discovering that is has powerful anti-ageing effects. The original idea was to add hydrating benefits to the product, but after we saw the first research results it was clear that birch is a must-have ingredient for our anti-aging line TIME MIRACLE. Now birch water fully replaces regular water in all our anti-ageing products.
We have discovered two major effects of birch water: first, a strong antioxidant action on the skin cells, reducing environmental damage and reversing damage done to skin cell’s DNA. And second, similar to its activity on the tree promoting the growth of young leaves, birch water speeds up dermal cell regeneration by 25% (which is a lot of difference when it comes to cellular proliferation). It means that the cells of dermis and epidermis become younger, healthier and more active in synthesising youth proteins like collagen and elastin. A galactosidase (an ageing marker) test done on aged skin cells revealed that birch water returns them to their younger life cycle. It sounds like fiction, but these are precise and measurable indicators of skin regeneration that show how powerful birch sap is.
What are the main values underlying the brand?
I believe that best skincare goes deeper than skin. DEEPER THAN SKIN is the philosophical essence of MÁDARA, meaning that beauty is not just about making skin surface look great. Ingredients penetrate deeper into our bodies, and our environment. Sourcing, production and packaging processes all have their impacts. And after all, being beautiful is more linked to the harmony, wellbeing and self-appreciation of an individual than to the quality of outer layer of the skin. Being sustainable, human, trustworthy and transparent are very important values at MÁDARA.
Another hugely important thing here is science and innovation. I believe in nature, it is a fantastic source of active ingredients, but there are is also many innovative ingredients that wait to be discovered or be proven by science. In Latvia we have an enormous heritage of traditional “ethno” medical knowledge. Knowledge of healing herbs has been passed from generation to generation. At MÁDARA we take that knowledge as source of inspiration and invest in innovative research (in-vitro active ingredient studies on human cells etc) and dermatological studies to discover new actives for specific skin needs. There are 6 people with degrees what work on innovation to create fabulous and proven formulas.
What nourishes you most in your job?
It’s super simple: I work to make world a better place. It was just a month ago when I realised that this is my core motivation. I believe that this world is designed to be a great and happy place and I know that it is still on the way to its perfect state. With MÁDARA perhaps we try to “repair” our world in a very small but particular way – by making better skincare products for people and by striving to be a sustainable and totally open enterprise.
Besides MÁDARA, I work as a volunteer for MARTA, a fantastic NGO that provides support to victims of home violence and sexual abuse, mostly women and children. My volunteer work is another huge source of motivation, as I can clearly see how the organisation helps people who are in extreme crisis. According to survey done the European Commission, Nordic countries rate highest when it comes to home violence, maybe because these are societies with highest gender-equality and cases get reported…
How do you stay sane under the stresses of your career?
Gardening helps me. Also my kids help me, when I realised that being at home with two small children can sometimes more stressful that doing business. Five days at the factory allow me to rest before the weekend!
But yes of course – business is can be very stressful. The most intense time at MÁDARA was last year when we built a totally new factory of organic skincare. There were so many things to organise and sooo many deadlines to meet, it was insane. Taking a hot bath with a glass of champagne has saved me from going crazy.
What does natural beauty mean to you?
Talking about skincare, natural equals effective. Most powerful actives in any skincare (in both conventional or certified organic products) originate from nature. It means that an organic beauty product from head to toe is packed with powerful antioxidants, essential omegas, precious nutrients and strong anti-ageing actives that facilitate regeneration of skin in a natural way, providing obvious results.
On a more philosophical level, beauty is a mix of self-confidence, intelligence and good heart. That means that true beauty can only be natural. And that also means that beauty is totally democratic – we all have a chances to become beautiful.
Can you tell us a little bit about the ups and downs of your journey as a consciously minded female entrepreneur?
There are so many everyday downs that I tend to forget them as soon as an issue is resolved. Most of them are of managerial kind – packaging delayed, a client gone bankrupt, etc. But I definitely know my biggest up – that happened on the day when I met the other 3 co-founding women of MÁDARA – designer Liene Drazniece, marketing strategist Zane Tamane, and of course my sister Paula Tisenkopfa. Now our team has grown from 4 of to over 70 and we all are passionate of working together.
As a female entrepreneur and a feminist I must admit that I have never experienced any kind of discrimination just because I am a women. I recall just one funny case: we were negotiating a repeated purchase of cosmetic production equipment when the sales guy told me: “Years ago when I first saw you – I was sure that such a young girl in high-heels wouldn’t be able to buy equipment costing half a million.”
What is your dream for MÁDARA?
Well, one of my most longed-for dreams will soon become true – in August this year MÁDARA will open a new organic factory just five minutes’ drive from Riga Airport and it will be free to access for general public. Everyone can come to see how organic skincare is being produced, how the lab looks, how it smells. It is very important for me that MÁDARA is a producing brand, not a private-label brand, because this way we can create and produce the most advanced formulas and always be on the edge of innovation.
There are more dreams in the pipeline and they are all connected to new ingredient research. And the big dream that we all share at MÁDARA – to provide safe and great skincare products available to everyone.