Klara K. Ibarra is the founder, formulator and medicine-maker of one of Opal Avenue’s newer lines, Nelum Botanics. The line, she says, is about reconnecting people to nature’s wonders for both their health and beautifying needs. Klara is committed to creating the purest, natural skincare products she can, with ingredients that are sourced from nature and are also minimally processed so that their intrinsic healing properties are preserved. She creates skincare remedies drawing from both ancient and new wisdom from around the world to deliver unique results. Using only nature’s finest and nutrient-rich botanicals, Nelum Botanics specializes in formulas that address the needs of mature skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, blemished skin and combinations of all. Plus, the line is incredibly eco-friendly and made in small batches or made-to-order to ensure freshness. Let’s dive a little deeper into the healing powers of Nelum Botanics, with a chat with Klara.
You’ve based your line and its formulas on herbal healing. Tell us why that’s important to you and to Nelum Botanics.
Ohhh, I love this question! Herbal healing is so important to me/Nelum Botanics on many levels. From as early as I could remember, I wanted to make the world a better place. Sounds so cliché, I know, but honestly, it’s what I wanted to do.
After studying international affairs and education, I decided I wanted to be an herbalist, because after everything I learned coupled with those loving feelings brewing wild inside me after becoming a mother, I realized that our disconnectedness to nature and people was the root of our global problems. And the impact of that was (and is) affecting our health, our environment, our global economy and all those dependent on that economy.
I wanted to help people to fall back in love with nature by seeing how amazing nature is in all that it provides us with. I felt that if I could reignite that love, people would take better care of Mother Earth; they would slow down their avid obsession with modernism, which results in the use of more “technicalized” products that are synthetically manufactured with harmful ingredients, poisoning our health, our soil, our water sources, our wildlife… Why turn to these things as a sign of progress when ancient healing practices produce true results and work in harmony with all those that share this earth?
I wanted to bring back those ancient ways as a statement. This desire of mine also stems from my childhood (and again, studies as an adult) where it became my mission to protect cultural diversity by promoting the beautiful ways of old traditional cultures.
You have a forest garden project in Kenya. Tell us how that supports the ethos of Nelum.
Yes, I do! Nelum Botanics is not only about skincare. It’s about creating a greener, more sustainable world… a world of justice and cultural empowerment. Creating a forest garden in Kenya allows the community of Chemolingot to access food and establish food sovereignty so that their community can thrive. Unlike traditional development initiatives, the forest garden gives ownership to the project, allows for sustainability and focuses on greening the land.
Nelum has face, body, baby and pain relief products. Why these categories?
These are simply categories I love formulating for. I had to make my children baby products when they were wee ones—I couldn’t bear to see the horrific ingredients in baby products, so I made my own using traditional remedies and concoctions that made sense to me.
The face…. I love making remedies for the face—with our faces being exposed (as opposed to the rest of body that’s always covered up), it lends itself to more creativity and challenge, and since people are so concerned with their face, it’s an excellent opportunity to introduce the myriad healing abilities nature provides.
And then the body… Well, we can’t neglect that, especially when some of us are prone to dry, cracked skin, which by the way, is no longer an issue for me (wink).
As for herbal pain relief… Someone is always getting bit or cut, or is in need of a muscle pain relief. Our Natural Herbal Salve was actually my very first product that I developed when I was 20 to cure my dry spots. The ingredients I used happened to also be excellent for bites and cuts! I developed it further so that it was bulletproof. 😉
What’s Nelum’s hero product?
Our hero product—ohhh that’s so hard to say. I really can’t choose!
Natural Herbal Salve—This one is a long love. It’s really cheap so anyone can afford this as opposed to a $63 body oil. It being more accessible allows for many to enjoy it. It’s a favorite because it miraculously removes pain instantly. I don’t care what the FDA says about not making claims—because there is no other way around it! It heals anything you put it on.
The Rosehip & Chamomile Body Oil is a favorite because people simply adore the smell and the texture. Almost everyone who tries it is shocked at how easily absorbed it is, and how amazing it leaves their skin. It’s never what they expected from an oil.
Our Botanical Mud Mask is fairly new but everyone who is courageous enough to use this mud on their face is floored by the difference they see after one application. People rave about it all the time. It makes me really proud because this was born from a French remedy my mother would make me (for skin problems to sprains). But then I tweaked it to combine it with some remedies from Latin America.
On top of being full of healing ingredients, Nelum Botanics is also really eco-friendly. Tell us more about that side of things.
We are an eco-friendly brand [in so many ways]. Our labels are printed by a small family company that uses sustainable energy. Print material, when used, is also made by a small print family company using sustainable energy, vegetable ink (not soy), and 100 percent recycled paper.
Packaging boxes—the pretty boxes people get for individual orders are 100 percent post-consumer used and hand-painted with eco-safe ink. Large packaging boxes for wholesale are also post-consumer used but I can’t paint those. 😉
Baggies are 100 percent organic hemp made by a collective of women rescued from the sex industry. Sewing is their enterprise that sustains their studies, therapy and livelihood. It’s direct trade all the way!
More than 80 percent of our botanical ingredients are fairly traded and are grown under eco-friendly conditions!
What do you look for in a retailer for your line?
I like working with kind, honest and responsive retailers. It’s business out there, but human connection is so important to me and Nelum Botanics—ignoring, or being snobbish about natural healing… no way. It’s equally important for me to work with retailers that understand natural/ botanical ingredients, who appreciate uniqueness, and value eco-friendly practices. If they uphold eco-friendly practices, it’s even better, but if they don’t, but can still value that I do, then that’s wonderful.
Do you have anything new in the works for Nelum? What can you share?
I do, I do, I do…. Waiting to launch though before I announce anything. 🙂