How does an economist end up being an organic beauty brand founder? Fed up of the daily humdrum at the age of 30, Elena Alarcon, who was working as a financial manager in a chemical company in her native city of Barcelona, headed away from the world of industrialization into the world of the unknown, ready to explore new lands.
Fascinated by the natural and often unique ingredients she found during her travels, Elena’s business idea germinated.
“I would call myself an economist in my head, and a biologist in my heart. I guess that is how my venture began.”
Her entrepreneurial spirit found her, and with nature by her side, Elena began the adventure of Ami Iyök, which is available in luxury spas and niche perfumeries, as well as at its online shop.
The name Ami Iyök comes from an ancient tribe in the Costa Rican rainforest who I met during one of my travels around Central and South America. The shaman of this tribe would call to Mother Earth – or Iyök Ami.
Discovering new and effective ingredients that were known locally but had not yet broken ground in the mass beauty industry became a passion to Elena, who just loved the unusual. By observing the locals, trying ingredients out herself, and with her biological background that allowed her to understand them better, she could easily verify efficacy.
“The journey is never going to be over. I still love to travel and research around the world to find what I consider are the best and most effective ingredients.”
“One day it might be I come across an ancestral oil, the other, a vegetable known only to a remote culture. That’s all part of the fun of working with nature!”
From the Peruvian Amazon red resin of Dragon’s Blood, used as an ancient medicine, to Argan oil of the Mediterranean, to the perfume-infused oil of organic Monoi Tahiti, which comes from the petals of the gardenias of Tahiti, there is an element of mystery and intrigue added!
Ami Iyök hasn’t forgotten popular ingredients either, such as star anise, lemongrass, hibiscus, chamomile, and aloe vera, because the most important element of her products are that they are effective.
Superfoods are one such area that play a major role in her organic beauty products, such as Sacha Inchi, a type of Incan peanut, of all things!
It is important for the brand to source all its ingredients sustainably and responsibly, so Elena takes time to find people and companies that share Ami Iyök’s philosophy.
“If the ingredient is not from a responsive origin it doesn’t interest us! Sometimes it’s difficult to find them, but when you connect with cooperatives who appreciate what we do, it’s really easy to work with them.”
Customers who invest in the philosophy are key to the company, so the brand has been certified by NaTrue and EcoControl, to guarantee an extra layer of transparency. The products are proudly cruelty free too. The packaging is similarly carefully considered, emanating its belief in nature, effectiveness and love, from reusable designs to violet glass jars to improve the product’s shelf life.
For Ami Iyök, taking care of nature is not just the earth and people but also animals. During her travels, Elena found that many of the partners the brand works with are interconnected with animals, therefore she created a special product called My Pet Soap, that shares its profits in a collaboration with Care Highway International. This NGO fights against animal exploitation, bio piracy, and supports fair trade principles in vulnerable communities.
Some of the bestselling products are the bio facial cleanser, Green Shaman, popular in Hong Kong and the Photoshop Oil, a body oil that provides a wonderful glow and tan which is a hit in Spain.
One of the more unusual and exciting products, and opt for Slow Liquid, which is brimming with pure oils and resins from across the world, ideal for pampering newborn babies. The bottle is also uniquely designed, in a classic laboratory ErlenMeyer shape.
Look out for more of Ami Iyök’s products as the brand continually develops and forges new global partnerships aligned with its natural philosophy.