Growing up in a nomadic lifestyle led by parents who traveled across the West using pack donkeys laid the groundwork for Nieves Rathbun‘s organic body care line, By Nieves. Exposure to alternative remedies through her travels and exploration from a young age, she went on to combine her knowledge into a line of products for the face, body and hair. Read on to discover more about this Oakland expert in naturally-crafted beauty.
How did growing up with such a unique lifestyle influence your decision to get into skincare and body products? Growing up in the wilderness and in the counterculture instilled a sense of interdependence and an awareness of immediate consequence. It’s hard to ignore nature when you’re surrounded by it. I think this leads to a feeling of responsibility and makes me question how a product or ingredient is made and what does it affect after we wash it down the drain. Then as a career choice, even though I’m attracted to herbal medicine and nutrition, I’m enamored with glamorous fancy things so I gravitated to skincare and perfuming.
After being in the skincare industry for a while, I started wondering there weren’t more simple and lovely products out there and thought why doesn’t some one just put together this and this and that it would be so great? So I mixed up some things, loved them and the rest is history (in the making).
Tell us a little about your childhood. How were you able to travel and move around so much? I was raised by my father, who is an intellectual hippie that renounced materialism to a large degree. We were able to survive on very modest means, which meant he didn’t have to actually make a lot of money. When he did, it was mostly with forestry work, tree planting, trail maintenance and stuff like that.
What makes By Nieves skincare differ from other skin care lines? I only use very natural ingredients…that’s why you don’t see any lotions, serums or cleansers that would require emulsifiers, surfactants and preservatives. I think what sets By Nieves apart is that I use simple recognizable, effective ingredients and I serve them up with sassy sincerity and classic packaging. Honestly, I’m not the only one doing this and that’s great. I’d love it if there were lots and lots of successful artisan skincare companies rather than just a few huge companies (oops my hippie roots are showing!)
What are your most popular products? I developed each of my five products to fill a particular need in my routine, so I can’t live without any of them. But if I had to choose one, it’d be the C Perfect Skin…I play around with other products sometimes (‘cuz I love skincare stuff), but nothing quite does it for me like the good old C Perfect Skin. Oh and it is the number one seller, too.
After such extensive travels, where did you decide to settle down? I’m located in Oakland on what some people call the Oakland Riviera, a funky little artist enclave on 5th Ave. I’m in the process of moving some of my business to Petrolia, California on the Lost Coast. My husband grew up there, and it’s time to help his aging mama and let our boy Jasper run wild in the hills. I’ve been longing to get back to the woods…back to my remote country roots. I will maintain an Oakland office and continue to produce some products here. I will continue to spend plenty of time in the Bay Area to do events, stay in touch with clients and keep my finger on the pulse of the big City life.
Photos courtesy of Nieves Rathbun
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