1) You spent a long career as a chef and restaurant owner in the Madison, Wisconsin area. In your 70’s, you have now become an entrepreneur, in an entirely new area, as co-founder of Lola Arnao Sustainable Beauty. Tell us what inspired you to launch this new career with your daughter, Angela Gargano.
This idea came about organically and really grew out of my daughter and my desire to make the switch to cleaner, more sustainable products in our personal care routines. My daughter, Angela, struggled to find body care products that both didn’t irritate her ultra-sensitive skin and were eco-friendly. After seeing her frustration, I decided to go into the kitchen and see if I could whip something up for her that was made from natural ingredients and wouldn’t irritate her skin. After much trial and error and testing, we came up with our first product — a fragrance-free shave bar filled with good-for-you ingredients like oat oil and mango butter to be used with a shaving brush to create lather (instead of drying chemicals). We tested with friends and family and Lola Arnao Beauty was born. Our fragrance-free solid lotion bar followed soon after and we hope to continue to add new sustainable products for sensitive skin soon!
I bring the same passion that I had for cooking to crafting our products at Lola Arnao. Whether it’s sourcing the best apricot kernel oil from Spain or the best rose clay from France, I care about where our ingredients come from. I create ‘recipes’ that are effective at helping calm sensitive skin and I believe that what we put on our body matters just as much as what we put in our body!
2) Can you explain what sustainable skincare means and why it is particularly relevant for menopausal skin conditions?
To me, sustainable skincare is skincare that’s good for our skin, our health, and the environment. Plastic waste and toxic chemicals are ubiquitous in skincare right now which is why we wanted to create something different – plant-based skincare without the plastic waste.
As a chef for many years, my skin was exposed to heat and other chemicals. Over time, I developed rosacea from these conditions and my skin was constantly red and itchy. As a chef I always read ingredients on food so I started to read the ingredients on personal cleansers and moisturizers. Wow! Our skin absorbs these ingredients and some should simply not be on our skin or in our bodies. Now I carefully read cosmetic labels. I want to know what’s in my skincare; just like I want to know what’s in my food.
Although menopause affects our skin – as the loss of estrogen can make it drier and more sensitive – ironically now I’m post-menopausal and my skin is in the best condition of my life. Although the changes that come to our skin during menopause are challenging, if we’re kind to our skin during this time our skin will thank us. I definitely recommend switching to fragrance-free and chemical-free skincare and moisturizing often – try our plum oil (launching this fall!) for a really effective facial moisturizer. Switching to clean, simple and plant-based skincare has been transformative!
3) What’s your ambition for the business and how can the ROAR community learn more about your offerings?
My ambition for Lola Arnao Beauty is to bring awareness to the importance of cutting chemicals and plastic out of our personal care products. I would love to see a world where there was no single use plastic – and more plant-based clean beauty!
In addition, I love that we’re sharing a message that it’s important for all of us to take time for self-care. Be kind to your skin…and yourself at every stage of your life. You deserve it!
4) What advice would you give someone who is reticent about launching into a new venture in the second half of life?
First and foremost, throw away the “I’m old’ mindset. Have you always wanted to start a business? Do something out of your comfort zone, like learn a new language or start a new hobby? My advice is to just jump in and do it.
In the world of entrepreneurship, the conventional wisdom is that successful entrepreneurs are young people that are open to taking risks because of their age. That couldn’t be further from the truth! In fact, statistics show that the most successful entrepreneurs are those who launch in middle-age and beyond. I believe that all of the life and work wisdom we’ve accumulated gives us an edge and helps propel us towards success. There’s no reason why you can’t turn your dreams into reality.