Feminist, entrepreneur, generous and joyful, Helena created Mawena to help herself feel comfortable in her own skin and beautiful in her own life.
Helena, tell us a bit about yourself. What was your background before Mawena?
Before launching my brand I worked in international relations. From COP 21 negotiations to a “think tank” on how to manage armed conflicts in Africa, to presidential elections in Guinea, I dedicated my time to travelling the world and changing it for the better. Meetings which can last entire days (and nights) mean that I am always travelling between two places, from New York to Geneva, Kenya to Seoul. It’s a job I’m passionate about that follows on from my educational background (political sciences and international relations, I speak 7 languages…) and that I thoroughly enjoy.
Geopolitics is a true passion of mine and my way to ensure a just distribution between people – a way to rebalance, at my own humble level, the injustices of the world.
How was Mawena created?
Mawena was created a few years ago after a road trip to Mexico with my sister, where we lived with Mayan women. The idea was to create a brand inspired by the beauty secrets shared between these women, from mother to daughter, since the beginning of time. There’s something magical about these moments of feminine connection, and that’s what I wanted to convey through Mawena.
I was born in Africa and lived there with my mother. For me it was normal. Living in Mexico with the Mayan women felt just as normal for me too.
With Mawena I wanted a 100% natural, organic and slow brand, without compromising the human values that I see as fundamental: honesty, transparency and authenticity.
We live in a globalised world. We are all perfectly aware that what we consume here in Paris has an impact on someone on the other side of the world. So naturally, I wanted to create a 100% female collaboration with the Mayan women. It’s important to have a positive impact on others.
How do you develop a new product?
I develop my products according to my desires. I must confess that I was my brand’s first customer. I say it all the time – if another brand had put forward the values that Mawena promotes, I never would have created Mawena. Like a true green addict, I use my own initiative on all the creations. Then I carry out “performance tests” with clients to get their feedback on the products.
That’s how we make all our final choices: from the packaging to the texture of the product.
This year will be your first time at the Who’s Next trade show… what are your expectations?
This will be our very first trade show, so I have many expectations. Our products have only been on sale since July 2018 but we’ve made most of our revenue through B-to-B in France and abroad, including concept stores. So it felt natural to take part in the biggest concept store in the world to get to know buyers from all over the world.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
I am a beauty globe trotter. I have this constant desire to meet new people and discover their lifestyles, their passions and their beauty rituals. That’s why this summer I’ll be returning to Madagascar as part of a new project for Mawena: the beauty trip.
It’s a new beauty meeting place dedicated to all the curious people out there who want to explore the world through its women. It’s a “backpacking” trip with a female filmmaker and a 4×4 vehicle that we’re going to share on our social media.
The aim: embark on the discovery of Madagascan beauty rituals through a beauty trip. We’re going to travel the island and meet ordinary women who do extraordinary things: a super talented rapper who isn’t afraid of speaking her mind, a YouTuber who’s going to tell us about Madagascan beauty rituals and the various plants they use in their beauty routines, a meeting with 3 generations of women: a grandmother, mother and daughter, and also traditional healers. It just goes to show that beauty isn’t superficial! There are still many things to discover and share.
For Mawena, I still have many projects and dreams in mind. I don’t wait for trends. My personality and my curious nature mean that I have already achieved my launch schedule for new products until 2020!
Interview in collaboration with Inside Closet. Read the full article here.