Our StoryNew kinds of founder's
“My inspiration came from a mix of achieving in Beauty what Tesla has with cars, by the power of Nature in Avatar, a Taoist approach to business and a song from my youth: Steve Strange’s ‘Fade to Grey’.” Sue Y. Nabi
Created by Sue Y. Nabi and friend/co-founder Nicolas Vu, Orveda is a new-age skincare range that, based on the science of glow and understanding the skin as a “me-cosystem”, offers a healthy, holistic and empowered approach to beauty.
"Nicolas and I started working on Orveda in 2014 with a simple, shared vision: to do things in a better way. Not in a buzz way, not in a discounted way... just a better way: with an obsession with creating real value for money. Deeply inspired by a Taoist approach to business, we did things differently; not for the sake of being different, but because we believe alternatives are meant to be better.
To this effect, some may consider us “beauty disruptors” who, in studying the industry for 20 years, especially in my former role as president of L’Oréal and Lancôme, identified what didn’t work, what we didn’t like, didn’t believe in and pledged to do it simply and obsessionally better.
Emblematic to the frictions and dualities that sit at the heart of our products and brand - science and nature, ancient wisdom and futuristic possibility - Nicolas and I are two parts that, like yin and yang, make one whole.
Nicolas is our Chief Executive Officer. His role and vision has resulted in Orveda extending beyond experience; and, especially in-store, into entertainment.
The below is my story, in three parts, that starts in Algiers and continues where we find ourselves today: with Orveda." - Sue Y. Nabi
It started in Algiers, as a teen, seeing Isabella Rossellini in the pages of a magazine. The way the light touched her skin, her face: its luminosity. It was my first understanding of beauty as glow: as a light that comes from within. Little did I know it would become an image, an idea that, seared into my mind, ignited the search for my own Holy Grail: a personal quest for real beauty. Steve Strange and Ziggy Stardust rounded my vision from the pixels on a TV screen: of beauty as something that, defying convention, truly meant expression; the courage to be, and to be free.
“Since I was a teen, I always had an obsession with light. For me, a beautiful person has a light that comes from within: an inner glow. This is both from a philosophical as well as physiological perspective." Sue Y. Nabi
The light fell differently in Paris, but still my own beam of light and appreciation for beauty – and purpose – shone. In years, I had the chance to reach the top of beauty empires, spiraling my way up corporate towers with kindness and imagination.
I sought to transcend societal concepts of gender, colour, time and space. I sought to see beauty in the banal and opportunity when others saw only circumstance. I sought to bring positive visions to life, and developed creations rich in passion – with a focus on promise and performance beyond pure pleasure. I sought to create a certain kind of magic: seizing happiness in glass jars as a reminder to live life fully, joyfully, and I stamped it with the world’s most famous smile.
Yet seasons passed and endings ushered in new beginnings. Winter came and I knew it was time for revival: for new life. My relentless role had taken its toll – on my body and mind. Along with La Tour Eiffel and my seat at the top, I left behind the things I had come to rely on to thrive – from sleeping pills to quick-fix, external mixes – and landed myself on a new stage... in London.
“Today, beauty (and the desire for beauty) is all about glow, light, luminosity, and not only looking but feeling healthy, in ways that go beyond a smoother-looking or tighter skin.” Sue Y. Nabi
Swapping West for East and doctors for dharma, I delved into a journey within to understand my own health karma. The Taoist belief of Nature being strongest, and the power of letting things flow, resonated and reverberated like a truth ringing in my head like a gong: that the real gold, of today and tomorrow, lives only inside us. Ayurvedic medicines echoed this idea and, coupled with Naturopathy, my body started following – and flourishing from – a natural, self-healing routine. These three ancient pillars formed the foundation to my thinking of how healthy beauty should be: that we should work with skin, not against it, to release the power that exists within it.
This tied seamlessly into my beliefs that defied the reductionist thinking of DNA: that no one is born with an already-written history; that we are the masters and mistresses of our destinies. And so it happened that, one day, in Hyde Park, I realised I had hit upon my own Rosetta Stone. I knew this vision of new-age beauty would, finally, marry my lifelong ideas of beauty and light, science and nature, wellness within and out; showing completeness in duality, and the necessity of two sides to make a perfect whole.
And so I set off on a mission: putting all I'd learnt about self-healing, mixed with 20 years of science and expertise from the world’s biggest beauty empire, and started applying it to skin.
As a trained scientist, I understood that a new vision of beauty as health required, first, strengthening the barrier of the skin. Per the holistic health of the gut, I recognized good bacteria as skin’s next frontier – understanding it, along with yeast and enzymes as the clean, green beauty factories of the future. Rather than weakening the skin’s microflora with retinols and irritating actives, I looked at how to empower it so as to rejuvenate skin from within. For me, the “No Pain, No Gain” era is dead. Gone. A benevolent and comprehensive way of creating the light I'd always known as beauty was born. I called it: The Science of Glow.
“The Science of tomorrow is as kind to the skin as possible. It doesn’t change the skin’s pH, strip it of its natural oils or impact on its microflora. Bacteria, yeast and enzymes — made possible through the power of biotechnology — is to beauty what electricity is to the modern-day cars such as Tesla.” Sue Y. Nabi
ANCIENT WISDOM X FUTURE POSSIBILITY
Inspired by the wonder of Nature and the progress of Science, I fused my two brains – the scientific and the imaginative – and started farming bacteria in a lab. I chose a marine enzyme from the Northern Californian coast that, teeming with life and the resilience to survive in fiery, volcanic waters, I knew would offer excellent first defense for the skin’s barriers. Through the power of Biotechnology, I started multiplying it, to infinity, to create actives designed to have no impact on Planet Earth, its resources or fragile ecosystems.
With an eye on future possibility and an ear to ancient wisdoms, I added a natural prebiotic to my mix as well Mongolian bio-fermented Kombucha black tea. Breathing with life and mysticism, this age-old tradition offered keys to unlocking the clarity and luminosity skin needs to glow, with health, from within.
The forest – beneath the sky and the sea – abundantly provided me with ingredients: water from green bamboo, moringa seeds, clover, pink lilac, coconut oil, papaya, clay, seaweed... I mixed them with proven cosmetic actives – Hyaluronic Acids, Niacinamide, Riboflavin – and set about turning oils into milks and powders into clay, hand-brewing creams and churning vegan butters. My crème de la crème is a magical lotion and liquid “skin re-set” potion. Proven as an all-in-one “glow shot” for the skin, The Healing Sap™ is so soothing and self-healing, it seems like something untapped from the Tree of Life itself. A master Parisian perfumer helped me with his own magic touch: capturing the scent of the forest – of kindness, and the buds of pure galbanum – in a single spray.
Choosing health over superficial beauty at every turn, and letting not the smallest detail slip from sight, I added my expertise, hands-on passion and a desire to create the seemingly impossible: a green yet efficient, ancient yet futuristic, powerful yet gentle, creative yet scientific, alternative beauty line and an idea that, hopefully, will stand the test of time.
Throughout my life, opening doors to opportunities and myself to chance encounters, I've sought to create new universes. I've always imagined a real-life fantastic future that speaks of infinite possibility and, through Orveda, my intention was to birth a new-age frontier of beauty. I wanted to show a new way: a lighter, brighter way. And I hope to change tomorrow, today.