SWT: We’ve known each other well over a decade; tell us why you got into the spa wellness industry?
After eight years climbing the corporate ladder in the 90’s and having two kids in quick succession both under the age of three I felt I was missing something. I wasn’t getting that same sense of fulfilment from my career and at the ripe old age of 31 felt burn out! I was searching for a way to live a more meaningful life. The key turning point was coming home close to midnight after a 15 hour day and not having spent any of it with my babies. I decided then that this wasn’t the life I wanted. I left my well-paying job, had a 6 month hiatus and then felt the urge to get back into action - as I decided I wasn’t cut out to be a full-time stay at home mum! I investigated a few different industries and then settled on the spa industry which in the early 2000’s had just started to get popular. I was drawn to the concept of spa as a healing centre, somewhere that busy and stressed out people could escape to and gain a moment of respite. I decided then that I wanted to offer a sanctuary of calm and peace for other busy people, parents and corporates who were struggling with the pressures of a too busy life. It was about offering a place of escape and restoration, where they would feel nurtured and cared for.
|Aika - Lighthouse|
I wanted to create a space for true healing rather than just somewhere to have a nice pampering treatment. The concept of my spa ‘Spa Samsara’ was to create a total journey of wellness and our mission was to ‘take you on a journey of discovery by delighting your senses, inspiring your mind and uplifting your spirit.’ From day one we offered naturopathic consultations with an experienced naturopath, Ayurvedic consultations with an accredited Ayurvedic doctor from Kerala, Shiatsu with a Japanese therapist, Thai massage with a Thai trained therapist and Reiki healing from a Reiki master, along with the usual conventional spa treatments such as massage, body treatments and facials. Our clients loved coming into our sacred space which I designed to be a calm and nurturing environment with an Asian influence.
SWT: You’ve created Aika Wellness, I’m impressed with you research, knowledge & integrity. Why Aika, an Ayurvedic product?
I grew up in Sri Lanka and spent my childhood there before my family migrated to Australia in the mid 80’s. I was surrounded by what I now understand as an Ayurvedic lifestyle but at the time this was just how we lived. We ate in line with what was freshly available and I remember that food was always sourced daily from the markets and each meal was cooked with the correct amount of spices and herbs to create a balanced meal. The flavours (rasa) and combination of dishes at each meal was carefully considered and my maternal grandmother who lived with us was a great cook and would decide if the food needed more saltiness, sourness, sweetness or bitterness. Food was classified as either heating or cooling and when we were sick my sister and I were given herbal remedies and daily oil massages were the norm. We would only see an allopathic doctor on the rare occasion and most of our childhood illnesses were treated at home by my grandmother’s and mother’s natural knowledge of herbal medicine handed down over years. Ayurveda is my heritage and these memories stayed with me long after I came to Australia which is why I was determined to include Ayurveda in my spa and I’m so proud that Spa Samsara was the first spa in Melbourne to include Ayurveda as a modality.
Over the nine years I ran my two beautiful spas I began to research ingredients in skincare and was shocked to find that the products I stocked in my spa contained many questionable and synthetic ingredients. I was quite upset to have been told by the skincare companies who I trusted that these products were natural and organic when in fact they were not. As I continued my research I discovered that over the course of an adult woman’s lifetime, we put over 2 million chemicals and ingredients on our skin – that’s a huge amount! I began asking: how do these chemicals behave once they are inside the body? What harm do they cause? How does our body eliminate or store these chemicals? How do they contribute to toxic body burden? As our skin absorbs over 60% of what we put on it, we really need to make sure the things we put on our faces and bodies aren’t harmful to our skin or our overall health.
I started to look for a 100% organic and pure range that was not only safe but also luxurious and one that offered true wellness beyond beauty and fitted into my holistic spa. As I kept researching I became increasingly frustrated at the lack of certified organic, luxurious and safe spa products that offered a wide selection of treatments which could be tailored for each individual’s specific needs. I loved nurturing my clients and knew what they wanted: they wanted pure, certified organic skincare products they could trust.
I realised that if I wanted the type of skincare that I would be happy to use on myself and my clients then I would need to create it. Because I have a degree in psychology I understand the importance of emotional and mental health and the way they impact on our physical and overall wellness. I wanted to create products that contributed to people’s whole health, wellbeing and peace of mind, beyond just skin. An Ayurvedic range was the natural choice for me as it is the world’s oldest and most complete system of wellness and health, encompasses physical, mental and emotional health and is the system of healing that I grew up with. It was also important to me to create a product range that authentically backed up it’s claims of being organic and was certified organic to the highest level possible in Australia.
I spent years researching Ayurveda, developing our own formulations, setting up our own certified organic manufacturing facility ‘The Lighthouse’, going down the avenue of getting organic certification for all Aika products and after 14 years of concentrated research and development I finally launched Aika in November 2017 . To my utter delight Aika won the Organic Cosmetic of the Year by Australian Organic in our launch year which is testament to Aika’s quality and purity.
No it was a long hard road! It took me years to research certified organic suppliers as we need to show certification for our entire supply chain, from soil to your skin. As we have over 120 individual ingredients in over 30 products this took quite a while! We also get audited annually and have to maintain countless records of all our purchasing, formulations, manufacturing, ingredient and label claims, storage and distribution in line with organic certification principles and ecological sustainability. Winning the award as the best organic skincare range in Australia in 2017 our launch year was amazing and totally validated all that hard work!
SWT: Because it’s an Ayurvedic skin care, is it difficult to determine which product a person should choose?
Despite being complex in creation Aika is beautifully simple to use. The products are created specifically for each Ayurvedic dosha or mind-body type. If you know what Ayurvedic dosha you are it is simply a matter of picking the products in that dosha range. If you are unsure then we have an interactive online quiz that you can take which guides you to discover your predominant dosha.
Ayurveda places great importance on Dinacharya or daily rituals to take care of our body, mind and spirit. Aika products and rituals are created in line with this concept of Dinacharya and our body’s natural circadian bio-rhythms and encourage us to set aside precious time each day to devote to our self-care. Our body’s needs in the daytime are different than that at night. We have created products that are ideal to use in the morning which we call our ‘Arise Ritual’ products and those that are ideal for night time which we call our ‘Retreat Ritual’ products. These rituals help you bookend your day with a sacred act of self-care and inner reflection and each product comes with a little ritual card, instructions on how to use it and affirmation to help you achieve this.
SWT: A final cheeky question. What’s your little bad vice?
I am rather partial to the French diet and love nothing better than a nice glass of organic wine and some delicious organic cheese and chocolate at the end of the week while putting my feet up.
SWT: That sounds delicious and bliss. Well done!
Take a look, do the dosha quiz and do try Aika Wellness. Eranthi's passion, dedication and knowledge to creating Aika is inspiring. I'm predominately Vata and am looking forward to using the Vata Body Polish and rejuvenating around my eyes with the Tri Dosha Eye Balm! ~ Karen owner Spa Wellness Travel