Like many of us, Anna Ayers formed a deep bond with her hair stylist.

“Our life’s journey goes back to hair,” said Ayers of her first encounter with her husband, Fabian Lliguin. “I studied fashion design and had moved to New York to do my work. I met Fabian at the salon, and he told me about the trips he was taking and the work he was doing in the Amazon. Then, he started telling me about what was going on there, and how the people didn’t have basic information and were being taken advantage of. I’m a Libra, so I guess I’m always seeking justice. So, when Fabian asked me to go with him on one of his trips, I went, and I found my calling there as well,” Ayers said. That was more than 16 years ago, and Lliguin has since become Ayers’s partner in business — and in life.

“We started as environmentalists,” Ayers said. “We have a non-profit, Ecoagents [which helps safeguard untouched natural areas], and we were looking for ways to help indigenous populations in the Amazonian Rainforest facing globalization. Eventually, Fabian closed his salon and began bringing the local people information about their land and human rights. Doing this work led him to learn about rahua oil [observed to turn brittle, lifeless strands shiny and healthy], which became the basis of the brand,” she said.

Rahua’s Sustainable Origins

Deep in the Amazonian Rainforest, “there were small groups of women making rahua — the men gather the seeds and bring it to homes, but once it gets there, the women take over and do the processing and making of the oil,” Ayers explained. “It’s not over-harvested — no trees are harmed in the making of the oil. The local people use seeds from one area, then go to another.”

Today, Ayers and Lliguin are helping preserve 700,000 acres of Amazonian Rainforest in perpetuity. And Rahua goes beyond being a carbon-negative company, generating an oxygen surplus with every bottle of a Rahua product purchased.

“This is our mission. The Amazonian Rainforest is the oxygen we rely on. It sequesters the C02 we’re producing. It’s biodiversity and ancestral wisdom, and the medicines of the present and future. The world gives us plenty if we use things responsibly,” Ayers said.

What Others Can Learn About Sustainability Through Rahua’s Experience

“It’s important to think about sustainability first, before you do anything. It’s best if it’s not an afterthought,” Ayers said. “We weren’t business people when we started, we were creative people looking for a solution.”

Another thing to keep in mind, Ayers noted, is that when you start a business, “a lot of people are going to tell you ‘no’. But just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. Stay driven and focused,” she advised.

Rahua’s Plastics Initiative

Anna Ayers cleans up plastic

Ayers is clear that Rahua does use plastic. “Plastics are very good if you have one piece only and you use it for a very long time. It’s a durable material. The problem is the over-consumption. In cases where we can’t use glass, we’re using PET1 plastic,” Ayers said. “It is the most recycled globally.”

Rahua also offers refills on its best-selling products. “But first and foremost, we make the most concentrated products we can. If you use less, you re-buy less. You might need one instead of three,” Ayers said.

Ayers and Lliguin recently set their sights on preserving another corner of the world that is crucial to biodiversity: the Galapagos Islands.

“Ecoagents has a coast-line cleanup that we do there. There’s a lot of plastic and debris that washes up on shore. So, we work with local fishermen who know where the trash is going,” Ayers said. “Unfortunately, the trash keeps coming, so we keep repeating the cleanup because these areas are the nesting grounds for some indigenous species you can’t find anywhere else,” she said.

Rahua’s Enchanted Island Collection

Rahua Enchanted Island Body Glow collection

Ten percent of the proceeds from sales of Rahua’s new Enchanted Island Body Glow collection go to help the cleanup efforts in the Galapagos, an initiative named The Pink Flamingo Project. The collection is composed of a wash, serum, and cream that smell like “an island vacation,” Ayers said. They also feature a plant-based collagen booster from horsetail extract, olive-oil derived hyaluronic acid, antioxidant-rich achiote sourced from the rainforest — and, of course, rahua oil.