It all started in 2007, when Katharine L’Heureux’s skincare was confiscated by airport security on her way to Morocco. Desperate to moisturize her parched skin, she rushed to the Medina market and nabbed a bottle of their local beauty potion, argan oil, which was hand-pressed by the neighboring Berber women. Her skin was instantly transformed, plumping to life with a particular moisture and smoothness.Katharine brought the bottle back to her native San Francisco, and when friends and family had the same reaction to the oily elixir, she knew it was time to take action.“I decided to embark on Kahina to create the line of skincare that I wanted—simple, organic, ethically produced, effective and beautifully packaged,” says Katharine. Kahina Giving Beauty has now reached its fifth year, and Katharine continues to touch every aspect of the brand, from creating new product ideas to filling samples. Though her schedule is hectic, and there’s no typical workday, she makes sure to find balance in her life—whether it’s fitting in a morning yoga class, walking her son to school everyday, or sneaking away for a cozy weekend upstate.
1. Hometown?San Francisco2. What time do you like to be at your desk?I work from home, so I’m at my desk with my first cup of coffee at 7 a.m. checking emails. It’s a bad habit.3. What’s your morning routine?After I’ve checked emails and read the paper, I take my youngest son to school in the neighborhood. If I can fit it in, I’ll take a yoga class before the day gets too crazy.4. Do you have a beauty routine or go-to product?I use only and all Kahina products for face and body. In the evening, I cleanse, mist, then moisturize with the Serum, and finish with the Eye Cream. In the morning, I skip the cleansing step, but use Toning Mist, the Serum, Facial Lotion and Eye Serum. Twice a week, I use our Antioxidant Mask to detoxify and exfoliate my skin. To moisturize my body and calm myself at the end of a long day, I shower with our exfoliating Argan Soap scented with rosemary and lavender and slather on our new Body Serum before bed. The scents of vetiver, sandalwood, rose and neroli are incredibly calming, and the spice notes of cumin and clove are warming.5. How would you describe a typical workday?There is no typical workday. This week, I’m busy with beauty editor meetings to launch our next product. Next week, I’m traveling to Denver to introduce Kahina to the staff at a new store there. In between, I’m working on new product development, overseeing production, and meeting with buyers, in addition to the day-to-day stuff that needs to be done like the bookkeeping and filling samples. I love it all!
6. Proudest professional achievement?Reaching our fifth year in business after having launched Kahina at the beginning of a recession.7. Power lunch or lunch at desk?Desk.8. What was your previous job? How do these skills benefit your current work?Before Kahina, I was a partner in a PR firm that I co-founded in San Francisco. The writing and communication skills I developed in PR have been extremely valuable, and I am inspired by so many of the entrepreneurial companies I represented.9. Why did you create the brand?I created Kahina because I felt a need in my own life for high-quality organic skincare that delivers real skincare solutions—and that looks beautiful on the shelf.10. How did you fund it?Begged and borrowed.11. What’s your favorite part about your job?I love developing new products. It’s so much fun to explore scents, textures and ingredients. And, of course, traveling to the argan forests in Morocco and spending time with the Berber women.12. What’s a professional obstacle you faced, and you how did you resolve it?From production and logistics issues to working in a foreign country where I’m unfamiliar with the customs…there have been so many! I rely on a Moroccan saying: “You need to give time to time.” I’ve come to trust my instincts and realize that things usually work themselves out.13. First product you created?Our Facial Lotion.14. Inspiration behind your skincare?The Berber women of Morocco who do the work of extracting the argan oil. It’s their simplicity and beauty, both inner and outer, that I have tried to express through Kahina. Spending time with them continually motivates me and inspires me.15. Favorite product ingredient?Argan oil of course!16. 3 key words for entrepreneurial success?Enthusiasm, humor, resilience.17. Describe your ideal weekend?My ideal weekend is spent at home with my husband and our three kids and dog in our home in upstate New York. We unplug, cook meals together, take hikes, read books and do a fair bit of napping.18. Do you have a business mentor?I look to my father a lot. He was a stockbroker in San Francisco in the 60s and 70s before moving to the Napa Valley full-time to run our family vineyard. He offers sound business advice, but he has also shown me the importance of keeping things in perspective, being kind, and finding balance in life.