Protect Your Split Ends and the Rainforest

Anna Ayers and her husband Fabian Lliguin are founders of the cult-favorite, plant-based hair and body care brand, Rahua, which was born out of a mutual passion for the Amazon rainforest and environmental preservation. Their products offer a chance to reconnect with nature — an important value for Anna in both her everyday life and as a mother. Here, Anna shares her personal journey that led to Rahua’s creation and the company’s inspiring work with the indigenous women in the rainforest.

Tell me about your background and how it has created the lifestyle you have today.

I grew up in a small country town in Georgia but always dreamed about living in the big city. A fan of fashion, beauty, and design I finished college at Savannah College of Art and Design and promptly moved to New York to pursue a career in fashion design. I worked for a few years in fashion and trend-forecasting and then met my future husband, Fabian, when I went to have my hair done at his hair salon in New York City. Fabian and I both shared creative energy and a love of nature and art. Together, we traveled to South America where he took me to the Amazon rainforest — I was touched and inspired by life there: by the untouched forest, the abundance, and the beauty. After living in the City I felt the need to be closer to nature and to find ways to protect it and preserve the important cultures and traditions of the people that live there. Fabian and I created the nonprofit organization, Ecoagents to help create awareness for the protection of the Amazon rainforest.

How were you introduced to the oil, Rahua, which became the namesake of your brand?

Fabian had been introduced to it a few years prior while doing environmental work. After learning that Rahua (Ra-wa) oil was made through a highly sustainable and regenerative process using ancient wisdom, we decided to create hair and beauty products to honor this ritual. We combined our love and passions to create product experiences that reconnect our customers to nature. Mother Nature, daily, provides therapy and peace that I am so grateful for.

What is it like to travel to the Amazon to source ingredients and work with the tribal women in a business capacity? 

Traveling to the Amazon is life-changing and inspirational each time, serving as a reset for me and bringing me closer to nature. Seeing life in the pristine forest, meeting the people, and witnessing their way of life gives me new perspective and a deeper respect every time I have the opportunity to travel there. I am honored to work with the women of the Quechua and Achuar nations where Rahua oil is produced. These women take great pride in their traditional, ceremonial processes that yield its potent and restorative ingredients. It is truly inspiring to see the women balance their big, happy families, take care of their communities, and protect their land and forest for future generations.

How has your philanthropic work benefited the indigenous communities?

Our standards go steps beyond the typical fair trade practices as we pay the women directly for their ingredients that are made by hand. Due to the quality and process of obtaining these ingredients, we needed to create a new category that transcends fair trade, which we call “symbiotic.” This means ingredients are grown wild (not farmed) in the virgin rainforest, are processed by hand through ancestral knowledge, and their makers are paid an above fair trade price to build economies and strengthen the position of the indigenous people. By doing this, we have helped them create an economy, and they now have more interest to continue living in the rainforest utilizing their traditions, while acting as the protectors and guardians of the land.

What are your health and wellness rituals?

My number one tip is sleep. Sleep is everything to keep me balanced. Drinking lots of water and staying hydrated is also super important, and I keep a big bottle of water at my desk all day. Daily stretching, breathing exercises, and yoga are all great tools for me to stay focused and balanced. When I want to detox I choose to eat fruits and raw veggies. After our visits to the rainforest, I have an even deeper respect for nature, and that translates to NYC living through purchasing local vegetables and cooking only what will be eaten.

What is it that helps you keep balance in your life?

My family. I have amazing support from my husband and we thrive on the creative process for our business. My greatest joy is our daughter. My favorite part of the day is coming home to big hugs from her and sharing time and laughs together. We like to be outside, in the park, walking barefoot on the grass while reconnecting with nature. Another important way for me to stay balanced is to stay minimalistic, streamlining life of material items. For me, less stuff equals more peace. I enjoy clearing out the clutter in life, which eliminates stress. I shop for clothes much less than I did years ago, looking only for quality items and classic styles that I can wear for years, no matter the season. 

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