A complete list of my favorite sustainable brands, businesses and people!
" Last week on 'Design Spotlight', I gabbed about a woman who turns recycled fabrics into decorative plant vessels. Continuing the theme of being environmentally conscientious, I've had the pleasure of befriending another beautiful soul who is all about rain forest conservation through the art of herbal body care.
This gorgeous babe above is Dana Cutolo and she is a master of alchemy - literally! She graduated from the Arbor Vitae School of Traditional Medicine in NYC with a passion for medicinal herbs and a knack for applying the properties into skin care and beauty treatments. Her interest in ethnobotany flourished during her study abroad through a different college she attended, Stony Brook University. She was sent to Madagascar and stayed at the research and conservation center, Centre ValBio.
Dana's knowledge on medical plants expanded after graduating from Arbor Vitae when she returned to Kianjavato, Madagascar to take on a reforesting project, working with the local Ombiasa. Among the tribe is a Malagasay shaman (natural doctor) who Dana worked closely with in documenting the medical plants while further understanding the importance of rain forest conservation and it’s root causes, especially in impoverished regions.
A year after she left Kianjavato Dana went to a town called Ranomafana and a couple of her friends and community members were inspired to resurrect their family business of making essential oils. With a business concept like this, one can employ many community members and make a sizeable impact on rain forest protection! Along with her professor, they came up with the funds for an essential oil machine and that's when Dana whipped up her first set of body care products, using original essential oils from the region; Geranium, Calendula Body Oil, Ravintsara, and Lemon Body Oil.
Since then for almost two years, Dana has built her brand Ny’Ala from trying out recipes, developing her labels and website, branding and getting out into the community; all the while supporting the local farmers/developers in Ranomafana.
Dana started Ny'Ala with one main goal; to continue utilizing sustainable locally made ingredients for effective skin + beauty treatments, while promoting sustainability. Even her glass bottles are reusable as you can easily remove the sticker once you've finished the product.
“Ny’Ala means “from the rainforest” in Malagasy (language of Madagascar) and for me it embodies the mission – to bring more awareness and understanding of plants power and importance, every ingredient utilizes a plants magic and also donates to helping reforestation projects. To me, Ny’Ala means respecting mother nature, using her power in a sustainable matter and giving back when you take – it means balance. The beauty and wellness industry is consumed with unsustainable ingredients that have a bigger impact than we realize, so being aware of that and just making a better choice, or thinking holistically about your products makes a big difference. ”
— DANA CUTOLO
Prior to her studies at Arbor Vitae, Dana's initial interested in medicinal herbs sprouted in high school while working at a local health food store – seeing at all the tinctures, essences, herbs and plant remedies piqued her creativity. At that time, Dana was dealing with personal cosmetic and product allergies and figured that she might as well take products from the shop she worked at to create her own remedies.
Being a wiz with medicinal herbs, Dana understands the properties of different substances and can therefore apply them to address different skin treatments:
- Cannabis Serum to moisturize, cleanse and heal the inflammation of sensitive skin caused by crazy dry flakey breakouts of dermatitis. This was perfect for when my nose dried out from a terrible sinus infection; the eucalyptus she added in helped relieve the pressure in my sinuses.
-Coconut Face Mask for moisturizing and exfoliating mask in the summer. All you need is a bit of water to create e thickness t your liking, and then apply with a make up brush!
-Turmeric Balm was created for stubborn swollen pimples and painful wrists; the yellow from the turmeric is stunningly vibrant.
-Shimmering Bronzer Oil as an alternative to other tanning oils that would end up making skin feel greasy or break out! I wore this during a photoshoot at the Laylow Waikiki, which is perfect as I haven't tanned in a while. Even my booty was nice and bronzy!
There are always benefits from using high quality natural ingredient based products, therefore anyone and everyone can use Ny'Ala! Dana is a true believer in that everyone should understand the connection between the products and plants we use, and our environment.
“Ny’Ala is for everyone, especially those who value companies with a mission – so if you want to make great choice for your body and environment Ny’Ala is a great company to choose!”
— DANA CUTOLO
If you're ever interested in learning more about the uses of medicinal plants and how they're beneficial, check out Dana on Instagram as she posts updates for when she does her monthly workshops at Down to Earth. Sometimes you can find her at pop up events like Art + Flea, which she will be attending this August. I actually met Dana at local vendor event in Waikiki and was instantly drawn to her bottles (you know, just me being all about aesthetics). And when I quickly learned her mission and products, I was stoked to write about Dana and spread the word!
If you ever want a treatment like the Cannabis Serum or the Coconut Face Mask, you can shop Ny'Ala at:
- Down to Earth on S. King
- Mori in South Shore Market
- Waiahole Nursery and Garden Center
- Global Village Kailua
Also thank you to Landen for accompanying me to this meeting. He was actually getting over a bad cold and felt relief after taking a whiff of one of the Ny'Ala products! Check him out on Instagram as @genkiphotos for awesome portraits and his other creative content.
I hope that with this story it'll help spread positive influence to viewers to think more about the products we use today from drug stores and high end brands. I've certainly strayed away from using a lot of well-known brand items, being suspicious about their practices especially. Seeing Dana in her workshop studio sets my mind at ease knowing that she creates her products by hand in an controlled environment.
Dana is actually in the works of earning her Esthetician License - so looking forward, you can expect her to include holistic herbal services like facials, lashes and more!
"I am so excited to be able to work directly with people on their skin and beauty routines – that’s truly where my happy place is!"
Keep up the hustle Dana - you're doing amazing! "
June 6 1949 - my fathers birthday and May 26 1999 - the day my father disappeared and October 2008, the day we sort of found out what happened to him.
An almost 20 year battle with emotional trauma and the death of my father left me broken and grieving for most of my life... until this year. At 28 years old I have finally learned that closure is the cure to grief, for me at least. Throughout my life I have been embarrassed to tell this story - and now, I am not. My father, William Cutolo, was an amazing man - and I finally am able to honor him.
Emotional pain can cause many health conditions - it's overall devastating for the body. We are essentially in a 'fight or flight' mode, and as a result our body cannot heal itself, absorb nutrients, allow for proper rest or balance your hormones correctly. Adrenal fatigue is a real thing - and before we change our diet and introduce herbs or medication, we must confront the root of the problem because it will continue to show up in every area of your life.
So - in essence, to mitigate stress, declining health or to clear your energy you MUST start with confronting the root. This doesn't have to be a long or difficult process, but here's what I did.
Last year, May 2017, I decided that I needed to change my life, and I moved to Hawai'i with the most amazing, caring, loving man I've ever met. This was a leap of faith, but I knew that if I didn't trust him, and myself and just take the plunge - I would forever regret it. Along the journey from New York to Hawai'i, I made another damn bold move - I contacted my brother, who, up until a couple of months prior, I haven't seen or spoken to since I was nine years old.
That was an incredible experience. Having my whole world implode at nine wasn't easy - but hiding this pain was worse. Reaching out to him may have been difficult, but it was the best way to confront my past and enjoy the great parts - like how damn similar we look, and act, and think - who knew family had such similarities - joking!
Fast forward a year - May 26 2018, my good friend made a simple comment to me "we should get Italian food and celebrate him" … WELL DUH. Why is it that we assume things have to be a dramatic thing? A simple celebration in a beautiful place - why haven't I thought of that?
… so my amazing fiancee' bought my father a royal lei - and we went off to China Walls to toss it into the madly waving pacific ocean at sunset. So freeing. The water went from calm to violently bursting crashing waves when I threw the lei in, that was my father, I know it.
…. I feel so free, so calm, so connected to his spirit - and finally, I can start to heal in an effective way.
So lately I’ve been having the strangest problem finding good deodorant- and so many of my friends are having the same issue, so thankully I’m not alone. I went to Down to Earth (www.downtoearthhi.com) and scrambled through their natural deodorant section only to find a gem (thank you DTE!!!!). The Patchouli + Buriti rose hip deodorant by Nubian Heritage. It’s the perfect amount of Patchouli and it isn’t overwhelming- I wish they made a perfume of this, I would bathe in it 😍
The weather has been so strange in Honolulu, rainy and slightly chilly but still humid- so my struggle is having the energy to get up and look alive. I’ve been obsessed with this locally made body powder by Mamalani (https://www.mamalani.com/) and I’m using for my hair as a quick dry shampoo to freshen up (especially when I’m in a rush). It’s locally made in Hawai’i, by Hawaiians and it smells like heaven!
I’ve also been using my Coffee Under Eye serum roller to de-puff my eyes in the morning and our Shimmering Bronzer Stick to get a moisturized bronze look since I haven’t gotten sun in over a week!
What’s been on your radar, which products are you currently using and love?
What a year it has been... I don't exactly know where to start. A quote from Yoga Girl can accurately sum it up:
"Every time I thought I was being rejected, I was actually being redirected towards something better."
2017 was a crazy year... and it all started around December of 2016. I was in a dark, bad place in my life. I had just gotten out of an unhealthy relationship and I had really started to see my own flaws clearly. 2016 had gotten the best of me, I was not confident, chronically exhausted, physically unhealthy - I was ignoring myself in an effort to please others, and that only leads you to a breakdown. Because I was in a completely devastating depression it was easy to put every goal I had on the back burner. I told myself, one day I'll get to that, soon I'll have time for this - there is never going to be a better time to put yourself first.
Thankfully, there are some pretty amazing and inspiring people in my life that were able to motivate my to change my situation. Every thing in your life, to an extent, is within your control. If you aren't happy it's up to you to change it... So that's what I did - I booked a flight to Oahu, Hawai'i for 2 weeks to get my head straight for the new year. When I returned I felt brand new, on a life high (or on a hi-life ;) ). I had reconnected with my now fiance', the love of my life - the one person that builds me up every single day and sees me for who i really am... When you feel that revitalizing life force, you need to chase it, however crazy it seems because you owe that to yourself.
That was in January 2017 - after a long cross-country trip from New York to California, living on a boat for months and becoming a mom to the most perfect angel dog in this world - now, in December, I call Oahu home. I can honestly say I am dedicated to changing what isn't right in my life, instead of dwelling on it. Find solutions instead of just seeing dead ends... and don't let anyone put out your fire for life.
I'm realizing this is a vast over-simplification of everything that led up to me moving here - but maybe I'll save the rest for another day.
What's Next in 2018?
My top new years resolutions are:
Exploring the rainforests, taking in the beauty of this world and learning to give myself time to enjoy nature...
Planting more trees!
Become more minimalist and creating less trash waste.
Spread the message of Ny'Ala and donate more to reforestation!
I have partnered with an amazing organization called "Reforest Hawai'i" and I will be launching new products that will donate directly to planting Koa trees on the Big Island of Hawai'i.
These products include a Tropical Body Serum packed with Hawaiian plant oils, a Tropical moisturizing hair perfume and plant cosmetics :) If you're interested in donating to them now, all of our new apparel donates $5 per item!
I am so excited for the new year and all it has in store for us! If you're interested in writing for Ny'Ala, or being a Brand Ambassador - email me at DanaCutolo@Ny-Ala.com !
Happy New Year!
Tangles vines, enormous palms, colorful Heliconia flowers, big baskets of bird nest ferns and cycads, and bamboo thickets... the rainforest is a wonderland all in itself.
These days we've been seeing tropical plants and ecology as a main feature in design, of homes, clothes and atmosphere. I have to say: we're digging it.
Bringing nature into your personal surroundings is a sort of meditation, a way to relax our minds through nature.
I love design and I am head over heels in love with fusing nature into minimalism...