ST. LUCIA’S MYSTERIOUS PEARL OF BEAUTY IS
Mysterious stories from how the witch doctor cured someone from repetitive voodoo nightmares, to how the modern day medicine man fell in love with an exotic island native, have spilled from people’s mouths throughout the ages about the Caribbean. But one thing that is refreshingly new, is the body skincare brand, CHOISELLE, created by – yes – another exotic island native named Nydia Norville, who created this line due to her earlier childhood years spent with her grandmother as she picked from the plants, trees and herbs growing around them.
It’s no secret that one of the best beauty remedies is to take a dip and swim inside of a tropical based ocean where the salt water detoxifies your skin in conjunction with the sun that recharges cell rejuvenation. But the truth of the matter is that most of us live in urban cities where we work hard, juggle full time careers, and are exposed to way too much pollution and toxic chemicals on a daily basis. In short, we have to invest in the maintenance of our beauty to keep ourselves looking healthy and radiant before our environment ages us quicker. Norville knows this all too well as she started her career as a print model before creating her luxurious skincare products. Below is a Q&A with the fabulous Beauty Expert, revealing why her products are a must-have for every woman’s regimen.
The inspiration behind my line came from my early childhood spent on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. I drew from my experience watching my grandmother and other women around me prepare medicinal and skincare remedies using ingredients from plants, trees and herbs growing around them. Choiselle (pronounced SHWA-ZELLE) is loosely named after the town in St. Lucia called Choiseul (pronounced SHOW-ZELLE). I changed the pronunciation and spelling just a bit. It was my way of paying tribute to the place that inspired me.
2) WHERE ARE THE INGREDIENTS INSPIRED OR DERIVED FROM?
I wanted to use ingredients from nature in their purest form as possible. I first started looking at ingredients native to the Caribbean and from there branched out into different regions. The initial inspiration comes from the Caribbean. We have mango butter and lemongrass. Citronella which is lemongrass’s “cousin” is what I remember seeing being used to make tea. They smell very similar and even look almost the same. We also incorporated ingredients from other regions such as lavender from France and ylang ylang which is native to Southeast Asia.
Our products are currently being sold on our online store and we have selected products at Aetheria Relaxation Spa in New Canaan, CT. We will be announcing very soon that our products will be available in the spa of a luxury hotel in the Caribbean but we can’t mention the name yet. Stay tuned.
4) WHICH ARE YOUR BEST SELLING PRODUCTS OR MOST POPULAR ONES?
Our best selling scent is lemongrass. It has an uplifting scent that appeals to both men & woman. Our best selling product which happens to be the very first product I’ve ever create which is our body butter.
I starting creating products for the skin when I couldn’t really find anything to soothe my own dry skin. The products that were recommended either didn’t work or I had to combine it with thicker, aesthetically unpleasing products that worked but left my skin feeling like an oil slick. On a whim, remembering how things were done in St. Lucia, I decided to try to make my own products. As a reference, I flipped over a regular bottle of moisturizer to see what they were using. I was shocked at the fact that a large portion of their ingredient list was made up of mainly chemicals that were not beneficial to the skin. In fact, some of those ingredients were harmful. They were either fillers, or ingredients to make the products aesthetically pleasing. When I tried to look up brands that were known to be “natural,” again I was shocked that even those didn’t really meet up to their claims either. After lots of research and a small purchase of ingredients, I created my first body butter, and it worked great! I started packaging it in these cute tins and placed a label on them to give to friends and they loved it. Armed with their enthusiasm for the product, I started experimenting with creating other products and eventually I sent the body butter to a chemist that I met – by chance – for evaluation. His response after looking & testing the formula was that “considering you’ve never done this before, this formula looks great.” “Great job!” At the time (circa 2003,) there weren’t too many natural brands on the market, and the few that were available weren’t always visually or physically appealing. They were either brown or green or looked really homemade. I realized that there’s a demand here in the industry that isn’t being met, and that’s when I decided that maybe this could turn into a business. That realization and the praises from the chemist & friends is what encouraged me to give birth to this company. My gamble paid off because the natural/organic personal care segment is the fasting growing group in personal care.
As an entrepreneur you experience challenges everyday. I think the main challenge is time. You wear so many hats, especially during the start-up phase that you find that you spread yourself thin and you have to force yourself to find balance. You are so passionate about what you do that you want to work on it 24/7, and sometimes you have to force yourself to stop and take a timeout and go have fun, and experience life outside of your business. I also think being a female entrepreneur is a plus and not a downfall. I think people are even more impressed by what you do because if I was a man, it’s almost like that’s expected.
7) WHAT ARE THE MAIN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE BODY BUTTERS AND THE BODY OILS?
Our line consists of moisturizers for the skin based on your skin types and climate. The main difference between the body butter and body oil is their consistency. The body butter is a very nutrient rich product which is great for customers with really dry skin, or can be used on very dry regions of the skin such as the elbows, back of the heels and knees. We also highly recommend using it during the winter season when our skin tends to be the driest. The bath and body oil is our lightest moisturizer. It works great for individuals whose skin isn’t too dry but still needs a bit of hydration. It’s also great in the summer when your skin isn’t too dry, and works great as a bath oil, oil perfume and I even have some customers who like to use it in their hair. The lemongrass oil is particularly special as lemongrass is a natural insect repellent. It’s great for those who like to be outdoors or who live in warmer climates. What I love about the our oils is that it has such multiple uses. You can make it your own.
8) DO YOU DO HOLIDAY GIFT WRAPS? AND WILL THERE BE ANY HOLIDAY PROMOTIONS?
I highly recommend following us on social media to keep abreast of any holiday promotions that we may have coming up. There are a few holiday events that we have in the works that we will be announcing soon on there.
9) HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU FIRST CREATED THE LINE? AND HOW LONG HAS IT TAKEN TO EVOLVE?
I started my first line in 2005 at the age of 25. I introduced 3 types of products almost similar to what we have now. After three years in operation, I decided to rebrand the company, and we came up with a new name, new packaging and improved formulations, giving birth to what you see today.
10) WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO USE “LAVENDER”, “LEMON GRASS”, AND “YLANG YLANG”?
I started with lavender because it was such a universal scent; everyone knows it. There are true hardcore lavender lovers who have been using it for years. Lemongrass was such an uplifting scent that I thought would appeal to both men and women, and it turns out it did. Ylang Ylang is not well known in this part of the world but I plan to change that. I fell in love with it because it seemed like “natures perfume.” It’s one of the ingredients in the very popular Chanel No 5 and in my research, I found out that it’s used locally (southeast Asia) as an aphrodisiac which I though was quiet intriguing. It has a strong perfume-like aroma which I was able to pair with other essential oils to tone down and add subtle citrus & spicy notes to it.
11) YOU MENTIONED THAT YOUR GRANDMOTHER USED REMEDIES TO SOOTHE YOUR SKIN. DESCRIBE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HER, AND HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THE WAY SHE INSPIRED YOUR COMPANY.
My grandmother was a remarkable woman in my eyes as I saw how well she took care of me and everyone else, even those who were not her family by blood. She got along with everyone and had a lot of friends. She was easily likeable by anyone, regardless of who they were and where they came from. She used to sell some of the things she created at the local market where all the locals and tourists from the cruise ships would come to shop. She had such a strong impact on the people she met that she would always get the sweetest letters in the mail from customers after they returned back to their respective countries. They were always thanking her for assisting them, and for overall just being a nice person. She would get letters from people from Germany & England and other parts of Europe. I was always amazed at that. The fact that even after their vacation was over, they still took the time to write. I would love to have an impact on people the way she did. She was a seamstress and knew how to use and draw out the properties from plants & herbs that grew locally to prepare food, medicinal remedies and skincare. That way of life is something that I feel has gotten lost among the newer generation. I do believe that nature can provide us with everything that we need and I wanted to create a line that embodied that philosophy. A “back to nature” approach to skincare.
I remember sitting in the kitchen watching my grandmother make coconut oil from scratch. It was a rather labor intensive, rustic process, especially if you’re just using basic equipment from a kitchen, but it worked and the oil it produced, in my opinion, is still way better than any of the organic coconut oils found on the store shelves today. She would usually go through the process in two days. Back then, we used coconut oil for everything, for cooking, for our hair, and for our skin.