SOUTHERN LACED spoke with Yolanda Owens Skincare Chef about iWi fresh Farm-to-Skin Spa in Atlanta, Georgia. As a college student, the Skincare Chef began making chemical-free skincare products for herself and friends with the knowledge she gained from her grandmother, who treated family illnesses with nutrition and self-made herbal remedies.
During an interview with SOUTHERN LACED founder Kelly Stone, Yolanda Owens explained that iWi stands for “It is what it is. Because whatever it is, that’s what it is. It’s fresh and it’s raw.”
She also shared insight on the importance of loving yourself and taking care of your skin.
Q: You have been featured in and on Essence magazine, Southern Living® Magazine, Today Show, Vegetarian Times magazine, Fox 5 Atlanta TV, Atlanta Tribune and Atlanta Daily World.
Give us a little background. Your grandmother was a huge influence on your skin care products. Tell us about how she inspired you.
A: I always say she is the true founder or iWi Fresh. Growing up with my grandmother, she was a true home remedy queen. She never believed in buying anything from the store. She always made every concoction for any type of illness or issues we may have from the kitchen and garden. So she was my true inspiration. Through her, I learned the power of things that come from the earth; the things that are natural and not chemically processed.
Q: You are known as the Skincare Chef. How did you get that name?
A: That name just kind of grew on me because I’m always in the kitchen making skincare recipes.
iWi Fresh is a farm-to-skin spa. We partner with local farms and handpick all of the fruits and vegetables. I bring them back to the spa where I mix them and juice the vegetables to make skincare recipes.
So since I’m always in the kitchen making skincare recipes, I turned into the Skincare Chef.
Q: Your mission is to empower individuals to love themselves more through the care of their skin. As a woman, skin has a lot of bearing on self esteem. That’s a problem that men and women spend lot of money trying “fix” on a daily basis.
What I love about your mission is that you want to empower individuals to love themselves more. Why do you feel that it’s important to recognize self-love rather than focus entirely on skincare products?
A: Beauty is only skin deep. It comes from the inside. You have to love yourself in order to pay attention and be conscious of what you’re putting in and on your skin. It’s all about what you’re eating, what you’re applying and what you’re attracting.
The foods we are eating and the cosmetic industry are full of toxins. From the cleansers to the haircare and to the makeup… it’s toxins, toxins, toxins. And then we are stressed. All of this is all-encompassing of self-care.
My thing is really empowering and educating people on feeding their skin the truth. Skin is the largest organ of the body. It encompasses everything. So self-care is really where it starts. You’ve gotta love yourself.
Q: Without giving us your recipes, what are some of the ingredients you include in your line of skincare products?
A: We work with all of the vegetables. Carrots, squash, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados… We do a lot of seasonal products. So whatever seasonal fruits and vegetables are in season, we use that. I focus on vegetables that are very high in antioxidants because they are good for anti-aging and your skin.
Q: Some of the celebrities that have visited and/or experienced your products include Kelly Rowland, Gabrielle Union, Iyanla Vanzant, Lil Scrappy, Eric Roberson, Rashan Ali, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and 2016 Olympic winner, Kristi Castlin. Other celebrities who have encountered the atmosphere of your spa include the legendary Sheila E., Mathew Knowles, Former Mayor, and Civil Rights activist, Andrew Young, Mario Van Peebles, Lance Gross, Taraji P. Henson, and countless others.
How does it feel to reach celebrity status with your products?
A: It feels really good. I could have easily jumped into the mainstream of putting chemicals and preservatives in my product but I wanted to stay raw. We are considered raw beauty and fresh. So it feels good to know that you have celebrities like Kelly Rowland and Gabrielle Union that are really big and putting raw products on their skin.
Q: There are so many spas to choose from. What makes your spa different from the average spa?
A: I think there are two things. The main thing is that we offer raw products that are farm-to-spa and the spa itself is toxin free.
A lot of people love to come into the spa because it doesn’t smell like chemicals and you don’t see chemicals.
We have a lot of plants. It looks like a garden.
Q: Your clientele is not only for women. You have men that frequent your location on a regular basis.
A: Skin is skin. It’s no gender. It’s no race. It’s no age. It’s skin.
Q: As far as mental health, how important is it for men and women to find ways to de-stress.
A: Destressing is everything. We live in a world of fast-paced moving and anxiety. So when you can go into an environment like iWi Fresh, just by walking through the door, it’s taking you from the hustle and the bustle. So it relaxes your mind and calms your brain. So you’re destressing from the moment you’re walking in.
We have the services like the massage services, reflexology, warm shaves, haircuts, and facials. These are moments where we are pampering and treating you. So you get a chance to relax and destress.
I think that alone is a key component to mental health because we just don’t take the time out to take care ourselves like we should.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: We want to make iWi Fresh an exclusive destination in Atlanta by expanding our facilities and services to create more of a destination feel.
To find out more about iWi fresh Farm-to-Skin Spa, visit their website at https://www.iwifresh.com.