Nicola Connolly from Nunaïa

What I’ve Learned: Nicola Connolly of Nunaïa

Nicola Connolly is brand founder of Nunaïa, a beauty brand committed to helping us all find more balance, connection and joy in our lives. We chat to Nicola about what she’s learned along the way

Several years ago, like so many other women today, Nicola Connolly was feeling that the sense of balance, the simple connection to nature and the joy in her life were giving way to the increasing pressures and demands of a busy world. Believing that there had to be a way to bring greater meaning and balance to her life, she gave up the familiar and set out on a journey of exploration to find guidance and insight.

Over the course of the next decade, she found herself living and working with local communities on the Galapagos islands, the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Andes Mountains of Peru, helping them to develop sustainable models for their unique heritage. These business models enabled them to protect their incredible natural resources and culture, as well as experience a better standard of living. These experiences led to the crafting of a range of raw, living, superfood skincare rituals with a ‘Soil to Skin’ ethos and eventually to the creation of Nunaïa, pronounced [noo-nigh-yah].

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned since launching your own business?

That it would push me to grow so much on a personal level and force me to face fears I didn’t even know I had!

If you could go back and do something differently would you?

Nunaïa is a culmination of all my passions for sustainability, wellness, herbalism and skincare over a decade of study and research. We’ve really stuck with our vision and integrity and are very happy with how it’s all turned out. But if there was one thing I would probably do differently it would be to move faster on particular decisions that seemed really important at the time but looking back actually weren’t. I guess that that’s the benefit of hindsight!

What was the biggest thing to surprise you while setting up a business?

The incredible support of family, friends and our Nunaïa Tribe around the world. The kind words, generous gestures and willingness to help out has been completely unexpected and so gratefully received.

Did you learn anything about yourself?

I’m a perfectionist and sometimes in order to get the job done I have to let that go…

How do you manage to maintain any level of work life balance? Is it hard to switch off?

This is something I work at every day – with more success some days than others! Balance is a key part of why I created Nunaïa and is what I spent over a decade studying in South America. So, I make sure I try to bring balance by stopping to rest and re-connect throughout the day and spending some time every day in nature – it calms me.

What was the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

One of my teachers told me very early on ‘Stick to your vision and remind yourself each day why you’re doing this.’ Good advice in a world full of distraction and confusion.

What piece of advice would you pass on now to something else who’s noticed a gap in the market?

It’s harder than it looks and how committed are you, as it will inevitably take longer than you plan.

Have you always believed in Nunaïa or did you have moments of thinking you were completely wrong?

I’ve always believed in my vision of wanting to do and create something in this world that brings more connection and value into people’s lives. That has never wavered, but I have definitely had moments of doubt around the path forward and if I had what it takes to make my vision a reality.

What’s next?

Creating more magical moments of connection…

Where would you like to be in five years?

Creating those magical moments of connection for the Nunaïa Tribe around the world and continuing to help people find more balance, connection and joy in their own lives while also living my own life full of meaning and contentedness.

What do you think made people look at skincare differently?

We’re so aware of what we put on our skin and into our bodies these days

I think it’s a natural progression. When we start to look at our own health and wellness, we start to question how we’re looking after ourselves in terms of exercise, diet, stress levels etc. I think that naturally leads us to question not only what we’re putting into our bodies but also what we’re putting on them like our skincare products and the impact that can have on our overall health over time.

Where did the idea for Nunaïa come from?

I spent over a decade researching and working with traditional communities on the Galapagos islands, the Ecuadorian Amazon and the Andes Mountains of Peru, helping them to develop sustainable models for their unique heritage and studying their ancestral wisdom and plant knowledge.

These communities are a naturally grounded people within their pristine native environments and ultimately taught me a more balanced way to live. At the heart of these insights was their wisdom on the importance of ‘daily rituals,’ or moments of self-care. These experiences inspired the creation of Nunaïa, a range of raw, living, superfood skincare rituals that help us to rest, re-connect and allow us to find little moments of stillness every day.

Shop Nunaïa at Arnotts

Read more: Sarah Kiely from Sadie’s Bone Broth