10 Questions with Ekaterina Mikhaylova & Anna Tubina, Founders, ZAYA Eco Skincare | See Girl Work

10 Questions with Ekaterina Mikhaylova & Anna Tubina, Founders, ZAYA Eco Skincare

The founders of ZAYA Eco Skincare firmly believe that each woman is an authentic blend of wit, passion, character and elegance that deserves admiration in a unique way.

Ekaterina Mikhaylova and Anna Tubina created a skincare line that combines ancient natural beauty secrets used by Slavic women for centuries with modern “green” skincare science.

Every ZAYA product is a harmony of the finest natural ingredients, sophisticated scents, silky textures and distinct characters.

As a Canadian small business, ZAYA products do not include fillers or toxins. Only a few of nature’s best ingredients working intelligently to enhance our skin.

It was important to both Ekaterina and Anna, that their products effortlessly become your skin’s most trustful companion.

Please enjoy 10 Questions with Ekaterina Mikhaylova and Anna Tubina, the founders of ZAYA Eco Skincare.

skincare products made in canada
1. In the beginning, what motivated you to become an entrepreneur?

Anna: Having to struggle with skin sensitivities and allergies from young age I know what it means to feel uncomfortable in your skin. It does impact the quality of life when your skin is irritated or itchy.

Becoming a founder of natural skincare company meant to me helping other women to regain skin comfort and fulfilling my passion and love for nature.

Ekaterina: The decision to start my own business was driven by an inability to find a local alternative to the natural skin care products that I used in Russia.

I was looking for products that would just feel “right” on my very sensitive skin. But when I started discussing the idea with my friend Anna the conversation developed into something broader.

We found ourselves talking about green living and responsible buying as well. Choices that can help sustain both personal health and a health of the planet.

2. What problem are you solving?

Anna: When we created ZAYA we wanted to bring on the market natural skincare line that offers unprecedented skin comfort. To us it means bridging the gap between two worlds — conventional and natural skincare.

In mass market skincare products, the “right” feeling on the skin is achieved by adding artificial substances that our skin does not really need. In fact, many of them are toxic and irritating for our skin in the long term.

On the other hand, natural skincare artisans are often creating 100% plant-based products that have impressive ingredient lists, but just don’t feel right on the skin — too heavy, too oily, wrong texture, or not effective enough.

ZAYA products are not only100% safe and performing, but also bring the feeling of comfort to the skin, releasing fatigue that it accumulates through the day.

Ekaterina: Urban living with its stress, air pollution, unhealthy food choices and physical inactivity impact the health of one’s skin. To deal with it people buy all kinds of cosmetic products.

They use more products than they actually need for maintaining healthy looking skin. The end result may be clogged pores, congested skin, irritation and breakouts. In addition it has a growing negative impact on the environment.

In ZAYA we believe that less is more when it comes to products and their ingredients.

Our basic line offers unique skincare duos of oil blend and cream for face, eye and hand care.

With only two products you can always customize your skincare routine and find a combination that works for you on any particular day.

No reasons to buy a plethora of products, too many of which end up going used and eventually in a landfill.

3. What’s the biggest thing you struggle with as an entrepreneur?

Anna: Setting the priorities and staying focused on them on any given day. As a small business entrepreneur, I have a lot of things on my plate every day.

When I get dragged by urgent items and last-minute requests, there is a risk to leave no time for strategic activities.

That potentially can slow down the business development. After I realized that I became very watchful of how I spend my business hours, what items get done first.

Ekaterina: I have to manage different business areas at the same time. They range from the manufacturing operations and the supply chain to marketing and customer relations. As a small business you have to wear all these hats yourself.

So the largest challenge for me is to keep everything organized. I need to plan my work ahead of time and stick to this plan.

4. What’s the biggest thing that’s happened in your business so far?

Anna: We are skincare business — our products touch people’s skin. That is a big deal!

When we started getting warm feedback on the shows or online with words like “I finally found the cream that feels comfortable on my skin (aside from being non-toxic ) and “You are my brand — where have you been before?!” or “I never believed that oil-based skincare could work on my acne-prompted skin, but your Face oil did the magic!” or even “You packaging is gorgeous — far from what we used to see in the natural skincare store section…” – that’s when we first wanted to jump to the ceiling, saying, we found our customers, our clientele, people who really appreciate and thankful for what we do”!

Ekaterina: The most exciting part of the business is when I see that all our efforts of promoting healthier green lifestyle through our products, the way we manufacture, or the campaigns we support actually influencing people to make changes to their life.

They start paying more attention to what cosmetics they use, what food they eat, or how over-consumption may impact our natural environment.

Seeing this I feel proud of what we are doing at ZAYA.

5. What is one challenge in your business that you did not anticipate?

Anna: I am not a social media person at all. I get my energy from meeting and connecting to people in real spaces, not virtual.

I was quite puzzled realizing how much your sales can depend on your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter account, if the pictures you are taking on your smart phone are pretty enough or not. This still frustrates me big time.

Luckily, I have my friend and business partner Ekaterina, who effortlessly takes care of that with lots of style and inspiration. Check out @zayaoils on Instagram to appreciate what she does.

Ekaterina: We were excited about the idea of natural skincare, green living and mindful consumption. We were confident that we could communicate our vision and excitement to others.

But people can be reluctant to change their habits and adapt to something new even if it’s an improvement to their life. It’s hard to gain the initial trust in order to get your first loyal customers when it comes to something as personal as skincare.

It took us time to tailor our message to communicate these values and reach out to those ones who now believe that ZAYA is the brand that they have been looking for!

6. What advice would you give to another person wanting to start their own business?

Anna: To me it’s knowing exactly what difference you are going to make with your business.

Will there be people loving what you do and ready to become your loyal counterparts, clients, customers, and even friends? Will you make somebody’s life a bit easier, a bit better, a bit brighter?

Ekaterina: Do what you really love and the rest will follow. Consider your disappointments as lessons and experiences.

7. How does your culture/background influence your work?

Anna: We are coming from a Slavic culture where the knowledge of how to use botanicals and other naturally occurring substances, like clays and muds, in skincare, medicine and for various household needs was always very strong and has not been lost with the development of mass market manufacturing.

Many beauty recipes are carefully kept and passed from one generation to another.

My natural interest to plants and strong belief in their power makes a formulation work almost a sacred moment for me. It’s the time when I believe a true magic happens, and that magic can make the world a little bit better!

Ekaterina: We both grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia the city of palaces, world famous ballet, museums and art galleries, where every second person is an artist.

I spent hours in galleries looking at masterpieces of women’s portraits admiring the diversity of characters, elegance and charm.

Inspired by that, we created our ZAYA Signature oil blends collection to empower women to embrace their unique style and beauty that is always there, despite the age.

8. How do you unwind and relax after a long, busy day?

Anna: Lots of cuddles and kisses with my husband and little ones is what saves even the most tiring day.

If I am all by myself than it would definitely be some nice tunes, improvised dancing or a favorite book by the wood fireplace or a couple of candles burning. Yes, I am a bit old-fashioned and romantic 😊

Ekaterina: I love visual art. When I need a little bit of my personal time to relax and re-energize I go to an art studio to do some paintings or pottery.

I find that any type of creation works for me as a form of meditation. I’m able to completely concentrate on the art project, all the stress of the busy day disappears.

The other is being surrounded with my family and friends — the people I love. Making dinner for them and sitting at the table in the cozy atmosphere with a glass of wine planning new adventures is my perfect end to a busy week.

9. What do you consider to be a life well-lived?

Anna: To live in harmony with yourself, to acknowledge your mistakes and let them help you to grow. Love and be loved. Give more than you take.

Ekaterina: Achieving the balance between personal life and work. To be always present and live every moment in full.

10. How do you want people to remember you?

Anna: That’s a tricky one… I’ve had people in my life who made a great impact on me (aside from my parents and family).

They helped me develop and grow as a person and as a professional. They led by example, their work and actions inspired.

I have very warm and grateful memories of them. If someone will remember me the same way, I think I would be amazing.

Ekaterina: I love people. I love bright colours. I love life. I want to be remembered as a person who brings light to lives around me.


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Alethea Robinson

Founder & Blogger-in-Chief, See Girl Work

Alethea Robinson is a freelance marketing & content writer who provides content strategy, blogging, and writing & editing services for creative agencies and small to medium-sized businesses. In addition to her freelance business, Alethea is also founder and blogger-in-chief at See Girl Work, an online community for creative, entrepreneurial-minded women. Before starting her blog and freelance business, Alethea worked in marketing and communications for over 15 years.


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