KAPAA — Wilcox Elementary kindergarten teacher Mia Belluche has been on a lifelong mission searching for natural beauty and organic skincare products.
That journey has yielded hours online comparing websites and exhaustive lists of products, creams that weren’t just quite right and an endless parade of plastic, toxins and non-biodegradable packaging.
So, when Belluche finally started finding products that fit her criteria — effective, cruelty-free, toxin free and earth conscious — she decided to make things easier for everyone else and sell natural wellness and beauty products in a brick-and-mortar shop in Kapaa.
“Green beauty is a fairly new concept and I wanted to make it accessible,” Belluche said about a month after opening Lilikoi Luxe, next to the clothing shop Born Hawaii and Coconut Cup Juice Bar.
The clean, light shop is lined with organic, natural beauty and skincare brands like Fat and the Moon, which slings herbal salves and chemical-free beauty products, or the Kauai-based Pohala Hawaiian Fern Medicine made from Hawaii plants.
Glass bottles for water, shampoo and conditioner bars, makeup and nail products and jewelry from Mystic Rose are also in the collection.
It’s all displayed so customers can compare scents and ingredients, try samples and learn what products are best for their skin.
“There are so many options to chose from, it’s hard to compare online and as I’m setting out to find skincare for me, I wanted to shop at a place like this,” Belluche said.
She continued: “Skincare is one of the most toxic industry and a lot of people don’t realize how many toxins are in the products and how much waste it generates. I wanted an alternative and I wanted to be able to see it and feel it when I was finding products.”
And while she’s been researching skincare products, building an inventory, securing a space and winding up all the details to open Lilikoi Luxe, Belluche has also been teaching full time.
An avid surfer, Belluche moved to Kauai two years ago from Oahu when her fiancé was offered a job on-island with the United States Department of Agriculture.
“I found a teaching job and we moved over here,” she said. “But, I grew up coming here, surfing. I’ve always had a special love for this island.”
It’s been a marathon, Belluche admits, getting Lilikoi Luxe off the ground and wrangling kindergartners, but she managed to get it done without taking a day off from her day job.
In fact, she was planning to be on hand at the shop on opening day, but that date was pushed back a few months and landed on Oct. 15 — the first day school was back in session after fall break.
“I’m so lucky that I got two amazing employees before we opened,” she said. “They helped set up and it was like handing my first child off to them. They live and breathe what this store is about, though, so it went great.”
Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.