Susanne Norwitz, founder of Maya Chia, shares her favorite natural beauty products and skincare routine plus what she’s loving lately.
I’m so excited to bring you our very first edition of Girl Talk! This is a series where we will get intimate and up close with some of the biggest names in clean beauty from founders to formulators to founder/formulators, influencers, change makers and more. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while so I’m really excited to post this first interview with Susanne Norwitz the founder/formulator of Maya Chia.
I met Susanne for the first time online in 2017. I was reviewing a Beauty Heroes discovery featuring Maya Chia and I was peppering Susanne with questions like mad trying to understand her formulas, sourcing, ingredient choices and more. So much so that by the end of the month it felt like we were good friends.
Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of meeting up with Susanne for lunches, dinners, events in Atlanta and Charleston, South Carolina (home to the Maya Chia studio where all the Maya Chia magic happens). This pic is from last summer when Beauty Heroes invited me to the Maya Chia studio where we got to witness Susanne formulating The Refresh Mint.
There are several special qualities about Susanne. She is personable, down to earth, generous, relatable, encouraging, invested and focused. And it may come as no surprise that she is a Myers Briggs INFP.
“INFPs are imaginative idealists, guided by their own core values and beliefs. To a Healer, possibilities are paramount; the realism of the moment is only of passing concern. They see potential for a better future, and pursue truth and meaning with their own individual flair.“
Susanne may have a quite-toned voice but her work is loud, defined and brimming with integrity. She will work endlessly on a product, iterating it hundreds of times, if need be, to get it right. Last summer, Susanne asked a handful of us to help her refine the scent profile for The Refresh Mint. This was epic. Here’s me literally giving feedback to Maya Chia on what smells good and what doesn’t – LOL.
If you’ve used any of her products, you know her perfectionism is a leading quality from her packaging (like forgoing the manufacturer’s standard misting pump and sourcing one from overseas instead because it delivers the finest mist possible) to a lifetime commitment to finding the most perfectly balanced neroli. Susanne does not stop at great. She aims for the unthinkable – and then makes it happen.
A little bit about Maya Chia…
The entire Maya Chia line is built upon the foundation of chia seed oil. Chia seed oil benefits the skin is so many ways. For example, it’s…
- Clinically proven to increase skin hydration and reduce water loss
- Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- The richest plant known source of omegas, antioxidants and minerals
Susanne uses a patented process to extract the oil called supercritical extraction. This process is gentle, oxygen-free, solvent-free and results in an oil (free of chemicals and impurities) that most resembles its source. It’s hands down the most pure, stable, effective and potent chia oil on the market and get this….Susanne owns the patent for this chia seed oil extraction process so it’s the only place you will find this rich oil state-side.
What inspired Maya Chia…
Susanne has a master’s from Harvard University and was knee-deep in political and corporate agenda as a speechwriter when she decided to give it all up and go all-in with skincare. Maya Chia came about through a cumulation of influences. Her lifelong interest with the Mayans was sparked by her father who traveled to Guatemala to perform cleft lip surgeries on indigenous people in need. And in time, she discovered that chia is a staple in Mayan culture holding “untold skin benefits.” And, in 2014 Maya Chia Beauty came to life.
Maya Chia is named “One of the best indie beauty brands” by Allure magazine and “One of the best skincare innovations of 2019” by Glamour. Now let’s get up close and personal with founder Susanne Norwitz.
Read my full review on Maya Chia’s products and innovation with chia seed oil here.
Up close and personal with Susanne Norwitz…
What’re your first 30 minutes like?
I would love to say I journal or meditate or do something zen and virtuous, but most likely I’m hitting the snooze button like 20 times.
What’s your morning skincare routine?
Cleanser with a nourishing one (I’m partial to our own, The Great Cleanse), Eye Serum (one that works well under concealer like The Eye Achiever), face oil mixed with SPF. I love the Super Couple as the Astaxanthin (one of nature’s strongest antioxidants) acts as an SPF booster.
What’s your #1 go-to makeup product?
Mascara. I love Lily LoLo‘s mascara – they’ve got two formulas – one for fluffier lashes and a more natural one. I like them both depending on the effect you’re trying to achieve.
What’s your typical breakfast?
I’m really into the two-ingredient banana pancakes lately. Have you heard of this? It is just two eggs mixed with a mashed banana. Oh, add a lil baking powder to make it more fluffy. I also add in honey instead of syrup and a bit of powdered sugar. It is so good – and good for you too.
Are you a coffee or tea drinker?
Coffee!! But I love a good chai latte as well. To me, having a hot liquid in hand is such a soothing thing – it is the adult equivalent of a blankie.
What’s your exercise routine?
Rowing machine. I love how it exercises the whole body at once efficiently, and kind of stretches you out at the same time. Breathing is so important. I cannot underscore enough how important breathing is to your overall health.
Can you share your playlist?
You know I don’t really have one. I just have a tone of music in my library – from Edith Piaff to Elvis Costello to Ben Folds Five to Green Day to Johnny Cash. Very eclectic and spans the gamut.
Conan O’Brien, but I may be biased as my cousin works on the show. But I don’t think so. Conan is so smart, funny and endearing.
What’s a book that’s rocked your world?
Favorite or go-to healthy dinner recipe?
Soup. I love Soup. All kinds of soup. I think I was heavily influenced by the designer Emily Henderson. She is the soup queen, and I use a lot of her recipes—even though she is a designer.
One product that everyone needs to try?
Are we talking about skincare? If yes, a great cleanser is a must. Of course, I’m partial to our cleanser, The Great Cleanse. It effortlessly removes dirt and makeup while actually nourishing the skin. I love our gentle retinol, too, The Straight A gentle retinol treatment.
What’s your evening skincare routine?
I take off the day with our cleanse, The Great Cleanse. It leaves the skin so moisturizing and soft and clean and it smells like you stepped into a spa.
I then mist with The Optimist hydrating brightening essence, which is a really vital step although you could be deceived because it feels so light on the skin.
Next is The Eye Achiever, which is highly concentrated and works to brighten firm and depuff like a charm and finally I am completely in love with our latest launch, The Straight A Retinol with The Super Couple on top. It is so gentle but it is a powerhouse.
I have super sensitive skin and could never use retinol prior so I really wanted the retinol we put our name on to be a gentle-acting powerhouse.
What’s on your nightstand?
A mug, earrings, a book, skincare. There is this contraption that keeps your hot liquids at a steady temperature called an Ember. It is one of my favorite gifts I’ve received in recent years.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Bad, un-redeeming TV. Swedish fish (the kind you get in a real candy store). Basically; pure sugar.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten or given?
“Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Oh and “Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good”… is also a very good one.
How are you surviving quarantine?
Some days are better than others. I’m a person who thrives when I’m working creatively on projects. I’ve been keeping busy thinking of new formulations, etc.
I heard someone describe this quarantine like a prison. And as they say in prison, “You can do the time or let the time do you.” Meaning you can leave prison with a face tattoo or you can opt to get a law degree. I think it is a great time for recalibration and a chance to re-prioritize—and not get a face tattoo.
Rita MApril 22, 2020
I recently started carrying Maya Chia products at my studio, and am super impressed with the quality, the attention to detail when it comes to sourcing ingredients, and the results! Love The Straight A and so do my clients! This was a fun read. 😉
LisaApril 23, 2020
What a treat for your clients! The Straight A is incredible. xo
Sheila HansenMay 11, 2020
As a professional makeup artist who reinvented herself 10 years ago as a green/clean makeup artist, I love reading about women with second careers in the healthy beauty field. Thanks for an interesting interview. I can’t wait to try Maya Chia products.
LisaMay 14, 2020
Maya Chia is such a treat! Be sure to let me know what you think when you try! xo, Lisa