We met Nyakio Kamoche Grieco a few months ago at a casual member meet up in LA and we were immediately drawn to her. She was everything a heymama embodies; friendly, open, curious and whip smart. We were intrigued by Nyakio’s stories of starting her skincare business using lessons imparted by her Kenyan family and wanted to know more. We love this mamas outlook on life and balance and being mindful in how you treat others and one self. Read on for some of Nyakio Greico’s secrets to staying centered amidst her busy life in LA.
Nyakio, you are the founder of your own skincare line. Tell us more about that.
I created the nyakio brand based on family beauty secrets I learned from my grandmother, who was a coffee farmer and grandfather who was a medicine man. As a first generation of Kenyan descent, I wanted to share this beauty wisdom. The nyakio line celebrates traditional clean and green ingredients from around the globe to help women achieve ageless beauty.
Were you always interested in skincare?
When I started my journey after college, I worked in the entertainment industry, but found very quickly I was more interested in the fashion and beauty aspect. I felt many cultures were under-represented in the world of prestige beauty, so I set out on a path to share beauty secrets with all.
You’ve mentioned that your grandmother played an integral role in your life. What lessons did she impart on you?
As an eight year old visiting my grandmother in Kenya, she taught me my first beauty secret, which was to use Kenyan coffee and sugar to exfoliate skin. It left my skin soft, smooth and glowing. This stuck with me and at this moment, my beauty journey began.
You are a big believer in mentorships. Did you have a mentor in starting this endeavor?
Yes, I’ve had many mentors in my life, starting with my parents who were educators and lovers of research within the beauty industry. Ron Robinson of Ron Robinson Inc. and Fred Segal gave me my first “yes” as a retailer in the industry celebrating my first beauty secret. As I’ve grown in the industry, Sharon Collier of cover FX, and Richelieu Dennis, CEO of my brand’s home, Sundial Brands, continue to mentor and inspire me daily.
Currently, we are partnered with Girls Inc. and work as mentors in their Operation SMART initiative to inspire young girls’ love of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This is an integral and fulfilling part on my life.
You are a first-generation American of Kenyan descent. You were born in Buffalo, grew up in Oklahoma and now live in Los Angeles. What was it like for you growing up in communities so different from where your family had come from?
I had an amazing childhood growing up in Oklahoma. My family made every effort to share their experiences of growing up in Kenya with us. Because my father was an African studies professor, the connection to Kenya in our home was always a part of our daily lives. My parents often spoke about the opportunities that we would have growing up in the United States and to never take those opportunities for granted. Now living in and raising our children in Los Angeles, we too get to celebrate and teach them about their heritage, which not only includes Kenya, but Ireland and Italy, as well. Family is everything to me and I feel so fortunate to be a part of such an interesting family.
As a busy wife, mother and entrepreneur, it’s so important to me to stay centered.
We love the advice you were once given, “Falling down is not failure. Failure is the refusal to stand right back up!”. Have you encountered times like this? How did you start again?
It is true that the word “failure” is a trigger for me. In my life, I have had a lot of stops and starts. I look at those times as teaching moments and have found that redirection, whether it be in relationships or career, often lead us to an even better opportunity.
Your involvement in Girls, Inc., an organization that inspires young women to be strong, smart and bold is fantastic. Tell us more about your involvement and how it inspires you.
I love Girls Inc. and am truly inspired by the partnership. As a young girl, I felt I wasn’t great at math and science. After attending college and earning a business degree, I learned that the opposite was true. While mentoring in the Girls Inc. Operation SMART programming, my hope is to inspire these young girls to explore future careers within STEM. Girls are great at math and science, and jobs in the sciences can be a lot of fun. Having that knowledge from an early age can be so empowering.
We know that having a strong mama tribe around you is important to you. What does it mean to you and do you have any tips for nurturing those relationships?
I always say that my girlfriends are my family. And although it may sound cliché, it truly does take a village. My best tip for nurturing these relationships is to show up for one another, not only in celebration but also in hard times, I’ve learned that having my girlfriends has truly made me a better friend. I believe that we should always surround ourselves with people who not only inspire, but also challenge you. I am so grateful to have these relationships in my life.
What are your non-negotiables when it comes to family time?
My non-negotiables when it comes to family times includes no phones at the dinner table, being active listeners with one another and always lead with love. One of the greatest gifts that I have learned as a wife and a mother is that creating the uninterrupted space for your family to share of themselves is not only necessary, but the greatest way to be honest with one another.
If you only have 5 minutes to get your skin prepped, what are your go-to products?
My 5-minute skin prep routine includes hydrating while I cleanse with nyakio Sweet Almond Cleansing Balm. Next, I always follow up with a face oil. Currently in these winter months, I am reaching for the nyakio Maracuja & Yangu Soothing Oil, which not only helps to soothe and moisturize my skin, but because the oil is green, it helps to color correct any redness that I might have. I also apply the nyakio Quinoa Depuffing & Firming Eye Cream to wake up my tired eyes. I finish up with Coola SPF 30 sunscreen, a little bit of Charlotte Tilbury blush, Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara, nyakio Baobab Lip Balm and Smith & Cult The Queen is Dead Lip Lacer.
Do you have a daily mantra or practice such as meditation or a fitness routine that you stick to?
I try to practice meditation 20 minutes a day and believe that moving your body for at least 30 minutes per day is crucial. Currently, I am really into classes at LEKfit, a dance inspired workout where I get to bounce on a trampoline like an 8-year-old. I’m also a big believer in a 20-minute power nap. I have no judgements around a quick midday nap – it’s great for your mind, your body and your skin.
As a busy wife, mother and entrepreneur, it’s so important to me to stay centered. I work to achieve that balance by remembering to make time for myself.
What are your thoughts on aging and the growing trend of intervention to slow the process?
There are so many advances in medical intervention to slow the signs of aging. My personal choice is to use efficacious, clean and green, natural skincare to achieve ageless beauty. These powerful ingredients have been used by women around the globe for thousands of years. Hydration is the KEY to younger looking skin. Within my brand, we ethically and sustainably source these good-for-you ingredients and marry them with a modern formulation that helps to achieve these results.
When we met you a few months ago we couldn’t help notice your calming energy. Is this something you were born with or do you work on it?
Thank you so much for that! As a busy wife, mother and entrepreneur, it’s so important to me to stay centered. I work to achieve that balance by remembering to make time for myself. One way I work on balancing my energy is by setting intentions, making wishes, manifesting and practicing gratitude, as well as being present with anyone I am fortunate enough to spend time with.
Do you set any New Year’s resolutions? Want to share?
I’ve never been a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions. What I do love is to look at a new year as a reset and time of reflection. I look back at all my learnings from the previous year and bounce into the new year with excitement, new goals, experiences and hopes.
Always be kind and compassionate.
Believe in yourself.
Be thankful for your gifts and life lessons.