Our Interview with Athena Hewett, Founder of Monastery Made
Athena Hewett opened a skincare studio in San Francisco in 2011, to treat her patients with different methods of oil cleansing, water free moisturizing and alcohol and salt free skincare.
Alongside her practice, Athena introduced a collection of natural skincare — a blend of the best nature has to offer, with essential oils carefully chosen for their non-irritating properties. Each ingredient is of the purest form and highest quality. A tightly curated product range, made in small batches at Monastery's studio in San Francisco.
Hello dearest Athena. We’d love to know the story and the inspiration behind your brand, Monastery.
How did you choose the name of your holistic range? I’ve been working on my line for many years and it originally had my name but when we decided to introduce it to the entire world I felt shy for it to be continued to be called Athena Ellen, as I’m kind of a private person. I tried to think of a name that meant something to me and brought me back to a favorite memory. When I was a child my mom, my grandma, and I would travel to Monasteries in Greece and I had the fondest memories of this time. Quiet and beautiful old buildings, the scent of incense smoke in the air, dark moody candle lit rooms made of stone…. It was the ultimate in ritual. If I could build my dream beauty space it would have all of those features.
When it comes to your creations, ingredients play a massive role. Where do you source them from? What are your favourite ingredients to formulate with?
Yes, ingredient quality is one of the most important things to us. I’m proud that in a saturated market of organic skincare we are able to stand out and I think it’s because our ingredient quality is apparent. I’m a sucker for a really good rose absolute, I also really love ambrette.
Dearest Athena, in your opinion, why is skincare so empowering for so many?
I believe that a skincare routine is a ritual. For me it represents how I am doing and how I want to care for myself. If I’m taking care of my skin, I am also taking care of myself. I eat the cleanest and highest quality food that I can find because it makes me healthier and makes me feel happier and I feel the same way about what I put on my skin.
What is the holy grail product of your line?
It’s probably the Rose Cleansing Oil. This cleanser contains precious Edwardian rose oil, it’s so luxurious and truly a game changer for the skin. On its own it’s able to cure the toughest kinds of acne, because of its healing abilities.
What would be the perfect Monastery daily beauty regime?
For me, a Minimal yet effective nighttime skincare routine would be Rose Cleansing Oil followed by our Attar Repair Balm. During the day I would apply Gold Oil Serum and Aloe Hyaluronic, followed by the Attar Repair Concentrate, once again.
What is your self-care approach?
I eat super clean whole foods and use super clean whole skincare, I don’t put anything in or on my body that isn’t from the earth. I wind down with a bath almost every day. I light candles or incense, use salts, flowers, and oils in my bath, it’s a real ritual and I look forward to it every day, I use it as a time to think.
Are there any beauty secrets that your mother or grandmother passed down to you?
My grandmother lived a very organic lifestyle but on the other side of that she was actually a fancy and beautiful woman. Heels, dresses, makeup. She believed a woman should present herself in that way every day. I once asked her if she disapproved of my casual clothes and no makeup look and she said no, you present yourself as a strong woman, no matter what you're wearing and to me that's the same thing as dressing fancy. I loved that, I think that strength is beauty.
What does it mean for you to be a female entrepreneur?
I don’t think about it actually but I guess it means that I can hope that my sons will grow up knowing that it's completely normal for a woman to be in power.
What are your thoughts on aging?
I love the newer term ‘wise skin’ instead of aging skin. It’s totally true. Every year you are wiser and for that reason I look forward to aging.
How about exercise and wellness?
I love exercising. I just haven’t been doing too much of it recently. I always do a little yoga here and there but I also love the endorphin boost from a good cardio session, looking forward to more of that in 2021.
Name three beauty products that you always have in your handbag.
Attar repair concentrate, Flora botanical cream serum, Zoca lotion Spf 30.
And three ride-or-die products?
Rose Cleansing Oil, Attar repair concentrate, RMS un-cover up concealer.
What is the last thing you do before going to sleep?
I do crossword puzzles on my phone, and it puts me right to sleep. I think the brain power needed makes me tired. haha.
And the first thing you do in the morning?
Drink a glass of water.
Your favourite holistic destination?
Pozar Thermal Baths outside of Thessaloniki, Greece.
Your favourite healthy meal?
Arugula, romaine, and a simple tahini dressing that I make.
What is one dream you have that you have yet to accomplish?
Going on adventures overseas with my sons. My husband and I used to travel a lot but we haven’t gotten the chance to yet with the boys.
And last but not least. Share with us your 3 pearls of wisdom.
Be sure of yourself and confident in the choices you make but always know that you have a lot more to learn. Generosity is the easiest thing to give. Being humble is sexy - True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.
And of course, don't forget to share your Monastery Made routine on Instagram and tag us @muse_and_heroine.
Credits Ph: Monastery; The Chalkboard Mag