Interviewed by Kelsey Harper Parker, Owner of Matriarch LA
I met Whitney a few years back shortly after I started my company Flower Girl Los Angeles. Whitney was a bride and I made her a flower crown, gave her some tips for her wedding day, and stayed in touch over instagram. When she started Rowsie Vain, I was over the moon! Whit has an incredible eye for design, and being an Ojai native, she is naturally an outdoorsy girl who's not afraid to forage for sage! She shared some of her favorite places in Ojai in our interview below.
Tell us who you are and why Ojai is so special to you.
I am Whitney Smith Morales, the owner and creator of Rowsie Vain, Mother to Daisy Monroe. I grew up in Ojai, the Valley of the Moon, and it has been my home for my entire life. Ojai is special to me for so many reasons, but mostly because it is where I feel the most comfortable, the most safe, and feel as close to nature as possible. Ojai is historically a sacred place, forever magical, and the most beautifully inspiring place I know to exist.
Where is your favorite date spot in Ojai?
My favorite date spot and restaurant in Ojai is Boccali’s in Upper Ojai. They grow their own ingredients farm to table, the food is phenomenal and the location is beyond gorgeous, with views consisting of citrus orchards and pink moment sunsets. It's best to go during strawberry season, and always say yes to dessert. I also just found out that our vintage deco-style (only) movie theatre in Ojai, Ojai Playhouse, that has been closed for the last almost four years, will be under construction soon and reopening, so I am super excited as I am sure most of Ojai is. Dinner and a movie will soon be possible again in Ojai!
Do you have a favorite experience or place in nature you’d like to share?
You can’t really escape nature when in Ojai, my favorite way to experience it is getting lost in the hills, hiking off the trails even where I shouldn’t. As a child my Grandmother took me on nature walks and she would point out flowers, plants, and taught me how to appreciate and respect nature; this stuck with me forever. My favorite place in nature, in Ojai is Chief’s Peak. You can see the Chief from mostly everywhere in Ojai The legend behind him inspires me in such a nurturing and protective way, he is always watching over us in the valley.
How has Ojai inspired your work/helped shaped you as a mother?
The Chumash Indians first lived in Ojai and used the native plants and resources for medicinal and healing purposes beyond everyday necessity. Learning about the land I grew up on and how it was used centuries before us inspires me to recreate modern day versions of those traditions. Ojai has a perfect mediterannean climate and a beautifully wild quality that connects people to its spirit through plants. Ojai not only inspires me to create earth-grown skincare solutions using what is native, organic, and ethically available, but also inspires me to sustain, preserve, and protect its recourses. Giving back what we take only allows for a sustainable process, as an active member of the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy Group, a percentage of all ROWSIE VAIN sales are donated to the organization which funds the protection and management of Ojai Valley’s open spaces for public use. When you purchase ROWSIE VAIN products, you are encouraging healthy relationships with the natural earth and helping to preserve Ojai’s views, trails, water, and wildlife for generations to come.
As a Mother, Ojai has taught me importance of kindness, slow living, to observe the beauty around me and to appreciate the tight-knit community where people are happy to help each other. Ojai encourages growth and learning through nature, art and science and I am so grateful to be able to share Ojai with my daughter, knowing she will get the very best education and be able to express herself in an accepting and nurturing environment.
I came across this quote the other day and it reminded me of Ojai’s spirit:
“Seeing beauty in a flower could awaken humans, however briefly, to the beauty that is an essential part of their innermost being, their true nature. The first recognition of beauty was one of the significant events in the evolution of human consciousness. The feelings of joy and love are intrinsically connected to that recognition. Without our fully realizing it, flowers would become for us an expression in form of that which is most high, most sacred, and ultimately formless within ourselves. Flowers, more fleeting, more ethereal, and more delicate than the plants out of which they emerged, would become like messengers from another realm, like a bridge between the world of physical forms and the formless. They not only had a scent that was delicate and pleasing to humans, but also brought a fragrance from the realm of spirit.” ~Eckart Tolle
If you could choose a certain flower or plant that’s scent or image reminds you of Ojai what would it be and why?
Ojai has so many iconic plant staples, of course everyone knows Ojai for its oranges, and the beautiful, native Oak Trees. The scent of neroli, jasmin, sage, and lavender are the most reminiscent of Ojai. However the flower that most reminds me of Ojai is the Matilija Poppy. Named after Matilija Canyon in Ojai, Matilija Poppies are said to protect the grave of the (Chumash Indian) Cheif’s daughter. The Chumash people believed that the petals of the flower were made from the soul of a maiden who died of a broken heart, and that the Chumash gods transformed her into the pure white petals.
Anything other hidden gems or favorite shops?
Topa Mountain Winery has a to die for Rosé, their vineyard is located in the Topa Topa Mountains which makes it even better.
DeKor & co. is my favorite shop for lifestyle goods, furniture, and gifts ( they also sell my products and have a new location in LA).
Seafresh & Sakura are my favorite spots for Sushi, Papa Lennon’s has amazing farm fresh pizza as well. Casa De Lagos has been our go-to family dinner restaraunt since 1986!
Rainbow Bridge Marketplace is my favorite place to pick up gifts, and has a great selection of healing crystals and gems.
I also love shopping in Ojai Baby for my daughter, they have the cutest new and used consignment and vintage baby goods.
Wachter Hay & Grain is a fun place to take the kids to see their fish tanks and bunnies, or pick up gifts and pet supplies.
Oh and I can’t forget Ben Franklin, Ojai’s original arts & crafts store where Ive spent ridiculous amounts of money on Christmas ornaments and fake flowers!
To learn more about Whitney and Rowsie Vain visit www.rowsievain.com or @rowsievain
There’s just something so charmingly aspirational about that je ne sais quoi of French lifestyle. How is it that Parisian women manage to look both completely put together and impossibly effortless at the same time? In truth, we know that the secret is balance. French girls really put their appearance at the top of the list, but they also know not to fuss over it, essentially mastering the art of simplicity. Constantly working to puzzle together the French women’s secrets, today we are rounding up 5 of our favorite, most iconic French beauties, and sharing some of our tips on how to be a little more laissez-faire when it comes to your beauty routine, bisous!
No.1 obviously, Brigitte Bardot
When we look at her perfect structure and angelic face, we see her carefree attitude shining through. En Francais, this translates to managing stress! Stress and anxiety increase the hormone cortisol, which causes inflammation that ultimately breaks down collagen and increases puffiness for a fatigued complexion. Look on the brighter side and let it radiate from within!
No.2, Anna Karina
Actually not born in France but born in Denmark, the budding actress escaped her dysfunctional family at age 18 by hitchhiking to Paris. Anna was a natural born beauty and had an untamed mysteriousness. Her wild spirit is the ultimate guide to simplicity, confidence, and mastering the art of je ne sais quoi. What we take from her, is to let go! Don’t’ be so serious, relax your facial muscles & smile, stay playful, don’t beat yourself up over the things you cannot change! Embrace who you are and stay true to yourself. Afterall, une femme est une femme!
No.3, Emmanuelle Beart
The epitome of a bare-skinned beauty. In French, less is more, and the vain-esque confidence French women radiate upon us, is due to their lack of foundation, a la makeup minimalism. See our last Story for more details, but generally, French women opt to leave their skin bare. They prefer a light powder over a mask of foundation and like to emphasize the drama of their most valued asset whether that be a bold lip or a seductive eye. Keep your routine simple and don't over do it.
No.4, Francoise Dorleac
... and the bedroom eyes on this femme fatale! Achieving bedroom eyes doesn’t mean you should look tired, wear your makeup like you wear your lingerie, with delicacy and ease. Very underestimated advice here, but so important….get enough sleep! Besides leading to dark circles, not getting enough sleep will age your skin. When you are asleep your body and the skin cells are regenerating. Not getting enough sleep cuts this critical repair time short.
No.5, Laetitia Casta
Probably prettier without make-up than with, Laetitia has the ultimate ethereal glow, sans makeup! She always seems to have the perfect sun-kissed complexion while looking like she hasn’t aged a single day. To attempt her look, Wear sunscreen! Sun exposure is the #1 cause of aging skin. Not only does exposure to the suns UV rays increase your risk of skin cancer, they damage the elastin fibers that keep the skin firm, and are responsible for age & dark spots on sun-exposed areas. Most of the changes seen in aging skin are caused by a lifetime of sun damage.
If you want a quick fix without all the effort, we suggest the following ROWSIE VAIN products to get you on the righteous path…. XO!
Without naming names, some beauty outlets have recently over-saturated the market with YouTube tutorials, trend-setters, and influencers alike, suggesting we take on a beauty routine that is in no way natural or practical. Layers upon layers of chemicals, colorants, and caked-on products can be damaging to your skin and even your self-esteem. While we may not all be blessed with Kate Moss's cheekbones, contouring is not for everyone!
There’s something so alluring about a woman with bare skin, a hint of mascara, and a bold lip. It shows that you are comfortable in your own skin; however, sadly most women are not. We don't always see what others see, and that's okay, but my message to all women is: please lighten up!! I challenge you to try out the weekend sans makeup! You will be delighted with the effortless routine and your skin will rejoice in the breathing room. At the same time, you will realize what your skin is really in need of, leading you down the road to skincare recovery.
Do something good for your skin by putting your trust into antioxidants! Antioxidants are found in almost all of ROWSIE VAIN products and can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, reverse the effects of ageing, promote a more even skin tone, and even increase circulation and cell metabolism. Antioxidants that stimulate blood flow in the skin can help encourage the growth of new cells and lighten the hyper-pigmentation caused by sun exposure. The antioxidants used in natural products are made to enhance your natural beauty. Skin should always come first, and makeup second!
To be clear, in no way are we anti-makeup, we love a pretty little cat-eye. Makeup was made to make a women feel beautiful and ROWSIE VAIN is all for that! We encourage you to have a fun and healthy relationship with makeup, which is why we wanted to share with you some of our tips on becoming a makeup minimalist.
#1. First things first, exfoliate and cleanse your skin. Remove debris, dead skin, and makeup for a fresh start. We suggest the ROWSIE VAIN Après Velvet Moisturizing Exfoliant for a rejuvenating exfoliating scrub and organic coconut oil moisturizing base which also serves as a natural skin primer.
#2. Evaluate the health of your bare skin before moisturizers and concealers. Is your skin dry or irritated, is your skin tone uneven? Balance is super important here. We suggest using a light astringent or toner to balance the PH levels of your skin. Check back soon as we launch our new line of toners and elixirs, including an everyday luxury rosewater toner with soothing organic aloe vera, as well as a balancing and calming toner with lavender and chamomile.
#3. Moisture is key! After toning and before any makeup application you should always use a moisturizer! Our Dream Crème Moisturizer is the dreamiest of rich moisturizers and full of vitamin C and antioxidants including rosehip and hibiscus extracts. You only need a small amount to moisturize your entire face and neck.
#4. Now that your skin is moisturized and feeling fresh, you can begin your makeup application. Choose your favorite feature to pop and keep the rest of your makeup to a bare minimum. For example, highlight your eyes with a simple swipe of liner and mascara, or illuminate/blush your cheekbones lightly, but keep your lips au naturel.
#5. If you feel the need to minimize the appearance of blemishes or dark spots, apply a thin layer of concealer and blend well into the effected area, but remember not to overdo it. We suggest going a shade lighter so you aren't left with a spotty application. If you want an insanely gorgeous pout and prefer to go all out on your lips, skip the eyes. Color can be so captivating and diverse on the lips. After all, it’s better to have a man ruin your lipstick, and not your mascara!
Voila! You're on your way to becoming a makeup minimalist and enjoying the benefits of healthy skin! Always remember, buy products that suit you, and not what suits trends. Contouring is not for everyone, beauty should be effortless, and less is always more!