A conscious conversation — with Atinge
Being a lover of all things design, I will be honest to say that in the case of Atinge, the packaging was the number one drawing card.
What I love the most about my fixation for well designed packaging, is when you find out that the content inside is even better than the outside. It's a wonderful discovery and a very satisfying feeling when a product's 'shell' encapsulates its soul — something I think every designer strives to achieve. ( and Cocorrina achieved with flying colours in this case )
I was so curious to know the story behind this elevated natural beauty brand that I decide to get in touch and find out myself. I was 'greeted' over email with the heart and soul behind Atinge, Ami Lungu — and soon mesmerized by her journey and the tale of how Atinge was born.
Before I give too much away, I would like to introduce you to Ami Lungu and Atinge — and seeing that this is the season for all of us to bask in the sun and her story being rooted in the search of a natural sunscreen, sharing this conscious conversation couldn't happen at a more fitting time.
Tell us about Atinge and how it started?
Atinge is a fresh beauty brand dedicated to the art of natural beauty and aromatherapy. The Atinge cosmetics are manufactured in an artisanal way in a very beautiful part of Transylvania, surrounded by wild untouched nature with pristine hills and mountains.
Our purpose is to provide an all natural alternative to people who are looking for pure, clean, ethically made cosmetics. The story of Atinge is blended with my life story. It all started seven years ago, when our first child, Lua, was born. As a mother I wanted to take care of my child in the most natural way possible. First major change was to leave the big city life and move in the heart of nature, in a magical place with apple and cherry orchards, mountains and springs. The second important step was to become aware of what "natural" really means. I then realized how many harmful chemicals and synthetic compounds exist in foods and cosmetics. It was really difficult to find a natural sunscreen for little Lua so I decided to try and create one myself. I studied a bit, I trusted my intuition and magic happened: I created an all natural sunscreen and a repellent oil to protect her delicate skin in the most tender and harmless way possible. Simple as that. Days went by and our friends started to use my formulas for them and for their children as well. Their positive feedback encouraged me to pursue on this path of creating home made cosmetics. Years went by and here we are: a young company weaving an original story around three essential values: high quality organic ingredients, real freshness of the products guaranteed by the small production batches and respect for the environment by using recyclable recipients and zero carbon manufacturing techniques.
What is the story behind the name Atinge?
ATINGE is a romanian word and it means TOUCH in English. Touch the skin, touch the heart, touch the nature. Most probably the name showed up in my mind from a deeper need to reconnect with nature. A kind of "return to innocence" state of mind. Something simple and authentic. The name just popped in, just like the names of my daughters, Lua and Ambra. It probably has always been there, in my subconscious . I believe Atinge is the perfect name to inspire people all over the world and to inspire us, the people behind Atinge. When you touch the skin with a cream or a natural oil you feel your body alive and your mind reconnects with the body. When you touch your mind with the aromatic essence of a plant a kind of magic happens and you feel an instant connection. It is a deeply healing and energizing moment. That moment is Atinge.
What did you do before you started Atinge and how does that influence what you do today?
I used to be a fashion designer and I was creating clothes, mostly from sustainable and natural textiles. I loved my creative years in the world of fashion but the moment our first daughter was born I stopped designing and indulged myself in the beautiful motherhood journey. It was supposed to be just a break, a deep long breath. I needed to stop and to enjoy life from this new perspective but in the back of my mind it was always the thought that I will get back to my creative work somewhere in near future. Life offered me a new surprise and a second baby whispered her name in my existence. By then, I understood that it's going to be a very long break from the fashion world:) Five years later, the Atinge project started to develop so all my creativity switched from covering the skin to nourishing the skin. My arty background influences me in a positive way, helping me take care of Atinge aesthetics (insta feed , website ). Oh and all these years of fashion spent in women’s company helped me understand their real needs. When a woman wants to be beautiful she actually wants to be loved and when a woman wants to be powerful she actually wants to be reassured and safe. A modern woman is conscious and connected to nature. She understands that natural care helps her look and feel good. By the way: natural self confidence is the best make up.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love so much working and creating for Atinge! It’s so rewarding to be surrounded by natural essences scents and delicate textured oils. It is a privilege to sense and smell nature, to connect with different plants and experience every time their energy and to understand their mission on Earth. I love to experience and learn and this is something I can do within this project. Atinge nourishes my soul and it is a playground for my creativity. Every time I open an essential oils recipient a story unfolds. Literally! I sometimes find myself dreaming with open eyes after smelling Rosa Damascena . I smell Cistus Ladanifer and my heart opens, my face relaxes and inner peace settles in. Plants are so much alive and powerful especiallly if concentrated in a tiny bottle. Sometimes I try new formulas and by the end of the experiments the whole studio is filled with fragrances. The olfactory sense has the great power to trigger emotional memories. It can make you fall in love or remember sweet childhood at a glance. It can heal and calm you or can instantly balance your moods. I love reading a lot about everything connected to natural perfumery, natural approaches on cosmetic care and botanical history or facts. Books and personal stories. It’s so nice to live those Evrika! moments whenever I find the answer of some new formula puzzle or an intriguing plant chemistry question. I guess it’s a long term friendship with nature, developing day by day.
We absolutely love Atinge's brand identity and packaging design - tell us more about the design?
It's flattering to hear your appreciation words about Atinge identity. Thank you! We are also in love with the look and feel of Atinge. The brand identity was a long but beautiful metamorphosis .We basically started out the brand in 2012 with no packaging :) Just a blank glass recipient and a piece of manual paper with the ingredients written on it. Along the years we evolved through different stages but it was in 2015 that we decided to have a radical change of the brand identity. I had some ideas about what I wanted , like the secondary logo of Atinge (the hand with the branch). However i was looking for somebody who can help create the brand's identity so I started to look out for creative people on the web. I was really lucky to find the artist who could feel and understand our needs and our vision. The artist who helped us create this graceful imagery is Cocorrina. She is a very dear and talented graphic designer living on a Greek island. I praise Cocorrina as one of the most gifted and hard working visual artist I know. You can see her works at www.cocorrina.com We clicked so easy and we worked in such a smooth manner. We wanted to work with somebody who lives in nature and has a connection with the world of plants so Cocorinna fitted perfectly since she was living in this Mediterranean paradise surrounded by the sea, the sky and the plants. She understood really well what we wanted and she delivered so many beautiful layouts. It took us a while to decide on what works best for Atinge and after 6 months of exchanging ideas we decided to keep the versions that you see now. It took us another 6 months to produce all of the packagings and at the end of 2016 we finally launched the new identity.
Do you see Atinge as your future and something you want to pass onto your next generation?
Definitely yes! When my life partner and I started out the project we agreed on one thing and that was: "Let's make this a sustainable project with a long term vision. Something that we can pass on to our daughters if they will ever be interested in joining us." And the bonus is that we'll smell nice in our old age and our wrinkles will be all natural :)
What are your biggest challenges as a small business owner?
Oh...where shall I start from? Maybe one of the biggest challenges for me is how to deal with multitasking. When you start an entrepreneurial venture, there are so many things to do before creating that cool team that can ease the workflow. It takes time, dedication and money to make a small business grow and glow. I am an artist and my beloved man and partner in this project is also an artist so we don't really know the world of business. There are many challenges we face as business owners because we also have our individual needs and dreams plus a family life with two very energetic kids who need us as parents always present, always "there". In between all of these we need to find the time to take care of Atinge so we need to prioritize things and that's quite a challenge. There are so many things to be done behind the scenes in order to deliver those fresh creams and to keep alive the media feeds, like manufacturing the products/ taking care of the creative side /promotion / marketing /distribution / sales . We try to take it lightly and we often imagine that we are playing a game, because in the end it's all about play. We look at our little girls and we remember that life is about playing, about being happy in the moment. If we lose the enthusiasm and we get trapped in the numbers cage...what's the meaning of all this? I think this would be the ultimate challenge: to keep the joy alive and the smile in our hearts while navigating with Atinge in the materialistic realms, with solid structures and strict rules. We want to be happy with what we create and give our gift to the world so other people can enjoy the magic and beauty of nature.
Where do you find advice / mentoring for growing Atinge as a business?
I have some books about small business entrepreneurs and I read them whenever I have the chance. Internet is also a place where you can find advice and my partner is studying online some aspects of this kind of business like marketing , management and sales. However, we both trust our "gut feeling" and we try to see the business world with our own eyes because we believe that in today's society, authenticity can be of more value than some well proven marketing strategies. We receive a lot of feedback from our customers and we somehow consider them as some kind of mentors and advisers for our business. It's a continous learning process and we are here to learn so for all the gurus out there we send the message: We are ready! Please show up and teach us what we need to know in order to grow Atinge in a healthy sustainable manner.
Being a creative female, how important is wellbeing as a women for you?
Well, that's a nice question and I'm so happy to talk about this aspect. I need to be surrounded by a lot of nature, that's my wellbeing. I need to know my children are breathing clean air and they eat as healthy as possible. I need to travel to the sea or to hike in the mountains. To have the time to dream and to enjoy all the plants around me without any rush or deadlines. I need peace and peace of mind. Wellbeing is vital. I'm looking for it and make it happen. And yes, some guilty pleasures in order to create the wellbeing and nurture creativity are good quality design, eco fabrics and good food in my everyday life. For instance, my good creative day starts with a high quality green tea on terrace, enjoying the mountain view and feeling the fresh air. Then my creative start is set. The day can begin. That's wellbeing I assume.
Do you have specific rituals you practice as a means to wellness as a women?
Wellness starts from the inside and it's a mindset. Vipassana meditation is a very powerful help for my inner balance, where health and wellbeing start. Then comes the gratitude ritual, even this is a new approach in my life. We may feel gratitude in our minds for many things or persons but saying it loudly and meaning it with all our heart is a true healing for everyone involved. Another favorite ritual is "nature walks" with my family . This helps us reconnect and be together. Whenever I have the time I enjoy doing yoga. Beauty rituals are simple : a good warm relaxing bath to clean and renew energy, dry brushing, a nice nourishing cream from Atinge and always new combinations of essential oils in the bedroom diffuser. Last time we had Frankincense and Blue Cypress essential oils and it felt like a breeze of the ocean ventilating on a bay (Australian if possible..)
What does self-care mean to you as a women and how do you make that part of your day life?
Self care is important. It means having some time reserved just for myself. There is a saying that inspires me: "Compassion means nothing if it does not include yourself"
When do you feel like you are at your best?
Whenever something interesting, exciting and fresh is about to happen, I'm at my best. I guess novelty works for me.
Do you think your wellness has a direct influence on your business?
101 % yes. It has a big impact and I have an important project standard at ATINGE: I work only when I feel good and I do the production batches only when I am emotionally balanced. I still afford the luxury of saying no to work if I don't feel ok at that moment. I have a strong belief that the personal positive energy involved in creating cosmetics is very important for a good final result. It's like cooking with a good mood.
What is your daily skincare rituals?
The most important daily skin care ritual is drinking lots of water. It's essential for the beautiful skin. Then comes the balanced food. Then comes the organic pure skincare products. Morning means cool water on my face + Florae Hydrating Floral Mist from Atinge + Velvet Ultra Nourishing Cream from Atinge. During the day I sometimes use a simple organic coconut oil for my hands, for a quick care or a more luxurious scented rich Touch Butter Cream from Atinge. Evening means cleaning the face with organic coconut oil and then refreshing with Illuminae Eyes Area Mist ( Atinge) . It's supposed to be for the eyes area, but I spray it all over for it's chamomile and linden calming effect. I usually do dry brushing so there's no need for other face scrub. I try to keep it simple and I advice women to have only few trusted care products. Less is more for sure.
Other than actual skincare itself - what other things would you say is the most important to looking after your skin?
Hormonal balance is radical for women and their health. That's why it's so important to slow down a stressful lifestyle and enjoy the easy simple joys of life. Digestive and hormonal issues are directly mapped on the skin by outbursts, rashes, oily appearance. Since I totally believe in "we are what we think" and "we are what we eat" I would say balancing nutrition, with extra antioxidants and minerals, completed by lots of water drinking and some aligning movements will make you and your skin feel and look great.
Do you have any female mentors / muses and how do they inspire / mentor you?
Right now I consider my daughters as my muses. They simply are amazing to me: always full of joy, full of energy and very creative. There are many female mentors whom I admire but I want to use this opportunity and present you with my grandmother Stela who is turning 94 years old in November. She is the image of "timeless" for me: vital, aware and still standing.
What is your long term vision for Atinge?
I envision a bright future for Atinge but I also understand that Atinge is part of a bigger picture and that is life on planet Earth. So first and foremost I hope and pray that planet Earth will have a good evolution in the coming years. If we look around we can easily see the impact of the humans on the environment and how things are rapidly deteriorating: excessive consumerism, pollution, climate change , wild life extinction and many other ecological serious issues. I was just reading the other day about the fact that we officially became a plastic planet: right now on Earth there are at least 8,3 billions tons of plastic and half of it was produced in the last 13 years. There is more plastic in the oceans than wildlife. It looks like we are on the highway to hell and self extinction may become a reality if we indulge in ignorance. The long term vision is to make Atinge a powerful brand that can make a difference in communicating and educating people on the subject of "natural living". We intend to have a positive impact on the future generations by clearly showing an example on how you can produce and consume while you still live in accordance with the surrounding nature. We dream of creating a non profit organization at some point dedicated to this mission. Let's hope that day will come.
We all know that self-love as women is hard for us - what part of your womanhood do you celebrate the easiest?
Creativity . I long for having time to create, to dream, to feel. And there is motherhood that I'm trying to celebrate too, even if sometimes I need to find ways to combine the need of being creative and the need to serve the little ones. Sometimes it works and then I'm so happy about it. There are big standards for mothers, who are supposed to take care of their kids, of their houses, of their image, of their projects. It's a big pressure and it's not easy, at least not for me. That's why I finally understood that we need to accept our inner child first, to heal our own childhood wounds and then go further. I decided to loosen up the tight standards, to try to smile when everything seems to be such a chaos and to enjoy my children as they are, energetic, creative, free, wild, without over parenting them.
If you find yourself on a stage in front of a crowd of women - what would you say to them as motivation to be the best version of themselves?
Never cease to pursue your dreams, dear sisters! You have the powerful gift of intuition and compassion, so ask for help whenever you feel overwhelmed and give help whenever somebody is in need of help. It's our gift to give birth so return this blessing by loving your children. And your men :)
What values are most important for you to teach your little girls to grow up as strong women?
My girls are 4 and 7 and they already started to take big decisions for themselves. They became vegetarians as they understood humans kill animals and eat them. Their discovery, their decision. I trust them and love them unconditionally so I guess these two beautiful strong values (love&trust) will pass on naturally into their life. Loving themselves while loving the others. Respect nature. Find inner peace. Be kind. Live a good life. Bring beauty into this world.
Social media often makes us feel that we are not 'enough' as women through comparing ourselves as we scroll through others' 'perfect moments' - how does social media influence you as a women?
It may look like social media is influencing me, but I've been working many years in the fashion industry and I've lived behind the curtains, behind the make up, behind the glam pictures and I am somehow detached from all the thrills and frills. I appreciate genuine beauty of a face, of a moment, of a place but I always know that behind the picture there are hopes and fears, darker corners or just marketing. We're humans. I guess we're enough by nature but we just compulsively forget it. For instance, a few days ago I just passed by a very old woman sitting on an wheel chair in the sidewalk of a big street. Despite all the noise she would stay there and stare at the cars. Her eyes were so bright and beautiful but her face was all lines and wrinkles. I deeply felt that this woman was the most beautiful woman that I've seen lately, even if I scroll daily many Insta beauties and her age was probably over 80. I wanted to tell her this, but I just didn't, leaving that "perfect moment " suspended in time and space. I think the "perfect moment" and the "perfect you" must be somewhere very nearby, dressed in a crinkly pyjama and showing off proudly the first wrinkles, living life as it is not as it should be.
My favorite way of movement is
My favorite seasons are
SUMMER and AUTUMN because nature is in full bloom and the scents of harvests are filling the air.
I eat mostly
Vegetarian food because I am crazy about veggie worldwide cuisine, be it mediterranean, asian or middle east. It’s delicious!
The first thing I do when I wake up is
to look through the window and see whether it’s a sunny or a cloudy day.
The last thing I do before I go to sleep is
to read bedtime stories to my children.
My guilty pleasure is
Coffee or tea
Early bird or night owl
I get my energy from solitude / people
both of them, in search of balancing the inner and outer needs.
My favorite Atinge product is
VELVET Nourishing Face Cream that I use everyday.
passion mixed with good energy and courage.
Being a woman
makes me feel great!
Our Conscious Conversations is a way of sharing real stories and honest insights into products, people and places we admire and feel we can all learn from. Sharing is caring — and this is a series where we express our care in sharing.