Anna Ayers met her husband Fabian Lliguin when he gave her the perfect haircut at his Upper East Side salon (a sure sign he was marriage material). As they fell for each other, Fabiane introduced Anna to his side hustle: organizing educational workshops to help the indigenous Quechua people in his native Ecuador learn their legal land rights and sell their crafts through non-profit he founded, called Ecoagents. So, what does that have to do with founding a haircare line? As it turns out, plenty.
When the two went on a rainforest expedition together, they realized Fabian’s two passions could, oddly enough, be fused, thanks to the discovery of an oil called rahua, made from the nuts of a palm tree called ungurahua. “The oil is produced ceremonially. Only women are allowed to prepare it, and it cooks for up to a month,” explains Anna. “The finished product has very small molecules, so it penetrates the hair follicles to heal from the inside out.” The couple officially founded Rahua in 2008 with a split-end-banishing oil serum, and they now have a full line, from shampoo to shower gel to a wonder-working finishing treatment. With the company’s growth, Fabian and Anna have been able to have a bigger impact, on their clients’ strands and and the status quo of their Ecuadorian partners. “Making rahua was a fading tradition,” says Anna. “The new demand has re-invigorated the young people to learn how to do it.” —liz sheldon