Tata Harper | Apiece Apart Woman
There’s little elbow room in the skincare industry — with self-proclaimed "experts" and smoke & mirrors promises spewing out of every possible corner, sometimes it can feel like a moral dilemma to even pick out a bar of soap. And yet…there are few voices in skincare who warrant more respect, authority, and authentic expertise than Tata Harper. A pioneer in every sense, Tata started her eponymous line trying to hack the system of luxury natural skincare at a time when “clean beauty” was limited to buying jojoba oil at the health food store. Years ahead of her competitors, she worked to create products inspired by her upbringing in Barranquilla, Columbia, where she watched her grandmother transform avocado, honey, and ingredients from the garden into facial treatments, and witnessed examples of women taking self-care into (literally) their own hands.
Today, Harper needs little introduction. Her line is a household name, and we’ve long followed her both to line our shelves with luxuriously effective skincare tinctures…and as an example in leadership. Tata embodies what it it means to run a truly sustainable business, letting your values, passion, and dogged will steer the ship. We were so excited to have this wide-ranging conversation with her, discussing everything from her past life as a real estate developer to the Japanese one-pot dinners she makes for her kids to where she goes on vacation (dream!) to how she wears her Apiece Apart summer pieces. (And not to worry, we couldn’t NOT ask her about her own skincare routine, in extensive detail).
Can you share more about your upbringing and background? What might a stranger be curious to learn about you, or what background might give them context into who you are today?
I was born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia by my mother and grandmother who were obsessed with beauty. After high school, I wanted to study fashion, but my mother encouraged me to attend school in Mexico to become an industrial engineer. While I have always liked to work, I have never had a corporate job…I feel you are born an entrepreneur and you can't avoid it! Before founding my skincare line I lived in Miami with my husband Henry, where we worked in real estate development. (The first building we built is located in what is now known as Wynwood, but at the time in the process of recovery. We were there at the beginning of it all!)
While I was living in Miami my stepfather was diagnosed with cancer. Through helping him change his lifestyle I started examining everything I was putting in and on my body, including skincare. For the longest time, natural beauty was thought to be simple and low quality – a lot of the textures and experiences weren’t designed for a serious skincare client. At the same time, when I went to department stores they had a few natural ingredients, most of which were mixed with synthetics and chemicals. I couldn’t find any natural products that gave me the results and the luxury experience I was looking for, so I set out to create my own. I wanted to fuse both worlds and create products that were 100% natural but made with high quality, potent ingredients.
Natural beauty products are a part of your lineage. Can you share a bit more about your family traditions when it comes to skin care - are there any memories that come to mind from your childhood as it relates to beauty or skincare? Perhaps a ritual from a family member, mother, grandmother, or an ingredient or memory from your upbringing that you’ve carried with you?
Growing up, I was surrounded by vibrant Latin culture that was so unique and impactful in shaping who I am today. As a young girl, I was immersed in a household of strong, entrepreneurial women that loved beauty – we’re a total of 35 cousins and 20 of those are women – so there was a dedication to self-care.
My grandmother would host spa parties in her house every weekend and invite all of these women to come try her hair mask or body scrub. I loved helping her make the products from scratch, using local Colombian ingredients that came from the earth. It was a lot of DIY face masks and treatments using ingredients like avocado, honey, and lemon, and things growing around us locally or fresh from the store.
I would watch her teach the women how to take care of their skin and noticed how much more confident and beautiful they would feel after my grandmother would do the treatments. From a young age, I had a growing appreciation for helping women embrace their individuality as their own and helping them to be the best version of themselves. When I started to formulate my own products, I thought there was no better way to see if they worked than hosting my own spa parties. I would invite my close friends and family over and I would walk them through some of the first regimens that we created. By trial and error and listening to the feedback of those I loved and trusted, it resulted in a line of products that are high performance and deliver incredible results. Today, one of my favorite parts of my job is still hosting beauty classes and helping women feel confident and more beautiful in their own skin.
What are some personal non-negotiables when it comes to maintaining your own sense of “wellness” or “balance”?
Exercise - I love working out. This is how I start my day.
Beauty Routine - My beauty routine is an “in & out job,” making skin beautiful on the outside, and making me feel incredible on the inside. Right now I'm focusing more on rehydrating the skin and layering exfoliators and moisturizers for my summer routine. I like to start my routine double cleansing: only using one cleanser is like taking a shower with your clothes on. This technique is the ultimate secret to fresh, healthy-looking skin. At night, I always like to use our Nourishing Oil Cleanser to get rid of that top layer of dirt and grime from the day, then I follow with the Purifying Cleanser to actually cleanse and detox my skin. I follow with Hydrating Floral Essence to help prep my skin for treatment and help my serums penetrate deeper. Then it’s all about layering — I use Elixir Vitae on my whole face, next I’ll use Elixir Vitae Eye Cream, and then Reparative Moisturizer. Lastly, I apply Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil to lock in moisture.
For haircare, I brush my hair with a wooden brush! I grew up hearing my grandma say that brushing would keep my hair beautiful and make it grow, so that stuck with me. And I love applying oils that stimulate hair follicles, like the Anveya x Nikita Upadhyay roots oil-in serum.
Supplements - Supplements are such a big part of my wellness routine. First I start with my superfood powders. I add Vital Reds by Gundry MD which has 34 superfruits and probiotics to help maintain higher energy levels, better digestion, and healthier-looking skin. Then I add this Microbiome Labs Mega Prebiotic. Prebiotics work on gut health to increase your microbial diversity and selectively feed only the good bacteria in your gut. Then I add a spoonful of the Pure Synergy Organic Superfood powder, which has 60+ organic ingredients to maintain wellness. It helps me feel energized while supporting my immune system. Next I add a spoonful of the Mushroom Blend Mix from Four Sigmatic. All of these mushrooms also help work to boost my immune system. For a beauty supplement, I love the Vital Proteins Marine Collagen. Collagen powders help to support your hair, skin, nails, and joints. So I always add in a spoonful of this. I also use the He Shou Wu Rejuvenating Tonic from Sun Potion, an herb that works to nourish the blood, hair, skin, and nervous system while boosting the immune system and antioxidant activity.
I´m also obsessed with a tea called Butterfly Pea tea which I have everyday — helps with anxiety, clears the mind, and supports your nervous system.
Sauna + Aromatherapy - I also love regularly getting into the infrared sauna for at least 30 minutes. I swear my skin looks and feels better afterwards, plus I get better sleep!
I love essential oils and they’re a big part of our skincare. When I need a little boost, I use one of our aromatic skin treatments or love using my Vitruvi diffuser for at-home essential oil blends.
Meditation - I love to end my days by completely disconnecting before I go to sleep and doing a short meditation. I like to use the Insight Timer App, which allows me to do guided meditations and clear my mind.
How do you define “sustainability”? And can you describe a pivotal moment in how you approach creating sustainable products for your brand?
Our mission is to make products that are better for people and the planet. There are different definitions and perceptions of sustainability, but we believe true sustainability requires a 360 approach. We create products that enrich, not deplete, our environment and resources. We consider everything from using local ingredients and talent, to packaging, to manufacturing processes, and respecting living creatures.
The future of sustainability for us is ending single-use products. We have been working for over a year on developing refills, starting with our bestsellers and then implementing it across the entire line. Even though glass is infinitely recyclable, the goal is to reduce as much waste as possible.
What are some of your favorite escapes in the natural world – specific places where you love to be out in nature, either at home or away?
I´m in love with Hawaii, especially the island of Kauai. Big Sur, and the Parque Tayrona in Colombia.
What’s a complicated recipe you absolutely love to cook? What’s an extremely simple recipe that you love just as much?
I’ve been loving making a lighter version of chicken pot pie sourced with ingredients from local farms. It is the ultimate comfort food. I also love a Japanese dish called donabe — a clay pot where you can add broth, protein, rice, and vegetables to create a super comforting and healthy meal. I love how versatile it is and that I can make it at home for my kids.
If you could go back a decade, what would you tell your then-self?
I would go back and tell my 20-year-old self to not take young love too seriously. Go out there and experience the world through your own eyes without someone else’s influence. Return the flirty phone calls, say thank you for the beautiful flowers, go on dates, and adventurous trips. You never know where spontaneous escapades will take you. This is a time that you will never get back. Put yourself out there and don’t let anyone or anything stop you. Most importantly, have fun!
Is there a song or album you could play forever on repeat?
Luis Miguel, “Grandes Éxitos”
How do you like to feel when you are getting dressed — and how has your personal style evolved over the years?
Fashion is such an important part of self-expression for me — I was even planning on studying it before I eventually landed on industrial engineering. I find fashion so fun and love discovering new designers and playing with color and texture. More importantly, I love finding brands that reflect my values, those who implement socially-conscious supply-chains, empower women through opportunities, and take accountability for their environmental impact. I think my personal style has evolved over the years... I'm more laid back now but still love to be put together. Very casual-chic.
Do you have any sort of wardrobe “uniform” of favorite pieces (perhaps including some of your Apiece Apart favorites?)
I wear a lot of denim and I consider myself a collector. I recently discovered the Merida Pant — the perfect fit! Now that the world is reopening, I'm excited to take my time getting ready to go places! In the summertime I love to wear dresses (the Cabo Wrap Dress is a favorite combination of feminine and sleek.)