Tata Harper has always known the wonders of the beauty ritual.
Growing up in Barranquilla, Colombia, she learned from a young age that women can take pride in taking care of themselves. “It’s the epitome of Latin culture—it’s vibrant, it’s noisy, and it’s on the Caribbean coast, so it’s warm and sunny. Music is always playing in the background and people are really open and happy,” Harper says of her hometown. “And they love beauty. It’s one of those things that is a sacred ritual.”
As one of 35 cousins—most of them women—in a tight-knit family, she grew up surrounded by feminine energy and a deep understanding of beauty as a conduit for community.
“It started with my grandmother; she really infused this idea on us that beauty is not a chore, but really this relaxing moment—something that you do to pamper yourself, to make you feel good. And I’m kind of addicted to it,” she recalls via phone from her adopted home of Connecticut. “My grandmother used to host a lot of spa parties—almost every weekend—and invited a lot of our family and friends. I was there with her, I would say, 95 percent of the time, helping out by smashing avocados or warming up olive oil or making oat paste for a face mask. We were always mixing a lot of things from the supermarket, and it was so fun. It really amplified my love for all things beauty from when I was a young girl.”
Of course, any luxury beauty enthusiast today will recognize that Harper’s passion never wavered. As the founder of Tata Harper Skincare, she has become a singular voice in the clean beauty movement, demonstrating that it is in fact possible to make products in the United States; and to make them with all-natural ingredients; and to make them premium; and to make them sustainable; and to make them actually work.
Sourcing the best ingredients around the world and then producing everything in her company’s state-of-the-art Vermont lab, she is able to retain control while remaining nimble and keeping pace at the forefront of natural, high-end skincare innovation.
“I see my role as a curator of ingredients from different parts of the world. And new technologies—whether they are new biotech or newly-discovered raw minerals—that come from every corner of the globe,” she says. “Ingredients are everything to us. Everything.”
Which posed an interesting challenge for Harper and her team a few years ago when they set out to create Superkind, their new collection for sensitive skin that launched in April 2021. Part of what makes Tata Harper products so special is their multifunctionality, which stems from Harper’s own love of packing as much goodness into one little bottle as possible. But pulling things back proved to be its own unique joy.
The full interview is available exclusively in Natural Habitat Print Issue No. 1. Order your copy here.