Beyond social media campaigns and hashtags, it is important that we pay rapt attention to ingredients on skin and hair products that we use on our body. It has been scientifically proven that not only are products containing hidden harmful ingredients not biodegradable and harmful to our environment but they also pose long term health problems because these harmful ingredients are absorbed directly into the hair shaft. We therefore applaud brands that are setting the standard for clean, healthy and sustainable beauty with natural, cruelty-free plant-based products.

One such forward thinking brand is Aya Holistic Bodywork founded by Akila Bond, a licensed massage therapist, certified birth doula and certified Level 2 Reiki practitioner. Aya Holistic Bodywork is a culturally-centered health and wellness brand that provides massage therapy, doula assistance, and handmade skincare products with the goal to encourage the benefits of living a healthier, holistic lifestyle.

I sat down for a quick chat with the devoted and amazing mom-prenuer and we had an insightful conversation about her brand and its significant contributions to the global health and wellness industry. Speaking on the inspiring journey that led to the birth of her brand. She told me;

“I had different experiences that divinely led me to create Aya Holistic Bodywork, but it wasn’t until I had my daughter two years ago, also named Aya, that I began to do more in-depth research in holistic skincare and awareness. My daughter had eczema and when I took her to see her pediatrician, they suggested prescribing topical steroid creams, which I immediately rejected. Having spent the past five years learning about the holistic connections between what we put into our bodies and how it ultimately can affect our physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing, I began doing research on how to make the skincare products I had already created more optimal for those with skin conditions like my daughter using more sustainable, traditionally significant ingredients. This led to the birth of my brand and we have since helped several women reclaim their power through ancestrally inspired healing presented with modern practicality.”

We also talked about the idea behind the brand name. I initially thought it was named after her beautiful daughter but little did I know it meant so much more.

“I chose the name ‘AYA’ for my business because of what that concept meant to me, who I primarily work with and what I do in my practices. ‘AYA’ is a conceptual symbol from the Akan tradition of Ghana represented by the fern. Ferns are plants capable of growing in any and all conditions; despite the circumstances, environment and surroundings. A resourceful, resilient life-force able to overcome and successfully thrive in spite of whatever obstacle comes their way. My goal through my practice is to remind those who seek help and products from me that we are AYA: each of us made from a beautifully detailed story exemplifying our resilience, resourcefulness and divine strength.”

I don’t know about you but I was definitely convinced enough to try these amazing products and gift them to loved ones. There’s nothing like a thoughtful gift with such a profound backstory.

Here’s all you need to know about their glorious product range:

Aya’s Sacred Glow Skincare Bundle: This is the ideal skin care set containing products that caters to all your skin care needs from head to toe! Included in this bundle is Lavender Liquid Black Soap (doubles as body wash and shampoo), Aya’s Glow Face Serum, Whipped Shea Butter (Available in Lavender or Milk & Honey; 7oz or 12oz) and Facial Toner (Alcohol Free and available in Chamomile or Rose).

The best part? This bundle comes with a simplified four step routine to make implementing much easier. It is also ideal for all skin types including those with oily skin, eczema, or acne prone skin. The products in this skincare set are packed with skin healing ingredients. For instance, lavender possesses antimicrobial and antibacterial skin calming properties. Rosehip oil nourishes the skin and encourages healthy collagen production, and the black soap helps alleviate dry, itchy skin, dandruff, eczema symptoms and much more.

Equinox Glow Skincare Bundle: Similar to the Aya’s Sacred Glow Bundle, the Equinox Glow bundle includes four products and also comes with a simplified four step routine to make application easier. What makes this bundle unique however, is the use of ingredients that not only benefit the skin but also carry spiritual properties. Included in this bundle are Sage and Citrus Liquid Black Soap (doubles as body wash and shampoo), Rooibos Facial Toner, Aya’s Glow Face Serum Sage and Citrus Whipped Shea Butter.

Sage is a scent known for its association with spiritual protection, energetic restoration, balance and clarity. Citrus provides an uplifting, invigorating scent that has been associated with boosting self-esteem, will-power and feelings of love and motivation. It also includes rooibos, which is a plant native to South Africa and, when drank as a tea, is known for its high iron content, anti-allergy and respiratory benefits. It also helps soothe irritated skin caused by sunburn, eczema or dry skin.

Gua Sha Face Set: Gua Sha, a long-practiced therapy in traditional Chinese medicine is a form of scraping, pressing and angular kneading massage that promotes proper blood and energy flow within the body’s channels and meridians. Gua Sha helps to improve immune system functions through lymph drainage and adjusts the body’s natural homeostasis. The oils included in this Gua Sha Face oil are all non-comedogenic, meaning that they do not clog the skin’s pores, making it great for those with acne prone or excessively oily skin. A few of the many benefits of this face oil are; it helps to fight acne, dark spots and hyperpigmentation.

It relieves inflammation, rashes and eczema and the Jojoba oil which is a main ingredient helps control skin’s natural oil production to help control acne; extra hydrating; rich in nutrients and Vitamins B, E, zinc & copper, all essential for protecting skin. What makes this set special is that it comes included with a crystal gua sha stone and allows you to be an active participant in not just your skin care, but your own self-care by performing self-massage!

“I AM” Scented Body Oil Collection: Our scented body oil collection comes with 3 uniquely created perfumes. Each one with their own special gemstone roller ball, handmade scent and name; all of which are unique to a particular energy center within the body. “I AM: Honored” is an earthy citrus scent that comes with a Tiger’s Eye gemstone roller. This body oil was created to be associated with the Solar Plexus center known for resonating wisdom, courage, protection and the will-power needed to manifest plans into action. “I AM: Loved” is a rosy floral scent that comes with a Rose Quartz gemstone roller.

This body oil was created to be associated with the Heart center which is known for resonating with unconditional love, emotional healing and self-love in all its many forms. “I AM: Enlightened” is a calming lavender blend that comes with an Amethyst gemstone roller. This body oil was created to be associated with the Crown center which is known for resonating with high vibrational energy, spiritual awareness and intuition. It promotes connection to the Source and access to divine wisdom.

Yoni Massage Oil: Yoni is a sanskrit word that defines the womb and all associated female organs. In many indigenous cultures, the physical, emotional and spiritual health and wellbeing of a woman was directly related to the overall health of her womb center. Our Yoni Massage Oil is specifically created with a blend of different oils and herbs that are used to encourage overall vaginal and feminine care and is an ideal blend for perineum massage (a type of massage used on the area between the vaginal opening and anus to ensure healthier vaginal birth), tantric massage, and yoni egg insertion (an egg-shaped stone used to encourage vaginal and pelvic strength).

The Yoni Massage Oil has many external benefits including: increasing natural moisture, relieving inflammation, soothes itching, improves skin elasticity and decreases the occurrence of ingrown hairs.

Akila hopes in the near future to have a physical location for her services and products. Her greatest hopes for the store is for it to be a source for educational materials, spiritual refuge, and a hub for community involvement.

She also plans to host culturally significant speakers for lectures, workshops, spiritual retreats, as well as non-profit community events. With regards to growth in her industry, Akila would like to see accurate representation of African American massage therapists, birth doulas and alternative holistic practitioners. Along with this, she would also like to see more awareness and acknowledgement around how racial disparities, cultural incompetence and structural inequalities in health fields can have adverse effects on the overall health of black patients as well as other patients of color.  With the way things are, we are positive these changes will manifest sooner than later!

Shop these amazing must have products on and connect with the brand on Instagram @ayaholisticbodywork