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HUMANS WE HEART: KATONYA BREAUX, FOUNDER OF UNSUN COSMETICS

Who doesn’t love a little fun in the sun? Katonya Breaux certainly did, until she realized the toll it was taking on her skin. Unable to find products that worked well with her complexion, she brought them into the world herself. We caught up with her and chatted all about it, as well as some of her current favorite reads, listens, future vacation plans and more.

Hi Katonya! Mind if we go through a few getting-to-know-you Qs?

COFFEE ORDER:

Decaf latte with oat milk.

Ideal outfit:

A lovely flowing sundresswith pretty, comfy sandals.

Books on your nightstand:

The Bhagavad Gita by Eknath Easwaran, The Energy of Prayer by Thich Nhat Hanh and The Psychedelic Explorers Guide by James Fadiman.

Podcasts/albums/playlists in your earbuds:

The Butterfly Forecast podcast with Melody Ehsani and Julie Burns Walker, and a playlist called Connect to Spirit and Light, which is a compilation of vibrational music.

Tell us a little about how Unsun Cosmetics came to be.

I discovered a few black moles on my face in my late 30s and panicked. All of the women in my family had them, but not until their late 60s and beyond. They were coming on too soon. I immediately made an appointment with the dermatologist, who told me the moles weren’t genetic, but from sun damage. I was floored! Sun damage? I’m Black, we don’t get sun damage...right?
I immediately went to the drug store to buy sunscreen. The first thing I noticed was that the product irritated my eyes. It took some time to find mineral sunscreen, which was kinder on my eyes, but had me looking like Casper the ghost. I tried a tinted version, but the tint, since it wasn’t formulated with my chocolate skin in mind, left me gray or purple. Fast forward to 2013 where I decided to create a clean, mineral-based sunscreen that would offer more universal and inclusive tints.

Katonya wears the Gingham Jacquard Square-Neck Top and is pictured with essentials from Unsun Cosmetics.

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned in the process of starting your own business?

Considering that I started my first business at the age of 21, I’ve learned so many lessons! Many have been expensive (those are the best ones—they have the greater impact). I’ve learned the importance of being prepared and organized beyond the short term. The old saying, “look at the bigger picture,” is everything in business. I’ve also learned the importance of making team changes sooner than later. A bad hire can derail everything. It’s hard because I want to help everyone!

How do you take care of yourself and stay motivated when things get stressful?

I try to take care of myself from deep within to the outer skin. I meditate each morning before I do anything else, including checking my phone. I’m vegan and try to eat a whole food and organic diet as much as possible. I use clean products on my skin and sunscreen without fail. I also do monthly Reiki and massage sessions.

Katonya wears the Embroidered-Sleeve Popover Midi Dress.

Speaking of taking care of yourself, do you have any plans to visit any sunny destinations soon? Where to?

Well, I live in Los Angeles, so there’s that! But I’m going to spend a long weekend in Cancun in two weeks, and then another long weekend at a beautiful retreat in Santa Barbara two weeks after that.

Finally, since this is our Humans We Heart series, is there someone you admire that you’d like to shout out here?

I admire my dear friend Helene Sy, founder of Siyah Organics, who sells incredible healing oils, soap and teas that help communities in Senegal, and are also incredibly beneficial to the user. Helene has farms in Africa that grow the organic plants used in her products, and the quality of her spirit matches these beautiful offerings.

Thank you so much, Katonya. Stock up on her Unsun Cosmetics right here.