Old world Secrets: Katharine Phillips L’Heureux carves a niche with an organic beauty line

Author: Edie Goldstein Tolchin
Posted: Monday, January 25, 2010

On the western side of the Atlantic Ocean, along the shores of the cities of Essaouira and Agadir in southwestern Morocco, Berber women working in cooperatives are busy extracting argan oil from the seeds of Argan trees.  Argan oil, from protected forests in Southwestern Morocco, is the source of a new business, Kahina-Giving Beauty, which was launched last year by Katharine Phillips L’ Heureux.


Katharine, 49, resident of Kerhonkson and New York City, first traveled to Morocco in 2007 on a guided tour with her parents. That was the beginning of a new journey into the world of beauty products and the lessons learned by working with women in third world cooperatives.


Born and raised in San Francisco and the Napa Valley, Katharine attended UC Berkeley. As a woman with many talents she went to New York City to work in the publishing industry at Double Day & Co. and later founded a public relations company in San Francisco, while she continued to be involved in her parents’ wine operations in Napa Valley.


Of all her experiences, it was working with clients at her public relations agency, Welles Phillips & Associates, that best prepared her for her new business venture. The firm specialized in luxury retail goods. Katharine represented a number of natural and organic companies, including Bare Escentuals cosmetics, Odwalla Fresh Juice, and Thomas Keller’s restaurant, The French Laundry – companies that produced products using high-quality, sustainable ingredients.


Then, ten years ago, Katharine and her husband Jim purchased 70 acres in Kerhonkson bordering Minnewaska State Park. Their property is on the former site of The Brookside Hotel, which was a typical Catskills summer resort during the 1950s where Danny Kaye was frequently the featured entertainment and Gabe Kaplan, who played the teacher in Welcome Back Kotter, was the entertainment director. In the ‘80s the hotel burned down, and the family lives in a house adjacent to the hotel that was the home of the original owners.


Along with hubby Jim, Katharine focused on raising their three children – Grace, 16, Jamie, 13 and Armant, five. Katherine and the family spend as much time as they can in Kerhonkson. She loves to cook big dinners while there in the summer months, using veggies from her garden. Says Katharine, “It was organic gardening that raised my awareness of the chemicals that are on our food. From there, I began to think about the other chemicals that we are exposed to, including those in our skin care.” She says, that “skin is our largest organ, and everything we put on our skin enters our system.”


Katharine knows that the cosmetics industry is very loosely regulated and many companies are putting harmful ingredients into their products. In trying to be as healthy as possible, she wanted to know that the products she was putting on her skin were as pure as the foods she was eating. So she was searching for pure skincare solutions that really work and it was with that thought that the Kahina-Giving Beauty first sprang to life.


Edie Goldstein Tolchin, “The Sourcing Lady,”(SM) is the owner of EGT Global Trading in Florida, NY (www.egtglobaltrading.com), author of Sourcing Smarts: Keeping it Simple with China Sourcing and Manufacturing, and is a licensed US Customs Broker with over 35 years of international trade experience.

See Katherine L’Heureux on video discussing her business and her life.

Here is where you can read more about her.

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