O u r S p o t l i g h t i s o n :
- This Vendor -
Danna Norek - 'Aura Sensory'
Q & A :
Welcome to the Personality Spotlight, Danna! I've really
enjoyed reading your articles on the Natural News website and
I'm so happy that I found your beautiful all-natural beauty product line, Aura
Sensory. Please tell us about yourself and your background.
Thank you, I love hearing from people who have read or learned from my Natural News articles! I live in a semi-rural part of Ohio about an hour away from Cleveland, the home of the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame and 10 minutes from Akron, the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
I have been married to my wonderful husband Jason for just over two years and we have two cats that we spoil as if they were our children. One is a male Maine Coon named Riley which is the most awesome and endlessly playful breed of cat in the world, and our female Mika is part Siamese and a very sensitive love bug who loves to please people.
I attended a two year school out of high school and graduated with an Associate degree in Business and Paralegal Studies. While this paid the bills (and still does today), it never allowed me to utilize my creative or entrepreneurial spirit, which I’d always had bubbling beneath the surface.
Although I never considered myself a very artsy or creative person, I found that I was drawn to cooking and concocting flavorful and interesting recipes, creating holiday decorations, and experimenting with makeup, hair and beauty products like it was a second job.
I was so interested in natural beauty and body care that I eventually created my own website, where for years I reviewed products, gave tips, wrote articles and shared my “expertise” with the online community all while making a little money on the side from advertisers.
I always had an affinity for writing as well, and the internet created the perfect opportunity for me to use it as a creative outlet both for my writing and my own hobby. It never felt like “work” because I was getting to enjoy my hobby of makeup and beauty product experimentation, and even started dabbling in creating some of my own makeup.
Today my hobbies really overlap with my entrepreneurial goals. I consider making my products a hobby since I genuinely enjoy figuring out new recipes and how to get the textures and consistencies just right, or how to get a pleasant scent by mixing various essential oils. Every successful formulation feels like a small victory and a step in the right direction toward the fulfillment of my long term goals.
I love to read a good book when
I have spare time to relax. Some of my recent favorites have
been “Ape House” by Sara Gruen, “Hunger Games” by Suzanne
Collins and “11/22/63” by Stephen King. I’m also an avid fan
of cinema. My husband and I love anything by Quentin Tarantino
and enjoy watching anything in the comedy, thriller, mystery,
horror, drama or documentary genre.
Another pastime I consider a hobby is yard work. Summer is one of my favorite times here in Ohio. Often times my husband and I are out in our yard, planting trees, tending to our flower beds or garden, and generally enjoying the fresh air and longer summer days on the weekend.
What were your influences when it came to going a more natural
way with your life?
However, it didn’t really “sink in” until about four years ago when I started reading a lot of literature on parabens, aluminum, petrochemicals, synthetic scents and other chemicals that were found in alarming abundance in our body care products. In order to write a lot of the informational pieces I wrote, I needed to read a lot of informative literature both online and in books and this really opened my eyes to a lot of the toxins we unknowingly put on our body.
I also had a beloved Aunt who passed away from breast cancer several years ago, so I was always keen on reading any new research about food, environment, and body or personal care product connections to breast cancer. I started to really read the ingredient list on a lot of the products I had been buying and using on my body and found them literally brimming with ingredients that were questionable.
Are there certain books and/or classes that you'd recommend
for all-natural beauty care, business, or personal growth that
have helped you on your personal path to starting and running
Another classic motivational book is Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich”. The title implies that it is simply about money and wealth, but really it is about achieving happiness and feeling fulfilled in life. It is inspiring because it shows how tenacity and the willingness to be “uncomfortable” and totally out of your element for a while pays off in spades.
As far as books I’ve found to be most helpful in my personal study of product formulation and development as well as education on ingredients, I have a few to share there as well. The first is “Aromatherapy, A Complete Guide to the Healing Art” by Kathi Keville and Mindy Green. This has some great basic and intermediate information on essential oils, their history, their healing properties, and their multiple uses for body care and aromatherapy.
Two more books provided not only entertaining anecdotes and back stories, but also educational information on the healing power of herbs and plant oils. Those books are “Spontaneous Healing” by Dr. Andrew Weil and “The Scent Trail” by Celia Lyttelton which I read after hearing her on a radio interview that intrigued me.
Another great book to have around as a quick reference guide to natural healing and body care is “The Green Pharmacy” by James A. Duke Ph.D. Although it is focused on herbal remedies, it also has some great topical skin care suggestions.
For spiritual guidance and self help on a personal level, I have turned to the books and teachings of Deepak Chopra time and time again. I find that they help me put everything in perspective, and reprioritize things in my life that may have been thrown out of kilter due to life events.
Please tell us about your company Aura Sensory, and why you decided to open it.
I made the decision to open Aura Sensory in April of 2011. I knew that I was ready to actually try to create my own product line and I felt that I knew what people wanted who were looking for high quality, effective yet all natural products. I partly did this because I personally found it was a struggle to find high quality and truly all natural products on store shelves.
I felt I might be able to deliver better, more wholesome and high quality products than what was currently available by offering them online. This would allow a business model of making small batches and delivering fresher products that could be made without chemicals and preservatives because they were more of a “made to order” type of item that didn’t need to have an indefinite shelf life.
I actually felt so strongly about it that I went about trying to trademark the name before I even had a full concept of what it would be. I didn’t even have a website set up or anything at that point. I knew I loved the name because to me it represented a person’s aura, or their being. It represented the organic smells that fill the air that naturally and instinctively smell good, and the sensory experience that real, natural smells give us. I had a few core products in mind, and I knew that any of my skincare or body care products would be scented only with natural plant oils, and would be as natural and pure as possible.
I spend a lot of time researching my supplier’s products. It took me a very long time simply to get the right ingredients because there are so many considerations. I learned by trial and error, and quite a lot of it. Even the packaging takes a lot of consideration because you need to find the right price, the right look and the right materials.
When I formulated my all natural deodorant, for example, I started off experimenting with regular baking soda. Upon further research, I discovered that some baking soda can have aluminum particles in it, the very thing I was avoiding with my natural deodorant! So I found a brand one that was specifically aluminum free.
Little things like that cropped up along the way, and even if it was a tiny chance that one of the ingredients contained questionable components, I would find a healthier alternative and consider it a learning experience. I was determined not to put any propylene glycol (a petroleum derivative) in any of my products which is hard because so many bases contain this as cheap wetting agent.
However I found a totally natural alternative to this ingredient in good old fashioned vegetable glycerin. I experimented a LOT with various concentrations of this and it can be tricky to work with. It dries out faster than propylene glycol, but it is safer and definitely worth it once you figure out how to work with it.
When researching a good natural lotion base, it took me a long time to find one that did not contain any harmful chemical preservatives and no petroleum by-products. I finally found one though and am happy with its performance as well as the ingredients that go into it. I am always willing to pay more for ingredients that make me feel really good about the end product I am offering the customer.
Which products are your best-sellers and which are your
My husband even loves the deodorant, as he always used to complain about the previous brands I bought not keeping him smelling good all day and he says with mine he never worries about smelling. He was my guinea pig throughout the multiple formulations early on for this product and for that I’ll be eternally grateful.
My second favorite product and incidentally the second best seller is the Aura Sensory Natural Acne Soap. I’ve always had oily skin, and I struggled with acne when I was a teen. I’m 37 years old now and still have very oily skin. I love the soap because it really deep cleans without drying, reddening or irritating my skin. It leaves my face feeling smooth, never tight or dry, and it works just as well as many high end acne cleansers I used when I was younger, but it’s natural. I also love the smell of lemongrass every time I use it, which dominates the scent due to its strong aromatic qualities.
The Aura Sensory Natural Lip Balm is popular as well, and I’m happy to say even created a mini-craze at my husband’s job when he brought samples in for his coworkers to try.
As I mentioned before, you are also a wonderful writer. Please
tell us about your background when it comes to being a writer.
I’ve never written a book, but that has been another dream of mine and remains on my “bucket list”. I’ve actually written down a few ideas for fiction novels, but have just never had the time to follow through on any of them. I read a lot and I suppose that reading also helps make you a better writer. I usually write about things that capture my attention and hold a personal interest as well, such as news in alternative or natural health and beauty, medical breakthroughs and even economic or finance news that is interesting (and is so important in this uncertain economic environment).
This next question is one that we all enjoy, because don't we
all love a day to ourselves? If you could have a day all to
yourself where you could have a 'spa day', what would it look
Then I would sit in a hot rock sauna and read a great book, listening to low classical or spa music. Horseback riding would definitely be on the agenda, preferably in a majestic wooded area with winding trails and smells of earth, pine and various other woodland flora.
After all of this alone time, I would then love to be joined
by my best friend in the world, my sister, for a rejuvenating
yoga session. We would then gather with my husband for a late
dinner including a great bottle of red wine, low lighting and
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