Petal Long Set


Nicola Connolly is the brains behind Nunaïa, the multi-award-winning certified organic and vegan skincare brand.

She spent more than a decade working as a sustainability consultant for international development agencies and NGOs with traditional communities in the Amazon rainforest, Galapagos Islands and Andes Mountains of Peru and Ecuador, all the while studying plants and herbalism with traditional healers before launching her ‘soil to skin’ skincare range whose raw ingredients and manufacturing process can be traced back through three simple production points starting in Peru and ending in Lough Derg, Co Tipperary, for production.

Kettle on for her journey from corporate drone to social entrepreneur.

Many of us go on holiday and dream about quitting our jobs, to stay there permanently. But you actually did it – you went to the Galapagos Islands on vacation for a week, and stayed in South America for 12 years. What was the catalyst for such a huge life change?

I guess a feeling of wanting something more from my life. I was in a corporate job and my soul was calling for something with more purpose and meaning for me personally. So, I listened to the call and started searching for what was right for me.

Strongest lessons learned while working with international aid agencies among indigenous communities?

Supporting women is one of the best ways to support sustainable development. Time and time again I saw how empowering women to earn a fair living and gain financial independence led to their children gaining access to education and healthcare and improving the standard of living for all those within their communities.

Sustainability and women’s physical and mental healthcare have really come into sharp focus, after decades of neglect. Your brand combines the two, in a way.


Tribal Flower Robe


How has holistic skincare evolved since you first launched Nunaia in 2018?

We are now talking, listening, and starting to look after our own needs, which is amazing. I noticed on every trip home how stressed and burnt out my friends and sisters were and this really is why I started Nunaia – to help other women carve out little moments of connection in their day. I was lucky to be gifted with ancestral wisdom from these communities that made a huge difference to my own well-being. I’m a big believer in making small changes in our day can have a big impact. One of these is super-powering your skincare routine into a ritual, which is such a simple act of self-love that has far reaching benefits not just for your skin health but also for bringing a greater sense of balance.

The skincare market is crowded and hugely competitive. Do you ever have moments of self-doubt?

Absolutely. We’re a small Irish brand competing with the big guys on an international stage, so I definitely have my wobbly days. However, I’ve this great technique when things get too much, where I sit out in nature, do some breathing exercises and remind myself of why we do what we do at Nunaia – our purpose. I don’t aspire to compete with L’Oreal but I do want to craft beautiful regenerative skincare rituals that nurture skin and soul. This brings me right back into my own lane and calms the anxiety.

Skincare aside, what are your favourite non-negotiable daily rituals?

Time in nature. As much as possible I’m outdoors and away from cities. This is how I stay vitalised and grounded.

How do you balance work with wellness?

Ah the eternal dilemma… Things are often very busy, so I’ve built in some systems to make sure I’m taking time to restore and relax. Ive been working with the wisdom of my menstrual cycle for the past 15 years, so I block off time every month to retreat from the world and restore for a few hours or a few days, depending on how busy things are. I also try to organise my diary to have meetings, events etc, mid-cycle when my energy is at its peak. I find building my month in this way allows me to manage my energy, rest when needed, and perform when I’m at my peak. Its been revolutionary!


Nomad Housecoat


What books are on your bedside table?

Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Cures of Ireland by Cecily Gilligan and Listen to the Land Speak by Manchán Magan.

Nunaïa means soul tribe. But what about soul food… what’s your favourite weekend brunch dish?

My partner is French and a fabulous cook, so food is a big part of our life. My favourite brunch dish are his home-made arepas filled with his signature scrambled eggs, mature local sheep’s cheese and green salad with an Oriental dressing.

Your products smell incredible. What is your strongest fragrance memory from childhood?

The gorgeous coconut smell from the gorse bushes at the beach in Wexford.

If you could teleport yourself anywhere in the world tomorrow, to where would it be?

Sunset at 4,000m up the Andes Mountains in Peru to the top of a mountain where you can see across three valleys. It’s the place that reminds me how small we and our worries are in the bigger scheme of things. I travel there at least once a week in my mind!



In contrast, imagine a much-anticipated Friday night on your own. Your Moon + Mellow PJs are on, and you have the TV and couch entirely to yourself. What is your go-to feel-good film, snack and refreshment?
My favourite Friday nights are having a decadent bath to wash away the week and putting on a freshly ironed pair of Moon & mellow PJs. Theres something so luxurious about good pyjamas which I only discovered when I started wearing Moon & Mellow! Then a cup of hot chocolate in front of the fire with a good book is my Friday night dream.

Who would be your top three celebrity pyjama party guests, and what would your playlist involve?
The storyteller [and Jungian psychoanalyst] Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Amma [the Indian Hindu spiritual leader best known as “The Hugging Saint”] – and Gwen Stefani to spice things up! Definitely salsa, bachata and merengue on the playlist.

Non-pervy outro: What will you be wearing when you slip between the sheets later?
The housecoat is a firm new favourite. Im fond of heading out into the garden first thing with a cup of tea, and the housecoat is warm enough that I can do this even in the colder months.

Moon and Mellow Housecoat