Our Friday muse: Katey Mandy, founder of RAAIE Skincare

28 April 2022
By Nicole Saunders

Katey Mandy, founder of the covetable botanical-based skincare brand RAAIE, talks inspiration and skincare advice, plus shares a few of her favourites things with Fashion Quarterly.

RAAIE founder, Katey Mandy. Images: supplied.

Suppose you’ve got a nose for hunting the hippest new skincare offerings. In that case, there’s every chance you’ve spied Katey Mandy’s effortlessly cool botanical-based skincare brand, RAAIE, on your Instagram feed. In fact, it’s been near impossible not to take notice of RAAIE. In an overwhelming sea of skincare jars and bottles, with their uniform hard lines and little to tell them apart, the organic silhouettes of RAAIE’s first two products offer something new; something to get excited about for the jaded beauty buff.

And while the breathtaking—and Instagrammable–packaging is enough to pique anyone’s interest, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Inspired by her love of nature, Mandy has turned to the unique biodiversity of Aotearoa to power Morning Dew Vitamin C Serum and Yellow Moonbeam Evening Elixir. “My love for botanicals goes right back to my childhood,” explains Mandy. “I spent many weekends helping dad re-wild the family farm in Northland. We tried to restore the natural ecosystem and attract native wildlife back to the area by planting native trees such as Mamaku, Nikau, Kānuka  and Rewarewa.”

In her mid-20s, as many of us do, Mandy hopped on a plane and headed abroad. She spent the next 11 years in London, New York, and Los Angeles working in fashion and beauty marketing for some of the world’s most recognised names. It was her mum’s cancer diagnosis that saw her return home. “When Mum passed away, I felt like something had changed in me. I didn’t want to return to LA; I wanted to stay in New Zealand and find a new direction.”

During a moment of reflection, while surrounded by the native flora she had planted as a child, Mandy’s new path became clear. “Aotearoa is a treasure trove of plants and sea botanicals that are some of the most bioactive rich in the world,” Mandy tells Fashion Quarterly. “That was when I decided to build my brand inspired by these amazingly powerful plants.”

Rather than perplexing us all with endless numbers of serums and lotions, Mandy has kept her initial RAAIE offering succinct. “We chose to launch with AM/ PM treatment serums because serums are the products in your skincare routine that deliver the best results,” explains Mandy. The two serums deliver high concentrations of active ingredients right where they are needed. Both are ideal for targetting an array of specific skin concerns – wrinkles, redness, pigmentation and lacklustre skin.

Botanical ingredients include the likes of antioxidant-rich New Zealand blackcurrants, Sauvignon Blanc Grapeseed, Mamaku Black Fern, and Kānuka . “We harness the power of New Zealand botanicals (that have learnt to survive and thrive in our harsh UV environment) and combine them with the latest developments in cosmeceutical science,” Mandy says. “It’s this balance of nature and science that sets us apart because we believe they both have a part to play in achieving the best skin.”

My first memory of skincare is…

Being slathered by my mother with thick SPF. I have very pale skin that loves to burn so she was always panicking about me going out into the sun. It was only when I moved to Europe that I realised the sun is not as harsh in other parts of the world.

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The best skincare advice I’ve ever received…

Stay out of the sun! It causes 80% of visible ageing. But this is also tricky advice because what is life without the warmth of the sun on your face? We can’t live our lives in the shadows. So my version of that advice is to enjoy the sun but protect yourself. Wear a hat, use SPF and get yourself some punchy antioxidants.

My own beauty routine involves…

I’m not into a 10 step routine or anything like that. In the morning I use the Morning Dew Vitamin C Serum, a simple moisturiser and our new sunscreen which I am trialling and loving. At night I cleanse and then use the Yellow Moonbeam Retinal Elixir. As a final step, I like to lock it all in with a facial oil or rich ceramide moisturiser. Once a week I do a glycolic peel as well to resurface the skin.

 A book that changed my life is…

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. It’s a beautiful story of intertwining lives, cruelty, corruption, and the enduring survival of the human spirit, set against the backdrop of India in the 1970s. I read it while travelling through Laos and lost it somewhere along the way. I hope it affected whoever found it as much as it affected me.

My current podcast recommendation…

Probably a hangover from my time living in the US but I love listening to The Daily by the New York Times. It’s 20-minute episodes that delve a bit deeper into important subjects, which feels like a refreshing break from the clickbait headlines we are now used to. 

If I had to listen to one musician for the rest of my life it would be…

I mean, the rest of my life? I just can’t go past Fleetwood Mac – something for every mood.

Three items I would take to a desert island…

Ice, Vodka and Vermouth. Because a girl needs a martini in a situation like that.

Last TV show I binged…

Euphoria, obviously. But also a lesser-known one called Top Boy, that plays out in my old neighbourhood in London. It is a gritty slice of life in East London that Drake himself re-commissioned when it didn’t get another season.  

 My favourite place to dine…

Pici in St Kevins Arcade. They serve up insanely good pasta and delicious biodynamic wines. 

Best coffee spot…

Honestly, I love my AeroPress coffee at home. But I always get the beans from Kokako Beans from the Postal Service cafe in Grey Lynn. They serve up the sweetest, roundest coffee in town. 

Best place for a cocktail…

Annabel’s in Three Lamps, especially on a cold winter’s evening. Feels like you’ve been transported to a little wine bar in Europe (and they do a great negroni).

 The item at the top of my wish list…

I have my eye on the Gold Cryo Facial Set by Angela Caglia for its calming, de-puffing, and skin-sculpting effect.

Inside my handbag you will find…

The kitchen sink. I have two small children so it really is a veritable Mary Poppins magical handbag. Honestly, ask me for anything? Plasters, snacks, a stapler, I’ve got you. Maybe I need a smaller bag.

This season I’m splurging on…

The small olive Bottega Veneta Intrecciato leather bag. To solve the problem above. And another Maggie Marilyn suit. I just can’t get enough of those tailored pastels. 

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