Q & A with Owner/Operator Athena Hewett

Athena is the owner of a botanical skin care brand called Monastery Made based in San Francisco. I took notice of her a few years ago when a make up artist used her Gold oil on me before a shoot; it felt amazing. Come to find out she is wildly creative and on a mission for sustainability, kindred to Angelina here at Beklina. So naturally she became a muse of ours and was kind enough to send us some of her wares to play with here in the studio. 

Alexis: What was your first job ever?

Athena: Ironically my first job ever was working as a receptionist at a small spa. I was 16 and I actually didn't like the job at all. The owner played the same CD over and over.

What do you like to collect?

I used to love to collect rare oils, absolutes, tinctures and old perfume bottles. I still do but not at the level that I used to, maybe it's because there is almost nothing that I don't already have at this point. These days I feel like I could scavenge for vintage clothing for my two year old all day long. 

Where did you grow up, does that inspire your work in any way now?

I grew up in the Central Valley of California on a farm. It did inspire me but maybe not in the way most would think. Farm life is never ending, back breaking, hard work. I've watched my parents work extremely hard my entire life and when I feel sorry for myself about how hard I work, I think of them and what they were doing at my age. It's a self motivator.

Did you always know that you were going to do something in skin care or did something shift for you at some point?

I actually did. I was always making potions and inspecting the skin of my family members as a kid. After high school my parents wanted me to go to a university like all parents do but I had zero interest. I compromised with them and instead applied to art school. At the last minute, after a long talk, I convinced them to allow me to go to beauty school instead. My parents had trust in me and that is an amazing thing.

What kinds of things do you gather inspiration from?    

When it comes to making skincare I usually gather inspiration from a place or a moment. I'll smell something unique and spend time figuring out exactly what it was and try to recreate it to the best of my memory. I'd say that I'm most inspired when camping and living under the stars for a few nights. I remember once I smelled something while camping on a beach and took rigorous notes for days after. Even though I was having a wonderful time away, I actually couldn't wait to get home to try and make the recipe I had been dreaming of.

You're a mother, a partner, a business owner, a master of your craft, needless to say you wear many hats in this life, is there a particular mantra that gets you through tough moments of trying to balance it all?

My husband said something to me a while back and it stuck with me. He said "What's the point in trying to go fast? We're doing exactly what we want to be doing, so maybe we should slow down." It was so beautiful and true. Just enjoy every minute. These are the good ole days.

What are  you currently intrigued with? It can be a song, a style, an artist....anything really.

We are in the midst of building a new Monastery location and want to restore an older style to the space. We're replacing new fixtures and elements with old. I've been paying a lot of attention to chipping plasters and patinas and have been enjoying hunting for fun things like old sinks etc. We're pulling inspiration from the simple and old interiors of the Mediterranean region, an area that my mom is from and is close to my heart. 

After a bit of playing and testing oils, my favorite is the Neroli black for its scent and feel. Angelina loved the Lapiz body oil. "The scent is so yummy, and like nothing I've ever smelled before. Totally unique. It's amazing!"

Keep a lookout for Athena's new San Francisco space, we're certain that it will be nothing short of spectacular.