At EarthHero, we work hard to find some of the best brands out there. And Tierra & Lava is no exception! This skincare company combines ethically and locally sourced ingredients with centuries-old Mayan healing wisdom to create their modern and holistic products. Join us below as we do a deep dive into the company, and interview the founder, Lucy Ashman!
Let’s meet Lucy Ashman: founder of Tierra & Lava. After leaving her childhood home of Belize to study eco-tourism abroad, Ashman felt the call to return to Central America. We wanted to enrich the place she called home in a sustainable and ethical way – that integrated the culture and ancient Mayan wisdom that echoes across the region. She settled in Antigua, Guatemala, and began an organic mountainside garden with a vista overlooking the land. She began pairing natural ingredients from her garden with centuries-old Mayan traditions to create holistic skincare products – which she would share with her community. It grew quickly, and she began making products for boutique hotels in the area. When she isn’t able to grow her own ingredients, she develops relationships with local farmers and producers who carry on the legacy of disappearing culture practices.
Q: What inspired you to create Tierra & Lava?
A: A serendipitous coming together of my love of ancient cultures and traditions, mysticism and magic, holistic self-care inside and out, nature, creativity and travel. With COVID 19 it has been hard to travel, visit suppliers and scout out new ingredients — but just last weekend I was able to visit the highlands of Guatemala to source more volcanic sulfur for our Armpit Detox. Soaking in the natural thermal pools in this rural area where the sulfur comes from was a highlight. It reminded me how much joy I get from the experience of discovery. I grew up in Belize and now live in Guatemala — Mesoamerica has the most incredible biodiversity, my inspiration for Tierra & Lava is to share these special luxurious local ingredients with the world.
Q: What is your favorite item in the Tierra & Lava product collection?
A: I feel particularly proud of our natural deodorants. I tried many over the years and they did not work for me. I used to have a real armpit phobia and was put-off by the whole idea but I made it my challenge to make one that REALLY works. After extensive research I concluded that a transition product that would cleanse armpits was an essential first step which led me to create our Armpit Detox Mask. I was also surrounded by ingredients to try that had the right potent antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties. One key ingredient I love that is perfectly unisex is Copal, a tree resin used in Mayan purification rituals as well many local medicinal uses. The Armpit Detox was a novel experience the first time I tried it! It feels good to give your armpits the care and attention you would give your face – and as the cherry on the ice-cream -it gives it a special something that makes a difference!
Q: What are some of the main goals of Tierra & Lava, both in your community, and in the sustainability space?
A: Staying true to our values while creating positive, powerful social, economic and environmental impact for Central America will always be our biggest priority. Many people have advised us to try to make things cheaper. While many consumers have come to expect low prices, I think more people are waking up to the real price of these inexpensive ways of manufacturing – health and environmental problems. We will always produce quality products in sustainably packaging. Our products are simply plants and minerals – no fillers. Every year we get more stringent on what we can do to strive for Zero Waste. We believe that conscious consumers are growing and we are here to serve them.
Q: What is the relationship between Tierra & Lava and the farmers and individuals involved with the ingredients that go into your products?
A: It is vitally important to us that our sourcing is not only transparent, but also that we can share the stories about the livelihoods of our small family farms with the world helping the beautiful traditions of our Mayan region live on. Conscious consumers want more information and awareness about where our ingredients come from — who produces or processes them and what is culturally special about the ingredient or process it goes through.
We grow 80% of our botanicals in our organic garden right next to our workshop. What we can’t easily grow ourselves we buy from 65 small local family farms from 25 different communities These farmers are the soul of Tiera & Lava. I cherish the relationships we have formed. Our honey and beeswax come from our neighbor Don Eduardo. We are helping him double his beehives this year to be able to keep up with our demand, increase his income and increase the bee population!
Don Max makes sacred Mayan Black Salt in the Guatemalan Highlands. The community used to be a thriving spa destination many years ago and the Modern Maya still use black salt for numerous medicinal and culinary purposes. The salt is black because of the volcanic soil and actually has more minerals than regular white salt. The process of making the salt is very labor intensive so that many of the younger generations in the area are not interested, but if we sell our products in the quantity we intend to, we imagine we can reinvigorate the region in a real way.
Guatemala’s natural resources are truly awesome and we look forward to the real social and economic impact we can create as we grow.
Q: How does Tierra & Lava work towards zero waste?
A: Buying environmentally friendly packaging is not always accessible locally, so we aim to partner with other natural businesses and environmental groups to create consumer demand for local recyclable and reusable packaging options. We see trends that people want to refill at home and buy in bulk so we are planning more options to make this feasible and economical for our customers.
Q: How do you live sustainably in your personal life?
A: My family is mostly vegan and we have been for a long time now – for both environmental and health reasons. We strive to produce zero garbage in our daily lives by purchasing products with less packaging and buying local. We re-purpose, reuse and recycle everything else. So we have nothing to give the garbage collectors! We stuff plastic bottles with the small plastic packaging we are unable to avoid and use them as garden borders. Our grey water is used by our garden where we are fortunate to have space to grow and consume some of our own vegetables, fruit and herbs such as avocados, peaches, berries, oranges, bananas, sweet potatoes and a wide variety of flowers. We have a loveable loo and humane compost system. We have solar-powered water heating – for a while it was just our own DIY garden hoses on our roof! – luckily, we live in the “land of eternal spring”!
Q: If there is one thing you could say to someone beginning their sustainability journey, what would it be?
A: Every new change is a step in the right direction. Perhaps keep one thing which brings you joy and don’t be eco-shamed by it. One thing I can’t give up is my imported soy and almond milk. I just can’t find a satisfactory local alternative and if I made it myself, I would still be using imported almonds as they do not grow locally… Do the best you can with your current environment and keep advocating for better options.
Long story short: if you’re looking for zero waste, natural, holistic skincare that benefits your skin, and the lives of the farmers who grow the ingredients, and local communities overall – Tierra & Lava is for you. With 80% of their ingredients coming from Lucy’s organic mountainside garden, and the rest from 25 local communities and 65 farming families, these products work to keep local and traditional practices alive… while making high-quality modern products you’ll love.
Explore all Tierra & Lava products here!