Interview With Ojon

The Est\u00E9e Lauder Companies

Denis Simioni went on a quest to Central America to discover Ojon oil, nature's golden elixer

Interview With Ojon Founder Denis Simioni

ELC

Ojon Video
What is the story behind Ojon?
A relative from Central America came to visit and left behind a baby food jar of brown oil. They called it a native remedy for damaged hair and skin and I didn’t think much about it at the time.
 
For two years the jar sat untouched on a cluttered shelf.  One day I was curious about and decided to try it. The results were incredible.  I had worked in the beauty industry for 15 years at the time and I knew right away that this was something unique.  I tracked down as much information as possible about the mysterious golden elixir.  It turns out the jar was purchased in Central America.  Derived from the nut of the Ojon tree, the oil is unique to the rainforest of the Mosquitia region of northeastern Honduras.
 
Before long, I was on a plane to Central America. I set out to find the elixir, but didn’t know where to start. After a five-hour ride in a run-down single propeller plane I ended up on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. I hiked for two hours before running into a group from MOPAWI, a local non-profit group. 
 
With more specific directions, I ended up on a five-hour boat ride into the rainforest.
 
It was like something out of National Geographic or an Indiana Jones movie. The communities live just like they did 500 years ago. The land was pristine and unspoiled.
 
When we came across the Ojon oil producers I knew it was them right away. They all had remarkably healthy hair.
 
I spent the next few years building a relationship with MOPAWI and the local producers while testing various versions of what would ultimately become our first product - Restorative Hair Treatment. 
 
The launch of Restorative Hair Treatment was even bigger than we imagined, and we’ve created a collection of products that cater to every hair type and concern.  Every treatment-based product in the line contains Ojon oil – what we call “nature’s golden elixir.” Hair damage is a problem for most people and this collection fills a universal need for treatment-based styling solutions.
 
How do you ensure performance?
The ingredients we’ve discovered in the rainforest are combined with effective delivery systems and technologies available to create efficacious hair products that produce results. 
 
Ojon Restorative Hair Treatment contains our highest concentration of Ojon oil, and clinical tests have shown a 52 percent improvement in the condition of very dry, damaged hair after just one 20-minute application, and a 64 percent improvement when left on hair overnight. 
 
How do you see the Ojon brand evolving?
We’re continually looking for remarkable ingredients from around the world.  I see Ojon evolving into the go-to brand for rare and unique beauty rituals – this is just the beginning.
 
How do you ensure sustainable harvesting?
From a production standpoint, we’re extremely proud of our commitment to sustainable harvesting.  The process for Ojon Oil is done entirely by hand.  The Ojon tree grows wild and every season it bears new fruit. 
 
After working closely with the Rainforest Alliance for more than two years, our Honduran producers have also earned Forest Stewardship Council Certification.   More than 76,000 hectares in the Mosquitia region are now certified for sustainable forest management.  The certification will help enhance the social, ecological and economic sustainability for communities in La Mosquitia.  It will also protect the delicate traditional harvesting process of Ojon’s iconic golden elixir.
 
What’s the best piece of hair care advice you can give?
Don’t overindulge in chemical treatments or heat styling.  Healthy hair is always beautiful.  Also, use a deep conditioning treatment at least once a week.  You can transform your hair with the right products.
 
And the best piece of advice in general?
Don’t be afraid to take risks.  It was scary at first to put everything I had physically, emotionally and financially into this project.  For many reasons, I’m so happy I did.
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