Mordechai Alvow is happy when you’re happy.
The hairstylist has been enticed by beauty supply and the sensory experience of lotions and potions since childhood, but felt disillusioned, as an adult, when confronted with unrecognizable, synthetic ingredients in the available haircare products. When he started having allergic reactions, he knew he had to do something or his career would be over.
That’s when Alvow discovered his calling: teaching his clients (at his salon at Equinox Club in New York and beyond) about healthy haircare. He began working with an herbalist and green laboratories and soon launched his botanically-based, restorative haircare line, Yarok.
Here, the entrepreneur shares his philosophy on how helping others is the root of our own joy:
Live The Process: What inspired you to found your own botanically-based haircare line, Yarok, and dedicate a percentage of proceeds to charity?
Mordechai Alvow: As a child, I was always drawn to apothecaries—they were my candy stores. I remember being so fascinated by the smells and bottles of the cosmetics. Later on, when I got into hair, I became interested in knowing more about the ingredients inside these products, but I couldn’t, as they had synthetic names with which I was unfamiliar. After years of using conventional synthetic products, I started to develop severe allergic reactions to everything that my hands touched. It was so bad that I considered not doing hair at all.
Shortly after I started turning my lifestyle all around by studying Kabbalah and overall wellness, eating organic foods and working out more. I felt great and started considering that perhaps this was actually my calling, to inspire others in my industry and introduce clients to healthier ways of looking good.
Opening a salon at the Equinox Club in New York helped me bring out the message. For the first time, I introduced hair and scalp treatments made of organic, all natural and botanically-based ingredients to my clients, using blends of nuts and essential oils. The feedback was incredible, which made me secure about the path I was taking. From there, my research started to happen organically, as well. I have ordered many books and ingredients that ended up on my kitchen counter and, later, on my friends’ hair and skin.
Once I was convinced that I knew what I was doing—learned which herbs, plants and oils were best with help of an herbalist—I commissioned a few labs to produce my products, and Yarok was born.
I also wanted to give back to the Universe and the Pachamama Alliance has a direct, great mission to help maintain nature and help indigenous peoples.
LTP: How is choosing natural products important in a larger, social sense?
MA: I believe that the founders behind natural products have often experienced some darkness in their pasts and they choose to tell a story and inspire others. It is so much easier to come up with a line of chemical-based products, as they’re less expensive and have a longer shelf life, but choosing the hard way can make a positive influence on all humanity. Yes, money is important, but you have to think about how others could benefit from your work.
LTP: What are the personal advantages of using organic hair color over synthetic formulas?
MA: There’s a big difference, as everything enters the bloodstream through the scalp (the biggest live organ of the body). I think you would want to know that everything you’ll be using on your scalp is safe. The other benefits are the scent and the quality of the hair. The results you get when using a natural-based hair color is less brittle and more lustrous. For both the client and the stylist (we smell everything for at least eight hours a day), it is the only way to keep what you have looking better.
LTP: If you had to choose just one, which of your products is your personal favorite?
MA: I enjoy Feed Your Shine. It is a formula that consists of coconut oil and a combination of essential oils like Roman chamomile, Atlas cedarwood, Clary sage and petitgrain. It has a smell that’s very elevating, so, if you use it in the morning right after your shower, it will make your hair super soft, shiny and young looking.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
MA: Besides the obvious things we know most of us like (a baby’s laugh, health, family, friends and wealth), for me, I feel very happy once I have made someone else happy and also when I know that I don’t need physical things to make me feel happy. Then, I know I am on the right path.
LTP: What does it mean to you to "Live The Process" and how do you do that every day?
MA: That is super hard. I think everyone that has his or her own company feels this natural instinct that every day is a new day and that is the art of living in the now. At times when I do experience doubt, something amazing comes my way and reminds me to believe in everything I do.
Find more information on Yarok here. Find more information on the Pachamama Alliance here.
Editor's Note: other interviews you might enjoy include A Moment With Sonya Dakar, A Moment With Saskia Miller and A Moment With Dr. Pratima Raichur.