Being one of the most nutrient-dense plants in the world, Moringa is considered a superfood. When Bangkok-born Marika Nanni came across the unique ingredient, she immediately experienced its benefits. By 2019, she co-founded Moringa Project Thailand, a female-led family-run business that uses the power of Moringa. From facial oils to serums, the company takes a holistic approach to skincare and has already cultivated a strong fan base. It’s also stocked in some of the nation’s top hotels and retreats. We chat with the co-founder, Marika Nanni, on her journey, the healing powers of Moringa and her personal skincare routine.
1) Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how The Moringa Project began?
I am half Thai/half Italian and was born in Bangkok. I left when I was twelve growing up in Italy, Hong Kong and the UK. Later, I spent most of my career in the fashion industry in London and Hong Kong. I worked with different lifestyle and luxury brands and always wanted to establish my own brand. Then, I took some time off after my son was born and that was when I first discovered the superfood, Moringa.
It was really by chance as a relative in the US had asked us to find Moringa Oil in Thailand to treat eczema. We did, and it worked wonders when lots of other medicines didn’t – so as a family, we all became obsessed with it! After lots of research, we discovered that Moringa is one of the most nutrient-dense plants in the world, in fact, it’s called the “miracle tree” because of its rich content of vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and minerals.
However, its benefits were relatively unknown to people around us. That’s when we decided to launch a brand that would deliver Moringa’s rich health and wellness benefits to the world. We started with the creation of a 100% cold-pressed Moringa seed oil. This became the single key ingredient at the core of our skincare range. We have now developed this into wellness products like the Moringa Extract Capsules.
Moringa Leaf Extract can help to reduce inflammation in the body, boost your immune system, and increase energy levels and help the digestive system. When applied on skin and hair, Moringa is rich in antioxidants that help to protect the skin from environmental stressors that cause ageing, and fatty acids that nourish and replenish the skin for brighter, softer skin and antiseptic properties that help to soothe inflamed skin, acne and eczema. I like to call it the ‘miracle oil’ as I pretty much use it for everything including my kids!
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2) What is the ethos and mission behind the brand?
The mission behind Moringa Project is to spread the love for Moringa through education and effective products. We believe that everyone should be able to reap the benefits of this miracle tree. So we make it readily accessible and simple to use, whether it be in skincare for topical use or in tea or powder form to ingest. It is the single key ingredient to making people feel good inside and out. We are a ‘Farm to Face’ business. So we grow our own Moringa trees on our farm in Hua Hin and support a community of farmers by teaching them to grow Moringa.
By controlling the whole process from growing and harvesting to cold-pressing the seeds we can ensure the highest quality oil is used in our products. We are committed to farming organically and sustainably, investing in improving the environment around us, and the by-product is returned to the land or used in new products. Our packaging is eco-friendly in order to reduce our environmental impact.
I’m proud that we are now stocked in many leading hotels and spas like Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary, Chiva Som, Anantara Layan and Chiangmai, Four Seasons Koh Samui, The Ritz Carlton Samui Koh Samui, Como Point Yamu, The Barai, and Absolute Sanctuary, amongst others.
3) As a mother how has your approach to skincare products changed?
I did a total household clean-out of chemicals and toxins after I found out I was pregnant, including throwing out most of my skincare products and switching to only natural products. Moringa oil was a lifesaver as I used it on my face, hair and belly throughout my second pregnancy. Now, I don’t have much time with two small children so my skincare routine is really quick with only a few products that I know work for me.
4) What are your favourite ways to use your Moringa products?
My skincare routine has really simplified. Many of my customers tell me the same thing, no more 10-step nighttime routine. I use our handmade Moringa soaps to wash my face and body as they have moringa oil in them that is non-drying. Then, I swap between the Nourishing Aloe Vera, Detoxing Charcoal or Exfoliating Lemongrass depending on what I feel like that day. Next, I follow with a Moringa Body Oil for my body. I choose from the Dusk or Dawn scent depending on my mood. They absorb very quickly (one of the characteristics of moringa oil) so I can dress right after. For my face, I use the 100% Moringa Facial Oil as a serum with our gua sha or face roller which my skin loves as it’s super hydrating and keeps my skin healthy.
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5) Where can we experience treatments using Moringa?
We collaborate with spas to curate ‘Moringa Experiences‘ for their guests by providing unique treatment programmes and products. We have launched exclusively with The Oriental Spa at the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. There we offer three treatments curated by us and using Moringa Project Spa products and an exclusive Moringa Massage Oil. The treatment menu combines two powerful healing elements, Moringa and Clear Quartz Crystal, a ‘master healer’ because it amplifies positive energy, in order to create a unique healing treatment that stimulates the immune system and restores balance to your body. You can expect to find the Miracle Moringa Body Massage (90 mins), the Rejuvenating Moringa Facial (60 mins) and the ultimate Miracle Moringa Journey (120 mins) on their menu.
6) What are some business tips you can share with wellness entrepreneurs?
Find what you’re passionate about and share your knowledge or experience. Collaborate and connect with other wellness entrepreneurs, I find that sharing has led the business into unexpected paths that I would not have seen otherwise. Be open to ideas and be flexible to adapt your business to customer needs.
7) What does a perfect day in Bangkok look like for you?
I start with early morning bike rides with my family at one of the many parks. We love Nong Bon Lake Park for the long stretches of path shaded by trees. Then there’s the new Benjakritti Forest Park with elevated pathways looking over lotus ponds. We’ll also go to the old Lumpini, which feels like a stark contrast to the busy Bangkok streets. The afternoons are spent exploring the markets like Chatuchak. We’ll also go for a stroll around the old town of Talad Noi or the flower market. Finally, we’ll end with a long tail boat canal ride to one of the many food spots along the Chao Praya River.
I’ll then have a sunset drink across from Wat Arun at Sala Rattanakosin. After this, I enjoy having dinner at Rongros on the river and drinks in China Town. Of course, there needs to be a massage in there somewhere. If by the river I’ll head to the Oriental Spa at the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. Otherwise, you can always find a good massage place close by.
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8) What are your favourite spa hotels and wellness retreats in Thailand?
We are so fortunate to have so many wellness retreats at our doorstep here in Thailand. Kamalaya resets my soul every time I visit. So, I try to carve out time every year to indulge in its lush surroundings, holistic treatments and healing foods. I also love The Barai in Hua Hin. The architecture is like no other spa I’ve been to. Inspired by the Khmer cultural heritage, the Barai’s grandiose architecture and interior design transport you to another world. It’s a sanctuary of calm and the therapists are incredible.
9) What’s next for Moringa Project?
Our aim is to expand the love of Moringa beyond Thailand. We are currently talking to retailers, spas and hotels in Hong Kong, Laos, Cambodia, Maldives and Bali, and to UK and Europe later on. We are launching new retail products like Moringa Tea, Moringa Body Scrub, Moringa Hair Oil and Moringa Balm. Next, we will continue to develop more ‘Moringa Experiences’ with our spa partners like The Four Seasons, Barai and Mandara Spa.