Mira’s Hand: authentic Moroccan skincare range developed right here in Australia

The other day I looked at my winter weathered face and thought, “bleccccch”.  Cold air, hot showers, artificial heating in buildings and all the copious amounts of coffee all made me look (and feel) like a tired ole rag. Which is always the bestest worst feeling (bleccccch).  I’ve had a lot of daydreams lately of warm balmy breezes, exotic locations, relaxing in the sun. It’s hard to get moving in the mornings when it’s freezing.  Introducing a little bit of warmth and excitement to my otherwise lacklustre winter routines are the only ways I can combat couch-potatoedness (a real thing, in my life at least). I’m sure there are heaps of other people out there who feel the same way.

The perfect antidote for feeling like a winter slug is to get straight into things that evoke a little taste of non-winter.  Melbourne-based Jamila El Maroudi is the Director and Founder of Mira’s Handwhich is officially described as “Authentic Moroccan Hammam Spa products”, but which would probably also be great for being known as Morocco in a Jar.  Products from Mira’s Hand help evoke an authentic Moroccan Hamman Spa experience, sans passport, sans airline ticket to Morocco.  Jamila offers a guide on how to implement the Moroccan Hammam Ritual at home using products from the Mira’s Hand range, just to bring bring Morocco that little bit closer.

Jamila was kind enough to share her thoughts on Mira’s Hand, her passion for skincare and many things Moroccan.

From the Stronghold of Victory, to The Netherlands, to the Land Down Under

I’m from Morocco and born in the capital Rabat, or “Ribatu l-Fath”, meaning “Stronghold of victory”, a city by the sea of almost 2 million people. My father originally settled there in 1965 and one day, while walking home from shopping, he noticed a woman with long silky black hair whom he fell in love with almost instantly, as you can see impetuousness runs in my family, or maybe it was just the sea air. Morocco is very multicultural country with people of all colours settling with its ancient boundaries from all over Africa, which is true of my family. My Father is from a black nomadic family and my mother is white Moroccan. My expat life in Australia began in 2006, moving all my worldly possessions to Melbourne after meeting and becoming engaged to my husband.

I’d like to say I moved primarily for love, but I also did it for change and adventure and to prove to myself I would fare well living in another country. These are ambitions I always held since I was young, or perhaps it’s my Nomadic genes coming through.

My background is in Marketing and the Arts, but I’ve have always had a passion and a knack for selling beauty products. One of my first jobs was working with The Body Shop in The Netherlands, where I was a high performing salesperson and also learnt to admire the work and ethics of Anita Roddick, especially how she brought purpose to commerce beyond pure profits. My cultural heritage also comes through strongly in my habitual pursuit of the Hammam which I was raised with. This weekly ritual has imparted me with a deep knowledge of traditional and authentic Moroccan beauty treatments, the techniques, natural ingredients including essential oils, herbs and other ingredients. The beauty rituals and recipes of Moroccan women use today are timeless and incredibly effective – my companies tagline is ‘We believe in beauty sharing, not beauty secrets’, so I guess you could say I’m working to represent my proud and unique cultural heritage.

Jamila El Maroudi from Mira's Hand

Jamila El Maroudi from Mira’s Hand

The difference between there and here

My family moved to the Netherlands when I was three or four, but returned to Morocco every year. We would travel home to spend several months there with family and friends and I still retain great memories to this day of growing up between cultures, resulting in my current worldview and a love of languages. I probably most miss my large extended family and the proximity to other countries for putting my languages to good use. At home with my family we speak a mélange of Arabic, Dutch and French which makes for diverse, colourful passages and interplay. Additionally I studied German and English and have a good understanding of Romance languages. I also miss the ease of travelling to different countries, to wake up on Saturday morning and drive to Belgium or France because I simply felt like it.

My biggest Melbourne loves are the coffee, seasons and food! Masterchef has a huge following overseas and I understand now why the rest of the world looks to Australia for re-invention, but also a quality and passion in their pursuits. I love the open spaces, clean air and ease of living where I can walk my soul companion Dinah, my slum dog from Rabat I’ve had for 17 years.

In her Grandmother’s memory

We have a saying in Morocco that goes, “You have a good hand”, and that relates to a person’s skills. You could be adept at cooking, painting, storytelling, literally anything you came to be good at over time or naturally. Mira was my late grandmother, a fiercely independent woman known to spend hours in the hammam with me and was a master of many crafts. She had a good hand at many things and hence I named the business after her. Her cooking was so notorious that the very wealthy families in the city would sometimes request her especially for their dinners and banquets. She was known for her ‘bracelets’, a stuffed eel recipe that I have been seeking the technique and ingredients to for years.

I was the apple of her eye. She was a total feminist and would warn all the men in my family that they would be cursed if ever they would try to hinder me from doing anything that I wanted – it worked. I remember her telling me she pictured a life for me where I would wear short skirts, drive expensive cars and be my own boss. Mind you this was Morocco in the seventies and her liberal, foreword thinking still astounds me today. Our company logo also represents the ‘Hamsa’, Arabic for 5, as in the five digits of the hand and it represents many powerful elements of my culture, such as the warding of the evil eye.

Looking after oneself, both mentally and physically is not seen as an indulgence in Morocco but a prerequisite for a healthy lifestyle

The hammam: a meeting place for friends and family

On moving to Australia, I was surprised to see there were no hammams, not even in well-known and established hotel brand spas. There were, however, many well-known spa trends in the market from Asia, Scandinavia and the Middle East, but not North Africa.

Today, in 2015 the Hammam is an intrinsic part of my client treatment menus as it is in Moroccan culture. Traditionally the hammam is a meeting place for friends and family, a place that also symbolises joy and mourning, given most life events are still celebrated in the hammam. Women (and men) typically visit the hammam once a week or once a fortnight. Looking after oneself, both mentally and physically is not seen as an indulgence in Morocco but a prerequisite for a healthy lifestyle and the reason women spend hours in the hammam primping, even if only for themselves (and why not). It is still an affordable exercise for most people, even in remote areas of Morocco but it is becoming more popular in many exclusive spa destinations around the world.

The Moroccan Hamman Spa experience

I am proud to see Hammam facilities increasingly being installed and adapted around Australia. The feedback has been always super positive. My favourite hammams are located at the Peninsula Hot Springs, the Spa at the Darling and I love the Hepburn Bathhouse. There is no comparison to any other form of exfoliation or scrub than the Moroccan Hammam method in my experience. Other granule based exfoliations may feel nice and make your skin supple, there is nothing like an authentic hammam body treatment. When you observe your own skin coming off in rolls it may initially be shocking or embarrassing for some, but please believe me when I say, it is ESSENTIAL to having healthy skin, take it from millions of woman who need it as I do.

Beauty editors have described the Moroccan Hammam Ritual I developed for The Darling Spa in Sydney as ‘the best body treatment ever’. Others have generously referred to it as ‘the holy grail of body treatments’. So the feedback has been phenomenal as well as from customers to therapists to beauty editors.

Pure Moroccan Organic Argan Oil is everyone’s fave

It’s multi-functional and one of the highest quality Argan oils available in Australia. Celebrity make up artists use it on their clients and health advocate and blogger Sarah Wilson has endorsed our Argan oil on her blog a few times to date, which we are immensely grateful for.

Many people assume Argan oil is just a hair product, but it’s so much more than that. We know where our Argan oil comes from and how it’s produced, being pressed for us every three months and airfreighted directly to Melbourne, and that in purchasing from Mira’s Hand you are supporting the many women in Morocco who make a living from its production.  Just as we all like to eat the freshest produce available to us, we also seek to provide quality product to our customers and spend time to educate the market on how to use our range. Avoid nasty ingredients and in some case, spending money on misleading products that leverage my culture in selling products not even produced in Morocco, simply by asking where the product is made.

We know and understand Moroccan beauty rituals, their heritage, meaning and purpose. We are not driven only by profit, but by offering and providing a way to reconnect to your self again, through ancient techniques and methods that were founded around nature’s bounty, human caring and community

The Argan Oil is Jamila’s fave too!

Every time I use this ‘Liquid Gold’, I also imagine the arduous, manual work that has gone into producing this rare oil and I respect it and all those countrymen and women that protect and nourish the future of the Argan Tree immensely, including my friend Zoubida Charrouf. It is not a fad or trend, but it’s my ‘Hero’ product and it deserves a place in every woman’s daily beauty regime.

I also can’t live without my weekly hammam at home treatment using my savon noir and Moroccan kiss (traditional glove). It is truly the ultimate exfoliation, there is nothing like having a Sunday hammam at home, slipping into cotton pyjamas and then into crisp clean sheets in bed with a cup of tea and a good book. All you need is a bathroom capable of withholding steam and even better, a partner who can assist with your back!

The thing that makes MIRA’S HAND unique

We’re authentic, we teach, we educate and we tell the truth. We know and understand Moroccan beauty rituals, their heritage, meaning and purpose. We are not driven only by profit, but by offering and providing a way to reconnect to your self again, through ancient techniques and methods that were founded around nature’s bounty, human caring and community. We know what makes a good quality product and we avoid making claims or statements convincing people that science betters nature. Maybe it can in some instances but until we experience a better result than our combination of method and product, we don’t expect to be changing our approach anytime soon and nor should you.

We pride ourselves that our products are fresh and clean. We fly out products every three months. With natural products you want to have a shorter shelf life and so you need to ensure that the products are super fresh and don’t linger on a shop shelf for months on end.

A Moroccan Hammam Spa experience

A Moroccan Hammam Spa experience

Jamila’s beauty secret

As our motto is “We don’t believe in beauty secrets, we believe in beauty sharing”, I am happy to share another beauty recipe with you. For brittle and discoloured nails take a bowl of warm water, add eight drops of lemon juice and 8 drops of Argan oil. Place your hands in the bowl for 8 minutes and wipe your hands with a towel. The acid in the lemon will clean and brighten your nail and the Argan oil will harden the nails. It’s a winner and so simple to do!

Taste of Morocco Wellness Tours

These are tours I designed for others to experience the real Morocco I know and am familiar with. As a Moroccan, I offer insights and access to places that normal tourists on a standard tour might not typically see. I take people off the beaten track and give them a truly authentic experience. My guests get to go to places and have experiences that are not normally available through generic booking sites.

For example, on my latest tour I hosted a group attending the Global Spa and Wellness Summit in Marrakesh. This group of delegates visited many remote and ancient Hot Springs and Hammams with me and remarked it to be one of the most amazing tours they had experienced. For example, one of the springs we visited was located in a cave like building dug beneath the Anti Atlas, deep in the South of Morocco, not far from where they had recently been filming the latest Mission Impossible 5 installment. In the middle of nowhere we descended on slippery stairs into a dark cave to access the most amazing hot springs all to ourselves. People can contact us at info@mirashand.com.auto find out about the next tour.

For more information about MIRA’S HAND, or to purchase any of her products, go to www.mirashand.com.au.

 

All images supplied by Jamila El Maroudi

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