Karin Velikonja – Bellabeat

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Inspirational women interview with Karin Velikonja

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Karin Velikonja is the founder of Glowinface, a brand offering in person and online face yoga courses to customers around the globe. She also created Face Yoga treatments for spas and beauty salons where, from now on, beauty experts can include face exercises into a facial treatment to not only nurture the skin but muscles too. Face Yoga is an up and coming trend in the world of women’s wellness which we believe is soon going to transform our beauty and wellness routines forever.

I’ve met Karin, who started the Glowinface brand and courses in 2015 when she was just 22, about 3 years ago in San Francisco. Even though we’re both from Slovenia, we both found a passion that pushed us into finding our opportunities beyond the borders of our home and language. Speaking of language, Karin is fluent and conducts her courses in 3 of them: Slovenian, English and Italian.

It’s not hard to understand the speed with which Glowinface is growing once you’ve met its founder. Karin is one of those always positive, never tired people that’s just bursting with energy and never turns down an opportunity to learn and grow. She’s definitely one of the people I think of when I’m too tired or lazy to do something just to give myself a little kick in the butt.

I especially wanted Karin to participate in the Inspirational Women interviews series not only because she inspires me but because what she does is very close to our mission and vision of improving women’s wellness in a holistic way.

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INTERVIEW

1. Karin, you started your own company at such a young age and you’ve managed to achieve so much already. Why did you start Glowinface yoga and what is your vision behind the brand?

I was always a perfectionist (and still am:)) who was interested in so many different things and wanted to do them all. Before I started with Face Yoga I had other projects I was working on. I was a ballet dancer for 11 years, at 14 I started my own fashion blog, at 18 I became a Zumba instructor, opened my own business and started teaching my own classes. At that time, I would have 5 classes per week while studying law at the University. I was working really hard and, as a perfectionist, putting a lot of pressure on myself along the way. Not to even mention I started to realize that the university I went to wasn’t the right choice for me but I still wanted to keep on going to prove to myself I could do this. What happened next was no coincidence. I experienced burnout which, in turn, led me to PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), low energy levels, feeling miserable and I could go on and on.

It was at that time that I had to stop, reflect and make a decision for my future self. I started reading self-growth books and discovering natural techniques to improve my health and well-being. This is when I discovered Face Yoga. And it changed my life. At that time, I had no idea I was going to one day become a teacher. I only wanted to try it on myself and heal. When I saw how the daily 10 minute long practice changed my health and well-being (which also resulted in my face looking more toned with radiant skin and less acne) I felt and urge to share this potent exercise with everybody. My dear mom joined me and started doing Face Yoga too. As she was 50 at that time we started seeing big improvements on her face too.

At 20, I did all my teacher trainings in Slovenia, continued in the USA, and took additional courses on Chinese medicine and Face mapping in Italy. I realized how strong the connection between the face, internal organs and emotions is and how you can heal, rejuvenate and achieve balance by only stimulating your face muscles. I started teaching 5 week long courses in Slovenia and continued in Italy, Croatia, Belgium and the United States. In those 5 years I gained a lot of experience and was able to see which exercises work, how I can improve them and how important the right technique and procedure is. I was able to see the changes on my clients faces and on their bodies before and after the courses. And this has kept me going.

I decided to put all my knowledge online in english to reach as many people as possible and show them how Face Yoga can help them too. I started collaborating with an italian cosmetics company Marzia Clinic where I educate beauticians about the importance of muscle activation. My newest project is Glowinface Face Yoga Facial where face exercises are done on the client that comes to a beauty salon or spa for a facial. This is one of the first treatments in the world where the client, with the help of a beautician, trains their face muscles while relaxing and getting the skin treatment done afterwards.

My vision is to spread awareness about the deep connection between health, well-being, beauty and aging gracefully. I want to show people that there is a natural way of rejuvenation that not only helps reduce wrinkles and sagging skin, but at the same time helps balance your health and well-being. I want to spread the word about the importance of self-care and self-love which can be achieved by working on ourselves and embracing each and every part of our body.

2. Starting your own business at any age is not easy for anyone. But you’ve managed to do it and on top of it alone, without a business partner. Can you tell us a bit about what it takes to start your own business?

Honestly, when I decided to start teaching Face Yoga a lot of people were making jokes about it and did not believe I could make it. Face Yoga was not, and it still isn’t, that known yet (more than 70% of people don’t know it exists) and seeing someone doing those “silly” poses looked very unfamiliar.

But I was paying no attention to it as I knew how much it helped me and how much it can help others, if only there was someone (crazy enough :)) to start spreading it around. I always had this deep desire in me to help others and be a contribution to the world, so I followed that desire. And I think that is the key: when you find something that lights a spark in your eyes and soul follow that, even if it seems so unrealistic and too dreamy at first.

Starting your own business takes courage, compassion and willingness to put all your efforts and time into a project you created in your mind. Besides working on the project, owning a business requires working on yourself the most. The key to success is following your vision, set goals and strongly believing that everything will work out the best way for you. When that is aligned, the right people and situations start coming into your life, leading you to your goal and purpose. That doesn’t mean that it’s always easy but you have to understand that difficult times are there to make you grow stronger. You have to learn how to set boundaries and always see your worth and that is what I’m still working on. I have to say that, even though I am without a business partner, I have the biggest supporters out there - my parents and my dear friend, who is now also my CMO, Anamarija from Content pixie. They are always there for me when I “forget” who I am and why I should keep on going.

3. Face yoga is a fast growing trend in the world of women’s wellness. When I first heard about it I was blown away, and I still am. Can you tell us more about the practice, its origin and benefits?

I wouldn’t say that face yoga is a trend. It’s a lifestyle. Face exercise actually dates all the way back to the Egyptian queen Cleopatra. Some historians claim face exercise kept her jowls at bay. Even Jack LaLanne, TV’s “godfather of fitness,” was a proponent of face exercise. Today many celebrities swear on face exercise including Cindy Crawford and Jennifer Aniston. Meghan Markle, for example, uses face yoga exercises to keep the volume in her cheeks.

Face yoga is an exercise for your facial muscles. We all know that training the body’s muscles gets them toned and in shape. Why should our face be any different? You have more than 50 muscles in your face, all closely connected. The problem is that we never use more than half of them. Because of the gravitation and aging process, they soon start to sag and lose volume. Due to emotions and mimics, the muscles get tense and shrink in volume too. The skin is closely connected to the muscle, so it will always respond to its movement. When the muscle sags, the skin will sag with it. When the muscle loses volume, the skin will not have enough place to lay on, and it will get wrinkly. We were all taught that moving your face muscles creates mimics and mimics create wrinkles. But you have to know that the right face exercises activate your face muscles in a completely different way than your mimics do. When you are doing your mimics you are doing fast unconscious movements that are causing the wrinkles. While face yoga is all about precisely and slowly activating muscle by muscle, feeling it and gaining control over it and always making sure you are not creating wrinkles on the face while doing the exercise. In that way face yoga can actually reduce your mimics and wrinkles.

Everybody should know that there is much more you should take care of beyond just the skin. Your face consists of around 70% muscles and bones, 20% fat and 10% skin. By activating all the face muscles, lifting them up and giving them volume you can see noticeable changes in your appearance, but also in your well-being and health. Exercising improves blood circulation (oxygen and nutrients) not only to the muscles but also to the deepest layers of the skin; to the brain and glands, making your cells work and regenerate faster. In that way, more collagen and elastin is being produced in the deepest layers of your skin which leaves it more toned, vibrant and glowing. Muscle stimulation and pressure created with the hands improves the function of the brain and glands, and in that way helps balance the hormones, reduces stress, boosts your energy levels and creates overall balance.

But there is more. Based on chinese medicine and face mapping your internal health is shown on the face through meridians and acupressure points. By doing the exercises and stimulating the right points you are balancing the energy in the associated organ. When the organ is balanced, the wrinkles, acne etc. are reduced. This is why I consider Face Yoga as a holistic workout.

I want to spread the word about the importance of self-care and self-love which can be achieved by working on ourselves and embracing each and every part of our body.

I want to spread the word about the importance of self-care and self-love which can be achieved by working on ourselves and embracing each and every part of our body.

4. The benefit of face yoga we (obviously) fell for first is its ability to correct facial features and basically achieve a natural “face-lift”. What I learned working in women’s wellness, but also from studying art, is how beauty is a way we visually perceive and define health (and status). That’s why achieving beauty is often a big part of our motivation in taking care of ourselves. Unfortunately, when beauty standards become virtually impossible to achieve, that desire to achieve it makes us suffer. What do you think about the connection between beauty and health and the current beauty standards imposed on women?

Because of social media and Instagram a lot of women (and men) started to feel pressure about “not being enough”. Beautiful enough, successful enough, loved enough. It makes me sad to see how superficial our world has become. How disconnected we are from our true selves. I strongly believe that beauty comes from a healthy life and body. But achieving this balance requires work which a lot of people is not willing and (or) afraid to do. That’s why we can see so many people reaching for a quick fix that unfortunately can do more harm than good; not only regarding our looks but our health too. It makes me sad to see so many women losing their uniqueness while striving to achieve these beauty standards.

In my opinion the point of beauty is not about looking like a 20 year old your whole life. It is about aging gracefully, being healthy, feeling good in your skin and embracing yourself along the way. This is what Face Yoga can help you with.

5. Slowing down the process of aging is something a lot of women start thinking about later rather than sooner. I know a lot of your clients come to you to reverse the effects of aging, on the outside at least. But unfortunately ageing changes us deeper than just the skin. Do you think young women should start considering the reality of aging sooner and why?

That is in our nature. We want to take shortcuts and ignore the signs until it hits us. We mostly decide to change our lifestyle when life “forces” us to do so. It can be a wrinkle or a disease. But, as it is with anything else, when it comes to ageing prevention is better than the cure. We all know that we shouldn’t wait to get old or overweight to start exercising our body, right?

The sooner you start with face yoga the better. When you are younger your muscles are still active and the gravitation process is not that visible yet. If you start with face exercises you slow down the aging process and make sure your muscles are not going to sag or lose volume under the influence of gravitation as fast. But as I said it is not only about the impact face yoga has on the skin and face. It is also about keeping your stress levels and hormones balanced. It is about learning how to accept and let go of the tension created by emotions and expectations. It is about discovering and embracing yourself fully. Face Yoga requires only 10 minutes of your time on a daily basis so there is no excuse for you not to dedicate that time to work on yourself.

6. I know that you lead a very healthy lifestyle and are huge promotor of self-care through your brand and courses. What are the beauty and wellness habits you swear by?

I swear by a daily face yoga practice and meditation. I do it in the morning as it sets my mood for the whole day. I only use non-toxic skincare and cosmetics, as I am aware that everything you put on your body is as important as everything you put in it. Every morning I drink a warm glass of water with lemon juice and a pinch of cayenne pepper to boost my metabolism and flush out the toxins accumulated over night. Drinking lemon water is good for your digestion and your skin. I always try to get enough sleep, and make sure I sleep on a silk pillow with a silk eye mask to create a complete darkness - only then the most important antioxidant and rejuvenating hormon melatonin is being produced. Especially in winter I try to make sure to visit a sauna once per week.

7. Working on your dream is often more exhausting than people think. With all the ups and downs and the 24/7 working hours, building your own business can be nerve wrecking. How do you manage stress? Do you think about work-life balance, is “me-time” important to you now?

In my opinion my “me-time” is the most important thing to take when you are creating your own reality and building a business. “Me-time” helps me reset, “cool down” my urge to do everything perfectly and as quickly as possible and helps me trust the process.

When I feel stressed out and overwhelmed I always return to my face yoga practice which allows me to slow down, and connect with myself. By adding deep breathes to the practice and by focusing on each muscle that has to work, face yoga for me is more like a meditation. I also take time to listen to some podcasts or videos on youtube about self-growth as it helps me distance myself from the “problem” and get a different view on it.

8. Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing the most?

I enjoy running, preferably at the seaside, reading books and travelling.

9. Can you talk about one book, person or event that influenced your life the most?

I love reading and I have quite a lot of books that helped me become who I am today. When I was at my worst Louise L. Hay books gave me hope to take my health and life in my own hands. The power is within you, You can heal your life and Gratitude: A way of life are my favorites. I highly believe in the law of attraction. This mindset and Vadim Zeland book’s - Reality transurfing were the ones that made me believe that with the right intention I can achieve everything I put my mind to. If I can mention one person that helped me the most on my journey it would be my mom who supported me from the very beginning and was there for me every time I felt like quitting.

10. How do you see your life changing in the next 10 years, what would you still like to achieve? How much do you think about your health and well-being when planning for the future?

My health and well-being is my first priority as I now know that only when I feel my best and “fully charged” I can be a contribution to everybody around me.

In 10 years I see myself working in the same field as I’m working in now - wellness, health and beauty. There are more than 70% of people who still don’t know anything about face yoga and my mission is to spread the word around the world. As I love to learn new things I think that by that time I will evolve and combine my knowledge to create even more effective routines and a structured holistic approach to beauty, well-being and health. I will do my best to make sure that 10 years from now face yoga will be as well known and practiced as yoga for the body is now.

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