Karim Sattar, the internationally renowned professional makeup artist and the Global Communications expert of PRIMAVERA since April 2021, gave an exclusive interview for Natura nrg readers.
Karim’s clients include Jane Fonda, Princess Charlene of Monaco, Auma Obama, Marie Bäumer amongst others while he represents the company internationally with training seminars, interviews and presentations.
The Athens Vegan Festival provided the backdrop for our meeting in the reception area of Technopolis. He himself has always a warmth and a permanent smile pinned to his face.
And although he is the one who is a guest in our country, Greece for him as he told us is his second home. When he saw us we felt as if he welcomed us into his own kingdom of beauty and harmony.
In a kingdom where respect for nature and the uniqueness of each person is at the center of its philosophy.
♦ By Eftychia Fragou
♦ EF: Karim Sattar, welcome to Greece! This is such an honour for us!
As you’ve been in the natural and organic market for more than 25 years I want us to start from the basics because the word natural and organic have been misused a lot. What does it really mean to be natural and organic?
KS: The word natural and organic has been used in contexts where you really ask yourself what exactly are you referring to.
So when it comes to our a quality standards natural means pure no additives, no synthetic colors, no artificial die, no artificial fragrance, no parabens and synthetic preservatives, so as pure as it gets.
Now when you go and look one level higher, organic and the organic quality we look at the whole holistic angle of the production including the human being and it’s not that we just create a product which has a formulation that is clean. We look at the whole full on holistic picture meaning, what does it mean to absorb quite a considerable amount of product when a person applies it to the face and then this goes to the entire system? Why do we not use any synthetic die or synthetic fragrance? Because our body can not digest it and it literally maintains in our body; So for me an organic biological and holistic product should be combining all these angles. It is a sustainable approach to nature in terms of sustainability, packaging, recycling of the extra components going to the formula that is in the ideal world, pure, free of any synthetic additives, plus the look at the person you are addresssing to; their life circumstances, their lifestyles and what part in their life they are at. Is it a young mother is it a mature woman? And so I think this is to sum it up what makes it organic or natural to me.
♦ EF: So it doesn’t only start and finish with what we eat, it continues with what we wear or with what we do. So a person who wants to go green needs to go slowly from A to Z?
KS: Exactly. It’s always the reason why you use green products. Some people might use green products because they find their scent more natural and more appealing. Some other women or men use natural cosmetics or sustainable products because they want to protect the environment.
So depending on where you come from and what your main reason is, why you choose natural cosmetics, you have the opportunity to go from A to Z but you can also say: “I’m starting with A, I am continuing the way that I know and at some point who knows I might come to Z.” But it doesn’t always mean black and white or right and wrong, so for me, the most dreadful words, when it comes to organic, —because I was raised on an organic farm, I’ ve been raised like this— is the dogma of either, always and never and right and wrong. These words I absolutely dislike. Because it really takes away all the joy. You should always do this, never do this… It is so judgmental and it is so manipulative.
♦ EF: You need to be inclusive.
KS: You need to be inclusive, you need to start from somewhere. And if this means that you start with an organic face toner and all the rest in your cosmetic bag is conventional, then you do a little step, to a sustainable life. And this is huge and very important.
♦ EF: Does every green product is also ethical? Do you care about your general approach as a company, meaning that you are starting from the material as you said, going to the gender pay gap etc. You understand probably what I mean, because I don’t know if all the green companies are also ethical.
KS: To be honest with you, I can’t imagine but I can’t also speak for other organic companies. Within the PRIMAVERA world for us it’s really important again the whole picture, the holistic picture. When we employ a person, the person is not only employed based on their studies or direction of how they appear in their life but also really how does that person correspond with his team? How is the conflict potential? What does it mean to work for a holistic brand? Are you living a holistic life yourself? Do you use organic products? All these things are influencing our decisions to take new people on board.
Is every green brand also ethical? I don’t think so. Are we still having a long way to go, you mentioned the pay gap, you mentioned the inclusion when it comes to non-binary. Is everything in this word ideal? No but I think we are at the edge of…
♦ EF: A major change…
KS: A major change is happening. And in Greece I know for the last 10 years, since I am not here anymore, because back then we had the 1.5% of the population that was devoted to organic and in the year 2022, ten years later, we are having exactly the same number which is very sad, that the last 10 years we don’t have much more awareness. However we have an economical difficulty in Greece, we have a minimum wage problem here, it’s a luxury. And don’t forget, sometimes I am with people and they speak about veganism and they say how important it is to be aware. And I am now at a vegan festival. But there are voices that say that you have to be able to afford veganism. Now because we are not all so fortunate to live in Greece, I live in Berlin and if I want to have good vegetables in winter, sorry but you have to be able to afford it. We need to become a bit more merciful and understanding…
♦ EF: It’s what you said we should not be judgmental and we need to be more inclusive starting from somewhere let’s say. You grew up at an organic farm and I guess this background gave you a deep appreciation of nature and a real understanding of the importance of having proper footprint on this world. So it all started from your youth… Because I guess at the time green was not so big as it is now.
KS: I know. I remember my grandfather cutting out articles for my father, of so-callled scientific researches that organic can never work. So my grandfather owned this farm and he was running it conventionally and then my father in 1981 had this idea, this vision that he wants to turn it into a Demeter farm and his father my grandfather, he was “Oh my God”. Let me say the least he was not amused and he was also not supportive.
The opposite. He was like I said cutting out articles, saying that it’s not gonna work. So these articles, I remember as a kid coming to breakfast and my dad’s place was decorated with all these articles saying: “It’s not gonna work”. It was terrible. And now looking back 30 years my grandfather rest well but I mean sometimes I wish he could see what his son built up as one the first pioneers in bio products in Germany. My parents still have the farm, it’s still a Demeter farm. And I think: “Great! They did it!” But we have to be a bit careful because organic like we said in the beginning is not always organic and you know the jungle of labels. It’s crazy for consumers. So look out for NATRUE, it’s a label certification recognised all around Europe.
♦ EF: So when you buy as a consumer you always check out that.
KS: I look for cruelty free, for vegan products, There is no need anymore to use animal derivative ingredients or even bee’s wax.There are so many great alternatives now that’s why we came here to Athens Vegan Festival proudly presenting the 19 new products in that range and we are pretty much vegan in all our categories. It’s great.
♦ EF: You have worked across fashion with actresses, with models, with princesses, with politicians in the beauty work of make up. Now you are combining these great loves of your life making women beautiful and now PRIMAVERA. For you what makes a woman beautiful in 2022?
KS: It’s a very interesting question. Thank you for this because it’s unusual to be asked this. Usually the question I get is: “How can a woman become more beautiful?”, so what makes a woman beautiful in 2022 has a depth because it is so subjective. For me especially after these difficult years, kindness, mutual support, the ability to just breathe in and out for a minute, and just be able to look kindly at your neighbour in the tube, in a tavern, at a festival, are enough.
As soon as you acquire a kinder approach to your fellow man, I think something happens to people. They become much more beautiful, they radiate and shine.
♦ EF: Now that we are talking about beauty, we are in Greece, which basically invented the term “beauty” and “harmony”.
But how do you see the exaggeration behind it? A whole global discussion has started about what is excessive, and what is natural. We see girls using fake hair, fake eyelashes, fake teeth, plastic surgeries of all kind from the age of 18.
KS: With one word dysmorphia. There is a medical term. Dysmorphia. It is more like a disease. I want to urge parents to observe their children and refer to specialists. I go to a psychiatrist on a regular basis to always be in touch with myself, to really get to know myself And it was the best decision of my life. Because I look in the mirror and of course I’m 47 years old and things on my body and face are different than they were when I was 20 years old. And I realize that I am a man and that the pressure is not the same. But as I said before it starts from within us.
The only way we can all protect ourselves from this hurricane is to keep a distance, to give ourselves specific digital time in the day. I personally don’t watch TV, I don’t watch gossip programs, I don’t need it in my life, it’s toxic.
♦ EF: In the last 18 months you have been selected as a Global Communications Expert of PRIMAVERA. How does it feel to have this great honour and how was it for you to accept this offer? What makes PRIMAVERA different especially for you who has obviously tried everything in the cosmetics world?
KS: The last 18 months for me have been such a blast, because even though I have been in this industry all these years, I was given the opportunity to learn so much and dive into this world of organic cosmetics that I knew very well but because I was so focused on the world of make-up, now I was able to devote myself to the world of oils, skin care creams, aromatherapy and that’s so exciting, because I’m learning something new.
♦ EF: Who is a woman and a man of PRIMAVERA? Have you imagined who these people are?
KS: This is actually a very important question because we discuss about this a lot in our company.
Is this PRIMAVERA enough? Is he/she PRIMAVERA? What is PRIMAVERA?
There is no women’s and men’s lines in Primavera. For us, our products have no gender. The man e.g. can borrow the woman’s cream and vice versa.
Anyone who is interested in a greener, fairer and conscious life, who is not only interested in himself, who cares about his footprint, then yes he is with us. This is Primavera.
♦ EF: Let’s hope that we are in the post-Covid era, what would you say to the audience of Greece and Cyprus who read Natura nrg, use PRIMAVERA products or who want to try them?
KS: First of all I want to congratulate you for your courage and your uniqueness and for becoming more demanding as customers. I adore the fact that you are so open as a people. I really love Greece. I think that in my previous life I was Greek and I feel Greek. And I understand you. I am so proud of the progress that has been made. I understand that probably because you live here you may not see it. But everything is getting better and every time I come I feel like I’m coming home.
When I walk in Athens, I see beauty everywhere. I want to thank everyone for choosing our products. It was a huge honor to talk to you and your readers and I feel like we all sat together at a big Greek table, where I answered such essential questions after a very long time.
♦ EF: Thank you Karim… In Ancient Greece beauty consisted of beauty and the soul.
KS: What we are looking for in PRIMAVERA too… Thank you from the bottom of my heart.