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The Wellness Questionnaire with Kathy Griswold, Co-Founder of Lola Arnao Beauty

Discover how this skincare entrepreneur is living her best life at 75

Compelled by a passion for environmental preservation and inspired by menopausal skin conditions, Kathy Griswold came out of retirement at age 75 to co-found Lola Arnao, an ethical skincare company, with her daughter. Relying on her 40-plus years as a professional chef with experience in feeding people with allergies, Griswold acts as the brand’s product formulator, using her passion for quality ingredients, knowledge of allergens, and background in chemistry to create skincare for super-sensitive skin made from natural ingredients. “I bring the same passion I had for cooking to crafting our skincare,” says Griswold. “Whether it’s sourcing the best apricot kernel oil from Spain or the best rose clay from France, I care about where our ingredients come from. I believe that what we put on our body matters just as much as what we put in our body.” Here, she shares how she prioritizes wellness in her own life and continues to live with purpose.

What are your favorite things to do to maintain your personal wellbeing?

I’ve always loved the arts and music, but as a chef for many years, I didn’t often have time to experience art. When I turned 75, I made a promise to myself that I would experience at least one cultural event a month, and this has been one of my favorite ways to maintain my wellbeing. In the past year, I’ve seen everything from poetry readings to a wonderful Frida Kahlo exhibit to hip-hop-meets-classical music performance featuring Nas and the Oregon Symphony. It’s one of the best commitments I’ve ever made to myself and has been so much fun. Next up is a modern ballet performance!

What is your favorite healthy food, and do you have a favorite way of preparing it?

I love vegetables of all kinds, and they are some of my favorite healthy foods to cook. We’re blessed here in the Pacific Northwest with a bounty of local produce, and I always have fun exploring our local farmer markets. I also try to cook seasonally, which means because it’s spring, I’ve been cooking a ton of asparagus and new potatoes. When vegetables are fresh, they are naturally delicious, cook quickly, and don’t need a ton of seasoning. My favorite way to cook just about any vegetable is to roast it simply in the oven on a high heat with salt, pepper, and a healthy drizzle of local olive oil. We’re planning on planting olive trees here at the farm— and while it’s still a few years away—I can’t wait for the day when I can cook with olive oil from my own land. In the meantime, we’re cultivating our garden beds, as well as our apple and pear trees. It’s truly a joy to cook using vegetables and fruit from our backyard.

What is your favorite healthy beverage (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), and do you have any insider tips for preparing it?

During the pandemic, my daughter and I discovered tea and have become quite the tea aficionados. Since co-founding our business, we’ve started a tradition of ending our workday with afternoon tea. It’s a great way to discuss our day, plan for the rest of the week, and decompress a bit.

If you’d like to discover the world of tea, I’d recommend checking out Rare Tea out of the UK or Camelia Sinensis in Montreal as a starting point. Both offer sustainably produced and ethically sourced loose-leaf tea and have a variety of samples that you can start with. My best tip for preparing delicious tea is to switch from tea bags to loose leaf made in a tea infuser, as the quality is so much higher. Also, it’s worth investing in a nice teapot that gives you water that’s temperature controlled and using a timer for steeping the tea. Have fun exploring, as there’s a whole world of tea and interesting stories about where it was grown.

What person in wellness do you most admire and why?

I’m a big fan of Andrea Russell who’s an Ayurvedic practitioner, yoga therapist, and meditation teacher. Based in the Midwest, she teaches yoga retreats and classes around the world. What I most appreciate about her is how she takes concepts from yoga and Ayurveda and makes them really accessible and applicable to our daily lives. She’s got a wealth of knowledge but manages to present it in a way that’s completely free of judgment and totally approachable, which is how I believe wellness should always be presented. I’m also dying to go on one of her luxury yoga retreats to Costa Rica someday.

Do you have a secret health or wellness tip you would like to share?

I’m not sure if it’s a secret, but I think one of the keys to my wellness is rooted in the Japanese concept of “ikigai” or the idea that we all need to feel a sense of purpose in life, a reason to get up in the morning. For me, a big piece of this is doing work that I both believe in and am excited about, and it’s why I came out of retirement.

Along those same lines, throughout the course of my life, I’ve always volunteered whenever I was able. Offering the skills I have as a chef to feed others has helped me to feel a sense of purpose, whether it’s volunteering to help make school lunches healthier or feeding the homeless.

What is your favorite place for a healthy vacation or escape?

The Willamette Valley of Oregon where I live would make for a wonderful healthy vacation or escape. It’s about 45 minutes south of Portland, and the region was just named one of the world’s greatest places (and the “next Napa Valley”) by Time magazine.

As a fairly new Oregonian, I’m still always discovering new places, but I love exploring the wineries in the area. Our wine region is known for its stellar pinot noir. I also love escaping to the coast for Dungeness crab. There are gorgeous places to hike, such as the trails around a local Trappist abbey or you could spend an afternoon exploring one of the valley’s adorable small towns like Carlton. Our farm, and the renovated barn where Lola Arnao Beauty is based, is near McMinnville, which is very walkable with a great indie bookstore, locally owned record shop, and wonderful restaurants, including my farm-to-table favorite, Humble Spirit. I’ve really fallen in love with the area, and the Pacific-Northwest feels like home.

What is your favorite self-care routine?

I try to maintain a nighttime self-care routine to prepare myself for sleep and to take care of my skin. My mother taught me the importance of daily cleansing and moisturizing—and looked amazing into her 90s.

I usually take a shower or bath and then do head-to-toe moisturizing with the solid Lola Arnao lotion bar. It’s rich in calendula and cacao, which are healing and help to protect my skin barrier. I keep my facial skincare routine quite simple and moisturize and do a bit of facial massage with plum oil. It’s rich in vitamins, great for my rosacea-prone sensitive skin, and naturally smells like delicious marzipan. I always treat myself to a spritz of perfume and super-soft pajamas before bed, too!

What is your go-to for de-stressing?

I was a chef for more than 40 years, and I still love to cook, so my go-to for de-stressing is to get back in the kitchen. There’s something about kneading bread dough or chopping onions that grounds me and brings me back to myself.

What brings you joy?

As a child growing up on a farm in the Midwest, I loved horses and would ride for hours any time I had the chance. As an adult with children and a restaurant to run, life got busy and, unfortunately, horses fell out of my life. However, seven or eight years ago my daughter took up horseback riding and fell head-over-heels in love with them. I rediscovered my love of horses at the same time. Since then, we each bought a horse, and it’s become a big part of my life again.

My go-to for de-stressing is to spend time with my gelding, Romeo, just grooming him. One of the greatest parts of being my own boss is that I can decide when I need to de-stress. The horses are just a stone’s throw from the renovated barn where I work and I’m able to grab a carrot and a brush and walk out to the pasture anytime. The day, and all its problems, seem to fall away as I brush his mane, and I get to feel like a kid again with my horse. It’s the most joyful part of my day!

About The Author
Heather-Mikesell-author-1

Heather, co-founder of Well Defined and the former editor-in-chief of American Spa, is an award-winning journalist and content strategist, skilled in writing, copyediting, and media relations. She is also a freelance writer and has contributed to Elite Traveler, Islands, Kiwi, Luxury Travel Advisor, Organic Spa, Porthole Cruise, Travel Agent, abcnews.com, jetsetter.com, outside.com, and wellandgood.com, in addition to various custom publications. She is frequently called upon to comment on various spa and wellness trends for various media outlets.