Every creature on earth is concerned with his or her appearance.

I use the pronouns “his” or “her” intentionally, because in most species this attention to appearance is connected to attracting a mate for procreation. For the human species, things are different. Our interest in our appearance doesn’t need to be connected to mating, or even dating. It can be a form of artistic or self-expression. And there are whole industries – from hair dye to health diets – to help us out.

The connection between health and beauty is an age-old pursuit of balance between the art of appearance and science of health. It seems all throughout human history we’ve augmented our appearance with products distilled from nature.

In 69 BC, Cleopatra bathed in milk and honey. In the 1700’s, Marie Antoinette used a face mask made of white wine and crushed strawberries. Today, two Romanian women, Raluca Giurgiutiu and Diana Morari, have a body and skincare company called Madonna Lily that uses all natural, ethically sourced and sustainable ingredients.

Raluca Giurgiutiu, her company Madonna Lily uses time-tested all-natural Romanian folk remedies to promote skincare, health and beauty

Raluca Giurgiutiu, her company Madonna Lily uses time-tested all-natural Romanian folk remedies to promote skincare, health and beauty

You can find Madonna Lily’s products online, in stores, and wholesale via Faire. The company is based in New Orleans.

Humans have a way to present themselves to other humans in a way most species do not. With clothes. Clothes probably say as much about us as anything.

Although we are continually redefining what is fashionable and what isn’t, the one constant we all seem to agree on is, clothes ought to be clean, not dirty. So, given that almost every single human wants to look good in clean clothes, the art and science of keeping clothes looking good and clean is an indispensable industry.

Nobody in New Orleans knows that better than Dale Velez. Dale is the current co-owner of Young’s Dry Cleaning, a family-owned business that’s been cleaning clothes for New Orleanians for over 8 decades.

Dale Velez, 80 years later the family business Young's Dry Cleaning is still going and still growing

Dale Velez, 80 years later the family business Young’s Dry Cleaning is still going and still growing

Back in the mid 1980’s there was an ad campaign for haircare products in which the owner of the company, Vidal Sassoon said, “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.” That sentiment could easily apply to both Dale and Raluca’s companies.

When someone compliments us by saying “You’re looking great” or “I love your shirt,” the first thing we think of to say in response might not be, “I’m using a new face cleaning product,” or “I just had this shirt cleaned and pressed,” but that might actually be what our complimentary friends are noticing.

Dale is keeping a business running successfully into its 8th decade and on the other end of the spectrum Raluca has successfuly navigated her business through its challenging first few years.

Peter Ricchiuti, Dale Velez, Raluca Giurgiutiu, out to lunch at NOLA Brewing

Peter Ricchiuti, Dale Velez, Raluca Giurgiutiu, out to lunch at NOLA Brewing

Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. Photos by Jill Lafleur.