Founder, CEO, & Mother.
Gabrielle Mirkin is the Founder and CEO of ACTIVIST. ACTIVIST is a Mānuka Honey company she founded with her husband Luke, five years ago. They specialize in The Ultimate topical and ingestible Mānuka products for beauty, wellbeing and immune support. You can find their offerings at the best clean beauty, lifestyle+department stores and organic grocers, juice bars and cafes across the globe. Prior to starting ACTIVIST Gabrielle lived in New York City and worked as an Art Director at Harper’s Bazaar and then VOGUE magazine. These learnings as well as her childhood in nature, growing up in Aotearoa, New Zealand have shaped the company and the woman I am today.
"I was born on an avocado farm in New Zealand and spent my upbringing swimming in the salty waters of the Pacific, hiking in the dense green native New Zealand bush with my family, and eating fresh abundant produce and Mānuka Honey from the local land. I have lived in Auckland, Sydney, New York City and now our home is Topanga Canyon, nestled into the Santa Monica mountains in Los Angeles, looking over the Pacific, facing west back to New Zealand. I am eternally blessed to be the mother of two small children Cisco River and Tallulah Blue, who inspire me everyday to be a better person. ACTIVIST is my third baby and receives almost as much love as the other two." - Gabrielle Mirkin
What was your journey like starting ACTIVIST and walking the path of motherhood simultaneously?
My entire adult career I worked as an art director in magazines, the most recent being Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar in New York City. While living and working in NYC I became really unwell literally overnight and was finally diagnosed with Lyme disease, a bacterial infection from a tick bite. After months of intravenous antibiotics which only made me worse, I spent time at a biological medical clinic in Switzerland. I left NYC for good and went and lived on our peaceful piece of land in Aotearoa, New Zealand; I used many healing therapies including Raw Mānuka Honey from my local beekeeper friends. My husband and I had a romantic idea to bring this beautiful rare resource and golden nectar from our homeland to the world.
After a year, as my health gradually began to improve, we moved back to the US, this time to Topanga Canyon in Southern California. I needed to be outside of a busy city and live somewhere quiet in nature. I never dreamed that my body would ever be healthy enough to become pregnant and have a baby. When I did find out I was pregnant I was working full time at a magazine in Los Angeles. Luke and I were also always working in the background on setting up ACTIVIST and bringing this other baby to fruition. I continued working full time at the magazine for 2.5yrs after our first baby was born, working on ACTIVIST late at night, early in the morning and when my son napped. We launched ACTIVIST when our son Cisco was two-years-old. ACTIVIST is a family business and an extension of our lifestyle. It was not a smooth ride by any means; but a very passionate one full of perseverance and passion. We now also have a daughter, Tallulah, so ACTIVIST is our third baby. Running a business and being a mother is really difficult, but something I would never change. I am so very grateful everyday that I get to do what I do and also work for myself. It’s an immense blessing.
I truly think that Manuka honey is supporting my ability to be in touch with the more feminine side of myself. I feel like the ritual of slathering honey on my face and enjoying the sweetness with my favorite cacao latte connects me to something that just feels juicy. It might be unexplainable or it might just be what nature intended. How does manuka honey support your own feminine form?
That is such a beautiful thing to share Sydney, thank you. In my opinion, Mānuka Honey is perhaps the single most wondrous ingredient on earth direct from Mother Nature herself. It’s an amazingly efficacious ingredient for woman’s cellular beauty and health. ACTIVIST Mānuka Honey supports my own feminine form when it comes to inner and outer beauty. Outwardly I use ACTIVIST to cleanse my skin every morning and evening and as a face mask a few times a week. Inwardly I use Mānuka Honey for immune and digestive support as well as cellular beauty. This refers to ingesting internal health products rather than just focusing on external skincare. Skincare is no longer just topical, but it is what we put into our bodies. I very much appreciate how this one single ingredient has so many benefits and none of the downsides of other ingredients that you have to watch out for in so many skincare products and supplements these days. An evening Mānuka Honey Mask with a couple drops of added Mānuka Oil is a beautiful feminine ritual while taking a bath, and drinking a tea with a little Mānuka Honey to sweeten.
As I prepare my body for becoming a mother, ACTIVIST Manuka honey has been a staple “supplement”. What nutrients are present and how can it support preconception and pregnancy?
I personally used ACTIVIST Mānuka Honey throughout my first and second pregnancy as well as breastfeeding for four years total with great results. Many of my pregnant friends and customers also express confidence in the safety and efficacy of Mānuka during pregnancy. Not only is it 100% natural and safe, the list of benefits make it an obvious ally whilst pregnant.
Apart from prenatal vitamins, there are not many herbs and supplements that should be used during pregnancy. I take a teaspoon of ACTIVIST 850+MGO Mānuka Honey every day to keep my immune system strong and at the first sign of a sore throat. Mānuka is highly anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial, and can be absorbed on top of the skin or swallowed for its health benefits. It is amazing for digestive, immune and oral health, burns and wounds, and almost any skin condition. It is completely adaptable for internal and external health.
Mānuka is especially wonderful for supporting the natural digestive microbiome (which is much needed especially during pregnancy and preconception). It uses its anti-bacterial properties to rid the gut of pathogens, allowing for the liver and lymphatic system to shine through your skin. This is because it contains oligosaccharides, which have a prebiotic effect on the gut and promote the proliferation of good flora. Simply put, Raw Mānuka Honey has some of the richest vitamins and minerals and is a great way to get you and your children essential daily nutrients. It contains b12 coenzymes, calcium, potassium, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, chromium, molybdenum, and manganese. In addition, it is full of amino and fatty acids and is high in vitamin C.
How does Manuka honey support the immune system?
The unique factor of the Mānuka flower and Mānuka Honey as opposed to conventional honey, is that it holds extremely high levels of MGO (Methylglyoxal), which is the key reason and element that you are wanting from a Mānuka Honey.
Methylglyoxal is the component that holds extremely high levels of anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory anti-microbial properties, which makes Mānuka Honey distinctive and unique both in price, taste and benefits. The higher the MGO number, the more potent the honey and therefore the more effective the honey is.
Mānuka has been proven to have efficacy against antibiotic-resistant microbes, promoting its powers against pathogens internally and externally. When sick, it improves sore throats, helps soothe coughs and improve common cold symptoms.
Our family takes a teaspoon of ACTIVIST Mānuka Honey 850+MGO daily to keep our immune systems strong, as well as a dropper of Mānuka Immune Elixir.
I think that Manuka could be such a lovely addition to the bedside table in postpartum, especially because of its skin repair benefits. Could utilizing Manuka internally support tissue and skin regeneration?
That is so thoughtful and wouldn’t it be great if every new mama could have a jar next to their bed for internal and external healing. ACTIVIST Mānuka is the quintessential antidote to almost any skin issue. This is because the Methylglyoxal in Mānuka Honey has been found to promote skin regeneration, repair cellular damage, calm inflammation and get rid of bacteria. It has also been shown to increase and protect the production of collagen in the skin, promoting structural growth and regrowth. Mānuka’s amino acids harmonize the pH balance of our skin. It is also extremely hydrating for the skin, helping to retain moisture, and can be taken internally or externally for this reason. In addition, due to its anti-inflammatory properties, Mānuka has extraordinary healing properties for skin conditions. It can reduce redness and heal congested or inflamed skin such as eczema or psoriasis. Additionally, Mānuka can be used for its anti-bacterial properties on the skin by oxygenating pores, which can draw out or reduce the amount of bacteria on blemishes. This can drastically improve acne-prone skin. Mānuka truly is magical at repairing skin damage and skin health.
When can little ones start enjoying the benefits of Manuka?
Infants under 12months of age should not consume honey of any kind. Once they celebrate their first birthday, gift them a jar of our new children’s honey Mānuka for Munchkins. It’s one of the simplest ways to keep your child healthy and happy. After years of experimenting with our own children and their friends in our community, we have discovered that kids love this particular flavor and texture of ACTIVIST Raw Mānuka Honey. This is a beautiful caramel toned Mānuka Honey with a smooth texture on the tongue; slightly sweeter than our medicinal grade honey but with the proactive nutritional and immune benefits. It’s one of the easiest ways to keep your child healthy and happy.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful answers. To wrap this up, I’d love to ask you one last personal question. If you could name this season of your life, what would it be called?
Beautiful chaos with much heart opening.