Founder Jena Covello’s Mother Marcella on Finding the Fountain of Youth

Founder Jena Covello’s Mother Marcella on Finding the Fountain of  Youth

When you speak to Marcella Covello, it isn’t surprising that she raised an ambitious daughter who founded a clean skincare brand that emphasizes results. In the course of our conversation on her fitness routine, relationship with stress, navigating menopause, her skincare regimen and other secrets to the fountain of youth, she casually drops in phrases like, “I'm currently working on a project for high voltage, electric and substations.” In other words, brains and beauty collide. In honor of Mother’s Day, Agent Nateur got the secrets to living well from founder Jena’s preternaturally youthful mom. Read on for all of her insights. 

What do you attribute your fountain of youth to?

When I was 15, I had a good friend, who had three sisters, and her mother was diagnosed with liver cancer. Their dad brought her down to Mexico for alternative treatment and he started juicing for his wife. It was a very different way of looking at cancer. So I just became very interested. I started reading about different groups of people—one of them was the Hunza people of Pakistan and their diet. When I had Jena, I became even more enmeshed in health, healthy eating and exercise. I’ve been riding my bike with a group of friends at the New Jersey beaches for 60-mile rides since I was 15. So it's been something from the time I was a teenager that I was very interested in and committed too.

What are your favorite current Agent Nateur products?

Every morning I mix holi © with the holi (créme) and the holi (water)— two pumps of the cream with two pumps of the water and less than a dime size of the C. And then I use the new product, the Holi Sun Dewy Tinted SPF serum, which I love. Typically, I've used a very heavy zinc-based SPF and this one is very different. It's light, there's no residue, there's no white cast. And then every night I use her holi (water) again and I mix that with a Retin-A cream.


Tell us about your experience with menopause and your thoughts on hormone replacement therapy, how do you feel about it?


I believe women go through different periods in their life, menstruation, your childbearing years. And I've always looked at menopause as a natural transition. Doctors wanted us to go on hormones and I looked at it as, this is a natural process that I'm going to go through. I never looked at it as something that would be uncomfortable, that I wasn't going to feel good. I feel that if I eat healthy, if I take care of my body, if I exercise and work out, that this is just something that we go through. I did experience night sweats. 

When I was 50 years old, I noticed doctors in New Jersey wanted me to take cholesterol medication, a statin, and heart medication, because I tend to run high with cholesterol.

I did have high blood pressure but Jena said, "I want you to see Dr. Hunter." And I went to see Julia Hunter and she gave me natural borage and natural supplements. I never went on heart medication and I didn't take statins. My good cholesterol was high. So that kind of counteracts the bad which is the LDL. Some people may need to take hormones, but I just found that, to me, menopause was not a big deal. It was just something natural.


You mentioned night sweats in menopause, often, aging overall can affect sleep. What’s your relationship with sleep?


I feel so fortunate that I sleep most nights, nine to 10 hours. I think in general the population is sleep deprived and they're not hydrated. 


What are your secrets to sleeping well?


I used to take melatonin but for the past probably 10 to 12 years, I've been taking magnesium at night, which really eliminates leg cramping and promotes sleep. I also take hole (mane) collagen, and I mix the holi (radiance), which has MSM in it. I've been taking MSM for a very long time and I really don't have any joint issues. And I run. I know Jena doesn't like this, but I run a mile at least four times a week and I use weights and do lots of squats.


What’s your full overall fitness routine?


I typically come to work three days a week and, regardless of how I feel, I go down to the gym and work out. First I start out with squats. Last night I started with two 10 pound weights and did 60 squats, 30 on each leg. And then I also do the leg press. Then I go on the treadmill. I'll start with an elevation of five at 3.3 speed for about a minute. Sometimes I'll go two miles, but I'll alternate with two-tenths of a mile running hard and fast so that my heart rate goes up to at least 137. Sometimes it'll go up to 160, and then I'll slow down and I'll walk quickly on an elevation. I'll alternate between one mile and two miles, at least four times a week.


What are your current thoughts on injectables, lasers and fillers?


In 2014, I was getting Botox in the glabella between my eyebrows. The physician I was going to said, "You should come back every three months," which I think is wrong. That's a lot. So I noticed probably three years ago that my right eye started to droop and I said, "Wait a minute, my eye is drooping, that's not normal." So I haven't gotten it since. I haven't gotten anything in three years and I won’t again. I try to temper my frowning but Jena's products are just so efficacious that I like my skin.


What’s your overall diet philosophy, including alcohol? Has it changed over the years and what is it now? 


When Jena and Louis were babies, I made their food, it was all organic. And restrict a lot. I might fast at least once a week. During the day I may eat a small lunch like vegetables. And when I go home, I’ll have a piece of fish. I really haven't changed my eating habits. They've been pretty consistent probably for the past 50 years.

For alcohol, there were times when I was younger that I drank too much. For me, three glasses of wine is way too much. So now if I have two to three glasses of wine a month, that's a lot. I find if I have more than one glass of wine, I can see it immediately. My eyes will get puffy and I just don't want that anymore. So I drink very infrequently, and if I do it would only be Prosecco or wine or champagne. Never hard alcohol.


Is there anything that you wish you had done differently for your skin in your 20s, 30s or 40s?


When I was in my early 20s, I really stopped going out in the sun. I would wear a hat, I'd wear a sunblock. When I was maybe 13 or 14, we would use baby oil, but luckily, I was just never a sun person. I just feel very uncomfortable when I'm out in the sun. So there’s not much I wish I had done differently. I started using sunblock in my late teens, and I always apply it to my face, my neck and my hands and my arms.


You were ahead of your time. Is there a magic age that you felt the most confident in?


When you live your life and you're honest and you do the right thing, I think things just kind of fall into place. It’s about always being truthful and honest with yourself. How do you treat people? Are you kind to them? I try to wake up every day and just say, "God, whoever I interact with, just let me treat them kindly. And if I can make a difference in their life in some way, allow me to do that." So that's kind of how I've lived my life.


And what about your relationship with stress over the years? Have you always managed it well? Were there any times that have been more stressful?

After I had Jena, I suffered from postpartum depression for two years. I think when that happens, you have to do whatever you need to do—eliminate certain things, people, whatever— for that to never happen again. I'm not saying I haven't made some bad decisions in my life, but I've never experienced that again. And I think that what we eat and what we do with regard to exercise plays a big part in stress. I love my work. I think when you love what you do, that  keeps stress at bay as well.


And a little bit about motherhood. You became a mom for the first time to Jenna at 23 and then again 11 years later with your son Louis. How were those experiences different? What are your thoughts on having children two times in such different places in your life?


I was so young with Jena and I didn't have the worries as a younger mother. I miscarried a baby at six months before I had Louis, so I think I just got more cautious. But for me, being a mother, when they're little—babies and toddlers—I just think the biggest gift in life is motherhood.


What would be your biggest advice to mothers? Particularly ones starting out.


Take care of your body. Love your baby. Just cherish those years because they go so quickly. I loved nursing my children, it was miraculous. I nursed Jena until she was eight months old, then she decided she was done. I think that the bond that you have with your baby when you nurse is like no other.


That's beautiful. Thank you so much.