While backpacking through South America six years ago, Sam Anglis came across cacao husk tea during a visit to a small chocolate factory in Cusco, Peru.
He discovered the Mayans would use the husks of the cacao bean to make a chocolatey tea rich in antioxidants. The Mayans believed the tea had health benefits and would give power to their kings.
When he returned to New Zealand, he sought a supplier of the tea but came up empty handed as he discovered cacao husks are largely considered a by-product of the chocolate making industry.
“No one was offering cacao husk tea, and from there the idea snowballed,” Anglis reflects.
“They say the best time to start a business is when you have a job. So, I started Mayan Man while still working full-time in the Air Force as an aircraft maintenance engineer.
“I used my own money to start the business, and after about six months it had grown enough to justify leaving work and committing full-time to Mayan Man.”
Hitting its stride
Now in its sixth year of business, his business Mayan Man is hitting its stride.
“To have made it to this point has not been easy, and I am proud of that.”
Anglis says there have been challenges a plenty over the past six years.
“We have faced all the same problems any small business faces. But unique to Mayan Man would be the challenge of convincing consumers to try a new product.
“There are always new products entering the market, but often with multiple companies promoting the new trend, like Kombucha, but in our case, we were the only business out there promoting cacao husk tea.
“This has meant that we have had to solely promote cacao husk tea, which has been a slow process when you’re the only one doing it, but rewarding nonetheless.”
The business wasn’t overly disadvantaged by Covid-19, as it was able to operate during lockdown restrictions.
Anglis says the support the New Zealand public has shown towards small local businesses has been exceptional and helped alleviate downturns.
The Kiwi advantage
“It’s no secret the reputation New Zealand has around the world for producing quality products,” Anglis says.
“Being a small business in New Zealand I think has its advantages as there is so much support from fellow business owners and people working in the food and beverage industry, we’re a tight-knit community.”
While most of Mayan Man’s customer base is within New Zealand with 100% of its stockists being local, it does have overseas sales coming through our online store.
“Our tea has winged its way quite far around the world, including to Belgium, Canada, Sweden and Hong Kong.
“The demand is definitely there for some overseas retailers – we’ve had lots of enquiries from customers all around the world wanting us to stock in their country, Japan is a big fan.”
In July last year, Anglis moved the business from Wellington to Christchurch. Mayan Man operates out of a small factory in Sydenham where it processes and distributes its tea.
Its tea is available in select supermarkets throughout New Zealand, and smaller boutique stores – around 70 stores New Zealand-wide. It also features on the menu of several cafes and restaurants.
NZ Made Day on 21st November 2020 and is a day where you can support New Zealand businesses that make their products locally.
This year many eCommerce retailers are offering either Free Delivery or a Free Gift with purchase on NZMade Day.
Go on to the Buy NZ Made Instagram or search the Instagram hashtags #shopkiwi and #nzmadeday for businesses who are offering free delivery, a free gift with purchase or something else to entice you to buy on NZMade Day.
The 10 NZ Made products are from some of the participating ecommerce retailers offering Free Delivery or a Free Gift on NZ Made Day, so get ready to #shopkiwi.
During Level 3 lockdown, thousands of businesses owners were inundated with eCommerce orders as Kiwis went to support those who made products in New Zealand. NZ Made Day is your opportunity to make a difference again by through purchasing the products they’ve worked so hard to build, craft, sew or sculpt.
Covid has been a tough year. Let’s help Kiwi businesses finish strong and #shopkiwi on NZ Made Day.
Made from clear pine, sanded smooth, this elegant and simple activity frame is the perfect gift for any young baby. Featuring 3 sets of toys hanging from the frame made of food grade silicone beads in Mustard Yellow, Tui Blue, Marble, Grey, and natural Beech wood, providing a range of different textures, shapes and movable parts to keep your young one entertained.
If your bubba can’t get enough of wriggling around, try something new with a gorgeous play gym from Nik Nax on Gift Tree. Gift Tree are offering a FREE GIFT, this NZ Made Day.
For sore or dry lips, it doesn’t get much more soothing than a combination New Zealand’s superhero ingredient, mānuka honey, with the beauty of calendula. Combined, Hayley Benseman Skincare have created a gorgeous product that soothes and helps heal. The beautiful natural ingredients make it great for those who have sensitive skin.
Use it for yourself or for your kiddies as its all-natural and edible (we all know they lick most of it off anyway). Hayley Benseman are offering a FREE GIFT on NZ Made Day, so make sure you don’t miss out.
People have been milking sheep in many parts of the world for thousands of years, and it is now experiencing a strong resurgence in popularity. Studies suggest sheep milk may be a very good alternative for those who struggle with the digestion of cow’s milk or experience an upset stomach after drinking milk.
Spring Sheep Milk is made by Kiwi families for the world to enjoy, so why not give it a go in your Sunday pancakes. Spring Sheep are proud to offer FREE SHIPPING, this NZ Made Day.
Native Woodcraft is a family owned business specialising in decorative wooden panels with links to Ngāti Kahunguni and Te Atiawa. The designer panels are most often used in outdoor spaces, entertainment areas, playgrounds and even fencing. They often feature NZ Native birds so you can pick your favourite.
They’re made in Dannevirke out of high quality NZ pine and can be painted, stained, varnished or left a-la-natural. Native Woodcraft are also proud to offer FREE SHIPPING on NZ Made Day with code “NZMADE21”.
Newflands Hoki oil is a unique fish product that is high in Omegas from sustainably fished stock around the pristine waters of New Zealand. It is a lovely golden liquid which is easily digested when pumped over your pets’ food. Founder, Fiona Robertson decided to make Newflands after she couldn’t find any other option on the market and found that it helps her dogs’ joint health, coat shine and skin health.
Help your dog as it gets older with Newflands, they are also offering a FREE GIFT this NZ Made Day.
We’ve talked about mānuka honey and we’ve talked about milk, but what about a delightful combination of them both in soap form. Cleanse and moisturise your skin with this antibacterial mānuka honey and hydrating goats milk soap from Ahhh Bodycare.
Relax, draw a bath and indulge in this gorgeous soap on NZ Made Day. Ahhh Bodycare are proud to offer 25% off online during NZ Made Day.
Let’s be honest, do you really use your sit-stand desk? Or do you just leave it sitting or standing most of the time. It’s okay…it’s not you, it’s the desk. Limber’s innovative desk has been called the world’s healthiest desk by professors from UC Berkeley.
It’s because the desk moves as fast as you can, with a time-tested rope and pulley system that means you don’t have to wait for…..ever…..for the desk to move. Limber will offer FREE SHIPPING this NZ Made Day.
Studio 397 designs and manufactures an affordable range of quality outdoor garden art that will add colour and create atmosphere to any home, bach, fence or even your work space, and most importantly will not rust or break down. This cheeky Pīwakawaka (Fantail) is handpainted on a sign grade PVC with pāua eye detail.
Freshen up that outdoor space with a Fantail, or another native bird that strikes your fancy. Grab your Studio 397 art with FREE SHIPPING this NZ Made Day.
Grab a mixed crate of Pete’s Natural Sodas and enjoy NZ fruits in the summer sun. Pete’s Natural are a family owned business in sunny Motueka, the idyllic top of the south, close to the Abel Tasman National Park. Their passion is to be entirely natural.
Pete’s recipes are a closely guarded secret, tested many times with family and friends before the final delicious formula was nailed for the first delicious boutique lemonade back in 2009. Pete’s Natural are celebrating NZ Made Day with FREE SHIPPING and a 15% DISCOUNT.
It’s been a tough year for everyone, share a part of your Kiwi Christmas with someone special with a 12 Days of a New Zealand Christmas card from Little Paper Hugs! Each day features another bit of classic Kiwiana, like “Four Tūi’s Calling, Three Flat Whites, Two Buzzy Bees And A Kiwi In Native Bush.”
Little Paper Hugs are offering FREE SHIPPING for NZ Made Day to spread a little joy at the end of a hard Year.
It’s a familiar story in New Zealand: honey business achieves global success with its liquid gold.
However, few appreciate the sheer determination that goes into making a honey business float.
What sets Kai Ora Honey apart is staying true to its Māori values and its focus on connections.
“Real connections do not change in crisis,” chief executive Blanche Morrogh says.
New Zealand’s $49 million honey export market was not immune to the threat of Covid-19 as supply chains and logistics faced significant disruption. Fortunately for the sector, demand for natural food products increased through the period.
Despite the uncertainty, Kai Ora is holding true to its Tikanga Māori values, instilled in Morrogh through her father, who introduced her to beekeeping and the fast-growing Manuka honey industry.
“As a Māori family living in a rural community honey was a realistic opportunity for us.
“Our Māori Culture sets us apart and gives a deep connection in today global markets.”
The business sells about 40% of its products locally and 60% overseas.
While it has seen a steady growth in export demand, domestically, it had been supplying mainly tourist-based locations, so its domestic revenue stream is 90% down on same time last year.
Despite this, Morrogh says its ability to be adaptable and pivot to deliver a diverse range of products from the hive have added value to the business.
Kai Ora has made significant investments recently like creating a natural skincare range, natural sanitiser range and wellness products from the hive.
While these investments are having a high cash burn rate, she expects it to bring significant return soon.
Morrogh says the biggest challenges Kai Ora has faced has been in terms of its structure and investment.
“Taking on investment is difficult without having to manage family. We found once we took away the emotion, culture and heritage links and access who is right for each role – not ‘you have a role because your family’ – we began to fly.”
Morrogh says businesses should think hard about who they partner with.
Kai Ora had support from the Māori Investment Fund and NZTE’s Market Validation Fund. In addition, Poutama has been Kai Ora’s biggest supporter to date not only financially investing in the business, but also investing into its networks to collaborate and expand opportunities for export.
“If you take on investment make sure your values and goals align – especially if you succeed at an exponential rate, success can change perspectives.
“But most importantly, make sure you build an authentic business and good core values that are relative to your product or service.”
She says being a Māori business has had significant advantages.
“Without these cultural principles our authentic and trusted position would be compromised.”
After winning the 2017 Young Māori Business Leader Award, Blanche Morrogh told the crowd, “relationships lead to success, no matter how technical or automated this world becomes, opportunities come through people.”
The Timaru-based Templeton family is building a custard square legacy, which they hope will see it become a global brand.
Denheath was originally a café, which Lisa Templeton’s parents purchased in 1996 because they loved the custard square.
Lisa’s mother Carol loved the custard square so much she believed it had potential to be sold worldwide.
In 1999, when Carol became terminally ill, husband and wife team Donald and Lisa stepped in to run the business.
The pair promised Carol they would take Denheath nationwide and international.
In 2000, it was a single product company.
“A big unique fluffy custard square, the classic Kiwi treat that started it all,” Lisa says.
It has since broadened into desserts and supplies foodservice and retail stores nationwide and exports overseas.
Its online sales have grown year after year and show no signs of slowing.
The challenge of growth
With the business continually growing and Donald and Lisa constantly looking for more opportunities, challenges arose.
“There have been many challenges in the 20-years we have run Denheath,” Lisa says.
“Our recent big challenge was getting certified with a dairy RMP so we can continue to export.
“Red tape can be crazy. Likewise export paperwork with new export customers can be extremely difficult and challenging.”
Covid-19 lockdown meant Denheath was not able to supply any foodservice customers and some retailers, some of which will not reopen.
The duo was also progressing several potential export opportunities that were halted as those overseas economies suffered via lockdowns.
The pair are thankful they’ve had support from NZTE, friends, family and custard loving followers.
Their advice for budding entrepreneurs is to seek and adopt advice as much as possible.
“Look for people who have already had some experience in the fields you are working in and ask for advice.
“Work with NZTE and any government agencies, industry organisations and local Chamber of Commerce’s. Businesses will need guidance to help grow.”
In addition, Lisa says “stay positive and back yourselves.”
Being a Kiwi company means Denheath is able to access and use ingredients of the highest quality, Lisa says.
“We are able to love what we do and work in beautiful Timaru and have a port at our door for export. New Zealand is trusted internationally and sought after.
“Also, kiwi companies are more likely to work together, collaborate and help each other along the way.”
For the Templetons, Denheath’s success is grounded in late Carol’s vision:
“My mother had a dream that Denheath and her custard squares would become nationally and internationally known and we are continually working hard to make it happen for her.
“If we were corporate enough to ever write a mission statement, achieving her dream would be it.”
When medical herbalist and health scientist Sandra Clair settled in Dunedin from Switzerland and decided to start a health clinic in 1995, she was surprised that plant or herbal medicines were not an option in New Zealand’s mainstream health system.
“They were almost nowhere to be found,” she recalls.
Since launching her brand Artemis in 1998, she has played a key role in the growing acceptance of plant-based medicine in New Zealand.
She says medicinal plants have unique active compounds with scientifically confirmed effectiveness to treat common ailments – including reducing anxiety, improving sleep, aiding digestion, and assisting with immunity and detoxification.
Artemis wasn’t so much a big bright idea but emerged out of demand from her clients.
“I am an accidental entrepreneur. My clients asked me to start retailing the products that I was prescribing for them and I was happy to do so.”
Launching a global health brand hasn’t been without its challenges.
She says unlike in Australia, Canada, the EU and Switzerland, New Zealand’s current Medicines Act 1981 does not permit legitimate health claims or the discussion of scientific results.
So, it is difficult to communicate the benefits of New Zealand’s medicinal plants, even if they are scientifically proven.
In addition, New Zealand has not yet established a strong medicinal herb growing industry as is the case in Europe, where local governments subsidise organic agriculture to provide pesticide and herbicide free medicinal plants.
Clair says as we look to rebuild New Zealand’s economy, more investment in R&D around locally-grown plants would open up opportunities to establish new markets for premium Kiwi-made products for the global stage.
The company is working towards a model where 10% of Artemis sales are local and 90% in overseas markets, mostly China.
While 2020 has thrown curveballs, Artemis is now benefiting from the early economic recovery in China.
“The year has been anything but predictable and we are riding with agility the rollercoaster that is our world with Covid as best we can.”
The early outbreak in China disrupted business and caused the opening of its Tmall Flagship store to be delayed.
That set Artemis back in its build-up to the important peak selling season and winter in China.
“There are definitely challenges, with closures during periods of lockdown among our New Zealand retail partners, and with the costs of international freight.”
But as a smaller business, it has been nimble, resilient and able to adapt.
“A good example of how we’ve adapted is with the freight cost challenge. Our hero export product for China is Artemis Thyme Lemon Tonic, packaged in a heavy 250ml glass bottle.
“We knew we needed to find a better way, so we worked with our manufacturing partners to create a lightweight single serve sachet format, boxed in convenient quantities.”
The business is two years into a three-year project with funding from Callaghan Innovation, working with Plant & Food Research at the University of Otago that evaluates the properties of fresh Central Otago Thyme extracts.
In 2019 Artemis received an NZTE International Growth Fund grant to support its China growth plan.
Clair says there are several benefits to being a Kiwi exporter, including access to incredible natural resources and the reputation and standards that New Zealand has as an export business.
But being a Kiwi company can also be a challenge as the market is small and the geographical distance can be tough.
Clair has some strong advice for other Kiwi exporters and entrepreneurs.
“Look at opportunities in a global context. Be clear and honest about where your business has true competitive advantage on a global scale.
“Tap into expertise early and listen. Really listen. Define your end users and identify why they need what your business is good at, and what is important to them.”
Selecting a board that helps to reduce knowledge gaps is crucial, she says.
“Last, but definitely not least, you need tenacity.”
Best mask for breathability – True Fleece
Best mask for comfort – Ahipao by Waiheke Cashmere, BONZ
Best mask for protection – Untouched World, BONZ, Cactus Outdoors
Best mask for fashion – Mountain Country, Tussock Ridge, Untouched World
Best mask for exercise (cold weather) – Cactus Outdoors
Best mask for exercise (hot weather) – True Fleece
Head strap V ear strap winner – Head strap
Filter V no filter winner – Filter
Untouched World $19.95 to $79
True Fleece $25
Ahipao by Waiheke Cashmere, $22.50
Cactus Outdoors $45
True Fleece $25
Mountain Country $25
Tussock Ridge $19.95
These Helix Filters are kind of a big deal. They are made by Lanaco and are designed capture the tiniest dangerous airborne particles.
This same tech has been scientifically developed for industrial, medical and respiratory health sectors and has been chosen by NASA for critical life support in the next manned exploration to the moon.
Using one filter insert will capture more than 80% of particles 3 micron and larger. Protection levels increase to 95% with the use of two filters.
In addition, the HELIX Filter has extremely low breathing resistance, making it exceptionally easy to breathe through.
The first mask we looked at is one from Untouched World – the first fashion company in the world to be recognised by the United Nations for sustainability.
It has a few masks to choose from including a simple, double-layer surgical style Pleat Masks in merino and organic cotton for just $19.95, a nano knit mask for $69 and a technical HELIX iso Filter Mask for $79.
The Helix face mask, which is comfortable beyond belief. It is made from two layers of organic cotton. A flexible nose bridge can be moulded to ensure a good fit and toggles can be adjusted to ensure elastic ear loops fit well.
Both masks are exceptionally comfortable and breathable I wore one on the bus this morning and didn’t touch my face once. There is a significant difference between the two – unsurprisingly, I found the Helix mask to be more breathable and just felt better protected. The pleat masks are a bargain at $19.95 and as I said can be washed and endlessly reused.
This little beauty is made by True Fleece.
This double-layer surgical style cloth face mask is made from soft breathable, merino wool cloth. This mask offers light protection and acts as a great reminder not to touch your face. It’s machine washable for easy care, it is endlessly reusable.
I’m a big fan of merino wool cloth. It is a naturally lightweight, sustainable, recyclable and biodegradable. With its breathability it’s perfect for any season, keeping you cool in the warmer weather and toasty warm in the cooler weather.
Merino wool cloth is fantastically soft and itch-free. For someone with eczema like me, it works especially well.
True Fleece’s merino cloth face masks are made from 92% ultra-fine natural merino fibre, which means it is super soft against your skin.
There’s some elastic at the back which gives it a snug fit. I can’t feel any air escaping from either the top or bottom of the mask.
For $25, I’m impressed.
The next one is by BONZ, a Queenstown-based clothing company founded in the 1980s.
BONZ is your quintessential Kiwi clothing company providing high quality, its products are sustainably produced, New Zealand designed and made– which is primarily knitted.
It has 14 stores throughout Australia, a testament to the quality of the clothing it produces. Its seamless merino reusable knitted facemask has an odour resistant and breathable merino outer layer, with an organic cotton inner lining for comfort and durability. The mask also features a metal nose bridge to make a tight seal on your face.Combining its premium merino yarns natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, and the PM 2.5 filter, our Merino Facemask is a good defence against any airborne germs.
The Merino Facemask will protect you from pollutants and keep you warm while exercising, commuting, shopping and travelling It is machine washable and will last 50 or more cycles. These are $39.
Ahipao by Waiheke Cashmere
This business prides itself on creating garments that are sustainably made and natural. Because all our fibres are created by nature rather than in a petrochemical laboratory, every product is naturally renewable, recyclable and biodegradable.
These super soft and sustainably made masks are 3D knitted (no hand-stitching or cutting) which allows us to eliminate any waste during production.
It’s a simple, seamless design which is very comfortable. It comes in various sizes and colours and is double-layered, allowing for a filter to be placed inside.The ear strap might not be quite as effective as a head strap over time, but it is an incredibly comfortable mask you could literally fall asleep in.
Allanah from AhiPao says being listed on the Buy NZ Masks page has led to a huge increase in sales. The business has gone from 0 sales to 50 or more which has been a lifeline for the company.
The next mask is made by Cactus Outdoors, a well-known New Zealand business that has been around for 28 years. It goes without saying that everything Cactus produces is very high quality and long-lasting.
This time Cactus has teamed up Lanaco to produce an impressive mask for $45.
The wool filter it has used is designed to be more than twice as easy to breathe through than standard masks. This is very important since most N95 masks are very difficult to breathe through.
It’s designed it to seal snugly around the face for superior protection and it includes an adjustable nose-wire to form a protective seal.
This one takes a bit more effort to get on due to the tie, but for the physical activity it is superior than elastic. It also looks fantastic!
This Tussock Ridge merino mask is one of the best looking I’ve come across.
The merino is also incredibly comfortable. It comes in several different colours and is a real bargain at $19.95. It’s no surprise that Tussock Ridge sold out of these recently but now they are back in stock.
The double fabric layers will protect against unwanted particles and moisture. It is incredibly easy to breathe through. The merino is soft and doesn’t irritate the skin; is naturally anti-bacterial, stain-resistant and won’t hold odours. It is a breathable fabric that naturally expels moisture.
The only thing I’ll say is that it comes in both small and large. This one is large and there is a bit of room under the neck. I have a pretty slim face so would opt for the small version.
Mountain Country’s high-end products are all designed, knitted and manufactured on-site in Auckland and are crafted from premium Possum, Merino wool and Mulberry silk yarns grown in New Zealand.
So this mask is designed and made in New Zealand, it’s washable, comfortable and reusable.
The inner and outer layers are made from Mountain Country’s trademarked Triple-Tech fabric manufactured inhouse using performance-proven sports fibre yarns.
This mask is soft against the skin, and very breathable, and is fitted with an adjustable nose piece. Its reusable face masks are designed to be used on their own or fitted with replaceable HELIX filters.
The mask is $25, so again for something of the quality I wouldn’t think twice about spending that amount. That’s one meal in Wellington or Auckland these days.
Pattrick Smellie is co-founder of BusinessDesk and in this 180 degree interview reversal, Ryan gets to interview a journalist on how BusinessDesk got started, getting your business into the news, why post election every business will need a trusted source on news for policy impacts and how to get into becoming a news journalist.
In this wide ranging interview, we cover the belief BusinessDesk had when setting up, that traditional news publishers doing news for free wasn’t a path for BusinessDesk, how businesses can get in to the news (or stay out of the news!) and why it can be better to tell your story than keep it under wraps. Pattrick also shares why businesses wanting coverage should be willing to take risks, to say things that are real when talking with journalists and be prepared to invest in building relationships with journalists.
David Percy, Founder of Pertronic has been interested in technology and manufacturing for 4+ decades, turning his hobby into a substantial New Zealand business employed over 100 Kiwi’s. In this episode we discuss why David Percy does what he does, how the increased availability of electronic components has helped upgrade the display features of building fire protection systems and how fire prevention systems have improved.
The Pertronic team includes 157 people across New Zealand and Pertronic shares how they are competing for talent and their advantage of being based in Wellington to attract talent from the factory floor all the way up to the computer scientists.
Pertronic has recently invested in building bigger premises after the existing production building was bursting at the seams.
“It’s got to be bulletproof” according to David Percy. The importance of testing is at the heart of what Pertronic Fire Protection Systems is all about. “Everything is about testing, testing, testing. Essentialy it’s got to be bulletproof when it leaves here. With some other product if you read all sorts of R&D things, you’ll see ‘fail fast’ and so on and sometimes products are put out into the market where there are known bugs but essentially that’s not an option that’s available to us.”
Business mentors will tell you the missteps are proof that you’re trying or making progress.
But for Blush Gin founders Elliot McClymont and Chris Thomas the idea that led to their business was pure coincidence.
“One evening Chris was making a rhubarb crumble, we infused the rhubarb into the gin and the idea never went away.”
Sensing the uniqueness of the rhubarb-gin, the pair seized the opportunity to launch a whole range of infused and flavoured gins.
“We didn’t realise pink gin would be the next big thing.”
The business grew organically from a kitchen bench hobby, to having over 250 retailers nationwide.
They self-funded the business early on and relied on sales to drive cashflow, refusing to draw any profits out of the business for almost two years.
“With any entrepreneur having ‘skin in the game’ makes it very real, you fight for growth when you’ve pumped your life savings into something,” McClymont says.
However, as with all small business, the journey hasn’t been without growing pains. Scaling up was the first major challenge.
Its first commercial run was 60 bottles but after strong sales it quickly needed to grow by 900%.
McClymont says Covid-19 “completely derailed” Blush Gin’s plans for UK export, where gin sales have taken off in recent years.
The company had spent a year building a foundation to allow it to cope with export demands in the lead up to Covid.
“We are still wanting to focus on export, but the market jitters have importers quite hesitant.
“We are working around this and looking at launching internationally direct to consumer through third-party logistics.”
Its target is to be 20% export-driven for this fiscal year but the pair say brand loyalty remains strong in New Zealand, and that’s what they are most proud of.
“We have a wonderful audience of end-users who champion our brand and believe in us.”
McClymont’s advice for entrepreneurs is to think of decisions as if you were reading your own biography.
“Would you want to read the next page if the last sentence said, “I didn’t take the risk?”
He says it’s important to be realistic about risks but also back yourself.
“You can do anything; you’ve just got to try. I’m a big believer in learn from your mistakes, it’s not wasted time, but time spent on self-development.”
He says New Zealand has a great brand overseas, and Kiwi’s should leverage it.
“It also helps to be a small nimble company; we can launch new products in weeks. Test on a small scale and learn from that. It’s very Kiwi to think outside the box and make things work.”
Brianne West is on a roll.
At the start of 2019, her beauty bar business Ethique was stocked by 900 retailers. By March next year, that’s expected to be about 6000 globally.
Annual sales have grown by 300% and it has just entered the UK market via a significant partnership with Holland & Barrett, which has 840 retail stores.
It doesn’t end there.
After partnering with US online pharmacy Pharmapacks in 2017, Ethique became one of the top-selling shampoos on Amazon.
But importantly for West, the company’s achievements have not only been financial.
Since 2012, it has prevented more than 3.4 million plastic bottles from being manufactured and disposed of. Ethique is the world’s first full-range beauty brand to be zero-waste.
While studying biology at University of Canterbury, West taught herself cosmetic chemistry from scratch.
“Seven years later, I’m still running the world’s first zero-waste beauty and lifestyle brand and, incredibly, Ethique is still the only full-range ‘solid’ beauty brand and is available in more than 14 countries.”
West decided to create ‘solid’ beauty products after discovering shampoos and conditioners are made up of mostly water.
“Simply put, I wanted to create a product that wouldn’t leave a trace on this earth – including its packaging, which is biodegradable,” she says.
The value-driven entrepreneur once removed a top selling product from the range because she could no longer source an ingredient sustainably.
“At times it is back to the lab to figure out how we can move forward with a product that doesn’t compromise our values,” she says.
She says New Zealand has been a “fantastic” place to start Ethique.
“I have never been short on support whether it be from mentors, banks, manufacturers, shareholders and others.”
West says surrounding herself with people who believed in her idea has been key to Ethique’s success.
“Even if they’re not an expert in your industry, being able to bounce ideas off someone else is very useful and adds an outside perspective.”
She says it’s important not to over-plan.
“Put a simple plan on a page and get started – and don’t ignore the financial side of things.
“If you wait until your product is perfect, you’ve waited too long to launch. As the saying goes, ‘if you are not embarrassed by your first product, you waited too long’.”
West successfully used crowdfunding platform PledgeMe for two capital raises.
Since then, she has never been short on support from mentors, banks, manufacturers or shareholders.
She says her parents, in particular, have been “hugely supportive” and her mum has worked alongside her from the start.
In the past couple of years, one of her mentors, Tristan Roberts, took a strong interest in the business and came out of retirement to work as Ethique’s chief operating officer.
“I don’t think the brand would be where it is without these successful people in my life to take advice from when it comes to leading the business in the right direction, especially now since we’re on a global scale.”
West says the company’s future is in overseas markets, which in 2016 represented just 1% of sales. Overseas sales are now about 65% and forecast to be more than 75% in a year.
The future will see constant innovation, with 20 new products on the horizon.
West says those will allow the brand to go beyond beauty counters and pharmacy shelves, into supermarkets and pet stores.