Hawke’s Bay has more than its fair share of innovators in the health, beauty and skincare brigade. Meet three leaders of local beauty businesses that are in different markets, serving different customers, each with a different approach. Together, they share a passion for what they do, for innovation, and for making the lives of the customers that use their products that much better.
Louise Harvey is the founder of Holy Moly (holymolyskincare.com), a just-launched natural skincare business targeting mostly teens. Harvey and an Auckland-based friend launched the business a year ago, under a different name. She explains that with her co-founder working full-time in Auckland there came a time where one of them needed to take the reins. And that’s when Holy Moly was born.
“Things needed to be changed up,” says Harvey.
“I felt we needed a brand and packaging that was more empowering and fun for teens. The product stayed the same. We had worked with a formulator and researched the market for about eight months before we launched the business.
“It took me about four months with the rebrand to go live. It was a big leap and one that I’m super proud of. People love the new name, Holy Moly; it seems to bring a smile to people’s face when they say it.”
Holy Moly is deliberately gender neutral; cleverly appealing to the maximum possible market.
As a small business owner Harvey says there are lots of difficult first steps. She says it often feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day, but she’s learned a few lessons along the way.
“I’ve learnt that you need to make quicker decisions. When we were creating the range we sat on our first test batch for a while before we asked people to try it. I think I was too nervous to ask anyone just in case they said it wasn’t any good. It wasn’t until Greta, my teen daughter, said she liked it – in a short, sharp teen way – that I was confident to start talking about it.”
Holy Moly is founded in simplicity, with an ethos that everything included in its products should have a reason. Using fillers or tiny amounts of ingredients that won’t do anything just didn’t pass muster, says Harvey.
“We worked with natural formulators to make sure that our products include everything you need, and nothing you don’t. Using native plants like mānuka and kawakawa oils was always an important part of our product formulation. Holy Moly uses 100% pure mānuka oil 20+ which has health properties to help keep skin clean and clear of bacteria that can cause skin problems like acne, pimples and blemishes.
“We also wanted people to be able to read the label and understand what was in the product. Our thinking is parents would prefer to try a natural skincare option first for their tween and teens.”
Harvey’s background is in marketing. Her goal for the brand is to grow Holy Moly to be the ‘go to’ natural teen skincare brand.
“We have plans to grow the range and have a few ideas that are in the pipeline. Right now we are building brand awareness and engagement to reach our teen and parent target audience.”
Although it’s only been a few weeks since launch, customer feedback has been really positive, says Harvey.
“I regularly talk to customers and understand how they have found the products. From what I can see there are two main camps for teens; those that are great at routine and use the product all the time and then there are those that need reminding to clean their face, which can be a frustration to parents.
“Personally I love the face wash and pink clay mask. The mask is a great product you can use for teens and adults. For teens it helps to clear and brighten skin and for adults it is great to help with fine lines. It’s a win:win.”
Harvey says that daughter Greta has been a fantastic sounding board. “Like most daughters, they will tell you exactly what they think, which has been helpful along the way.
“She uses the products, but is one of those teens that need reminding … to clean their face,” says Harvey.
Over in Hastings, Real World (realworldnz.com) – a plant-based essentials business for body and home – will celebrate its sixth birthday early next year.
Founder Nicola Mossman says she had always planned to start another business.
Real World incorporates native plants in its formulations. The range includes skin-friendly dishwash and kitchen spray, nourishing hand creams, and skin and body wash. Mossman says native plants have so many skin benefits. Her plan is to “share these with the world.”
The brand has its origins in Mossman’s dry and damaged hands.
“When your hands are sore, everyday tasks become painful and I wasn’t going to put up with it any longer.
“I wanted to create a natural plant-based range of products specifically for your hands that contained no harsh chemicals as I was sure that was what was drying my hands out. So Real World New Zealand was born.”
Since the second year of the business, Mossman has made all the products herself and overseen production in the last year.
“It was a very steep learning curve but looking back it was essential. It’s really important that we make it all in house and I am aware of the entire process, from formulation, trialling, making, marketing, and selling. I never enjoyed science at school but when it’s a critical component of your business you can learn to do it pretty quickly!”
She has a clear direction for the brand, which inspires product development. How she wants to live and the essentials she likes to use in her home that make everyday living more enjoyable, are other influences on the ever expanding range.
“We bring some love and luxury to everyday life with a range of beautifully considered essentials for the body and home. Made locally with heart, soul and simple, natural ingredients, our products provide restorative care for real homes and real lives.”
Real World is based in Hastings, with manufacturing and a retail outlet, and a second retail site in Napier’s Tennyson Street opened during 2020.
Everything is made at Real World’s Hastings base, says Mossman.
“We have bought the building next door, and are expanding into this space and will have our manufacturing here. We have completely outgrown where we are so we are looking forward to moving in early 2022. We are based alongside the Tribune space and have so many visitors from out of town looking for a piece of Hawke’s Bay to take away with them.”
Real World sales are a mix of retail, hospitality, lodges and cafés, and Mossman says that sales growth has been “promising”. As for new product development, Real World has just released a line of four beautiful solid soap bars. There’s “Soap on a Rope” in the works and Mossman promises exciting new products in 2022. For those new to the brand and interested to give it a try the company’s biggest seller is the Restore Harakeke & Blood Orange range; a favourite with most of her customers.
Over in industrial Onekawa, you’ll find collagen company Adashiko (adashiko.com). The company is owned by entrepreneur and health enthusiast Luci Firth, who bought the business from its founder, in 2015.
Adashiko are pioneers of collagen in New Zealand, with its product made to its own specifications. Through the ageing process, our bodies lose collagen, skin loses its elasticity, and becomes prone to damage, increased wrinkles and sagging. Adashiko (100% natural, high potency peptide collagen) self describes as “holistic beauty from the inside out”.
Readers of a certain vintage might remember Remington Razor’s Victor Kiam’s strapline: “I liked it so much I bought the company!” and that’s exactly what happened with Firth and Adashiko.
The story goes that Firth (in her guise as a graphic designer) was working with Adashiko founder Yuko and her husband Chase with the branding, which then led to sales work.
Firth was using Adashiko collagen herself, and had the most incredible results. “Friends and family could see the benefits that I was experiencing. They were all asking me what I was doing differently. I became so passionate about the products and that shone through.”
She took over the business in May 2015.
In the past six years, Firth has expanded the product range from two collagen powder formulas to what it is today – supplements, as well as skincare, and a collagen water, combining Adashiko collagen with water from local company Parkers.
The product development journey started with a trip to Japan, not long after Firth came on board as owner.
“I met the team at our pharmaceutical company where I started developing our Joint Collagen Formula, which came about from the incredible results I had received for myself following a knee surgery (a netball injury).
“I was back on the court in three weeks which the surgeons said was amazing. I recovered so well. Plus feedback from customers using the Ultra powder was rolling in. We had people who suffered from arthritis and joint issues, with ongoing joint pain, getting relief.”
Firth then developed a specific formula with key ingredients for joint inflammation and lubrication, followed by the skincare line, which now has nine products in the range. Adashiko’s customers are from all over the world and the business currently has 150 stockists throughout New Zealand and some further afield in Australia and the United States.
An incredible support network plays a massive part in her business and its success, says Firth.
“I am very fortunate to have two business mentors; and very lucky to have one of them as part of my family. The hours he dedicates to Adashiko and myself, I will be forever grateful for,” she says.
As for the future, Firth wants to keep expanding the skincare range and look at more internal health products.
“I have goals to expand our stockist range into Australia, but sadly Covid put this on pause last year. It is something we will continue to work on and when we can travel again we will bring this to the life.”
New products in development include an incredible SPF50 broad spectrum sunscreen, that Firth has been working on for two years. There is also an Adashiko Discovery kit which include minis of the skincare range which should be launched in a few months.
“We are working on a Collagen Mist and more exciting products, but you will just have to watch the space,” she says.
That’s just a peek at the wealth of talent, inspiration, and perspiration behind Hawke’s Bay’s beauty brigade.
Other members of the Hawke’s Bay beauty brigade
• Corbin Road
• Millstream Gardens
• Cushla Herbalist
• And amidst a plethora of salons and clinics, no one beats Andrea Napier (Andrea’s) for longevity!
Photo: Florence Charvin