Natural skincare poised for export - Waikato Times

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A Hamilton organic skincare company is poised to make its first strategic venture into export markets.

NZ Skincare Company, whose premises are by Hamilton Lake, manufactures natural skincare products for women and men. From next week, the first orders of its organically certified range, geoskincare, will head to Britain and Australia.

The company started life as a kitchen-table enterprise by Penny Vergeest, at the time a stay-at-home mum. In the 10 years since its inception, it has grown from a one-person enterprise to an employer of eight people, with a turnover in the past financial year of $400,000, Vergeest says.

The company has focused on building a solid domestic customer base, supplying beauty clinics, pharmacies and health stores throughout New Zealand, before deciding to venture overseas.

Vergeest says the company is making a profit "slowly but surely", and aims to make an impact overseas. Distributors have been selected who share a similar philosophy  a commitment to genuine natural products, she says.

The company is also working toward entry into the Chinese market within six months, after more than two years of preparation.

"The Asian markets are very different  how they market and distribute, where and how customers buy. We need to fit their framework rather than trying to change their methods for our products."

The company will seek a high-profile Chinese makeup artist to promote the geoskincare range through a celebrity endorsement website.

Vergeest says regulatory requirements are challenging in all markets, because the organic beauty industry is still relatively new.

"Unfortunately, no country has the same requirements. Every time we look to go into a new country, we have to submit screeds more paperwork than if we were selling chemical products. That's because people are generally more familiar with chemicals than with natural products."

A beauty therapist by training, Vergeest's interest in building her own business was sparked when she worked in beauty clinics in Hamilton. She noticed many clients could not afford the imported products sold at the clinics, so she researched local ingredients for her own skincare range  including geothermal silica, a natural ingredient from Rotorua.

Her first range was launched in 2001, with products about NZ$30 each. Today they carry a recommended retail price of up to NZ$40 each.

About three years ago, Vergeest decided the only way she could prove her ingredients were all natural was to seek independent organic certification. For certification, products have to be made in a chemical-free environment so Vergeest bought a small Hamilton factory that had been used to make handcrafted soap. With all products reformulated, using minerals from New Zealand geothermal regions, pure extracts and organic oils, the company achieved organic certification and re-launched in the domestic retail market in April last year.

Vergeest says she is looking forward to taking her products to the world  demand for certified organic products is growing, in New Zealand and overseas

- Waikato Times

19 Sep, 2011

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