Jojoba, Emu oil, Kalihari melon, Moringa, Mustard, Buriti, oils of the Amazon, Frankincense … No, this isn’t a lesson in a new language but a tiny sample of the exotic potions offered by Titirangi couple Kerry and Sue Good through their company Pure Ingredients.
The pair started the company in their home in 2006, melting lanolin in the bath and packing product on their kitchen table to supply pure natural ingredients to the cosmetic industry.
Now with a team of 16, a Glendene warehouse, a new Henderson showroom and on-line arm, PureNature, they’re meeting the needs of many of New Zealand’s leading skin care and cosmetic manufacturing companies. Kerry says the company’s main business is selling product to companies which want to make things to sell to other people.
Many of the big brands’ high-end natural skincare products will most likely contain some of our ingredients. That whole sector continues to grow on New Zealand’s reputation of being a clean, green place. That branding is very powerful and while we aren’t exporting directly, our business is growing on the back of companies exporting to China and India.
It’s a massive market, Kerry says, where the demand for good quality Western products is virtually insatiable. “There’s a fear of anything that’s not pure. Chinese tourists take New Zealand manuka honey and skincare products containing manuka honey back home with them. Anything with lanolin in it – with the sheep connection – sells well too.
“There’s a lot of indirect export through gift and souvenir shops with some of them doing six-figures a month in sales, especially to Asian tourists.”
The big consumer appetite for natural skincare doesn’t just lie with tourists. The growing number of people wanting to make their own balms and massage oils saw the company establish PureNature in 2011. The on-line customer base of more than 12,000 is growing every month. Many of these customers are making their own products in an ‘artisan sort of way’, with many selling through markets.
“People want natural things. They want to make their own skincare products and know what’s going into them; they might have allergies or don’t want to use preservatives. They want to know they’re safe,” Kerry says.
“We’ve seen spectacular growth in the sales of natural products – vegetable oils, essential oils, waxes, butters, extracts, natural preservatives and emulsifiers – and new products are being discovered all the time. Nobody would have heard of Kalihari melon oil until about a year ago and cacay oil is a big newcomer too.”
Kerry was introduced to cacay oil during a trip to South America earlier this year. “It’s the successor to rosehip oil which everyone loves. It’s very high in retinol and Vitamin E and the South American suppliers are selling it into
Europe by the tonne.”
Rose oil has long been considered the liquid gold queen of essences in a big-dollar stable that includes neroli, helicrysum, jasmine and melissa. They’re labour intensive: 1,600,000 rose blossoms make 1kg of rose oil. Their price and quality reflect that.
Kerry often travels the world checking that the products he’s sourcing are pure. Pure Ingredients is a certified organic business and works within a quality accreditation programme. Each supplier is scrutinised and Kerry says his company is scrupulous about who they purchase from. “It’s a rigorous process.”
Not all Pure Ingredients products are imported though. With an increasing interest in Rongoa Maori the company uses our unique flora to hand-make products from kowhai extract, kawakawa, kumarahou, koromiko, horopito and others.
“We have a passion for the business,” says Kerry. “We’re not some here today and gone tomorrow place. It’s been hard work for 10 years and we love it, live it and breathe it. It’s all-consuming and a nice business to be in. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything different.”
And with that Kerry returns to his potions, balms and essential essences … strawberry seed, passionflower, baobab, bergamot, peppermint, eucalyptus. There are more than 1,000 of them.
– originally published in The Fringe