During a trip overseas, school teacher, Jenny Agnew, realised that her home country, New Zealand, had very little to offer visitors to take back that would really reflect the beauty and cultural perks that make the country unique. Inspired to change that, she created a range of creams and aromas using rare New Zealand ingredients.
Recently launching the Banks & Co Botanicals collection of creams and aromas in Australia, owner of Pacifica Skincare, Jenny Agnew’s journey as an entrepreneur has not been easy, but nonetheless one driven by patriotism and a love of nature.
When asked about the push that got her started, Agnew recalled a time in the late 1990s when she was in England. There were a lot of souvenirs she could bring back home to New Zealand that would remind her of her stay in England. This got her thinking about her home country. She realised how little New Zealand had to offer people who may want to take back something as a souvenir or gift that really reflected the perks that make New Zealand unique.
“There was very little that spoke about who we were as a country. There was nothing that you could take home that had New Zealand ingredients, that reflected our culture and our way of life. And that really motivated me to start Pacific Skincare,” said Agnew.
Pacifica Skincare uses natural ingredients from New Zealand and South Pacific areas. The base ingredient that they use – Meadowfoam oil – is extracted from one of the rarest plants in the Southern Hemisphere, only found in two locations including Chile and New Zealand.
“We use a lot of native extracts, and we buy our ingredients from a woman based in the middle of the North Island who hand gathers the herbs and distils them. Our ingredients really represent New Zealand,” said Agnew.
She went on to explain another one of Pacifica Skincare’s unique traits – its packaging. The design on the boxes are traditional, impressionist paintings by the company’s in-house designer.
“The other thing that is quite unique about our products is its packaging. We have an in-house designer and she hand-paints the design on our packaging. So it’s more personal, more sentimental,” said Agnew.
Some of the chief ways Agnew markets her business is through trade shows, public relations (PR) and word-of-mouth, while social media is also a tool being used to reach out to people. Using social media, however, has been a challenge because unless there is someone to handle social media interactions all day everyday, other jobs take priority.
“We’re a small team, and other things take priority like getting the orders in and out. But doing more interactive social media is definitely one of the plans for the future. We’re also looking a lot more at export, so we really do need to be more proactive on the social media front to help reach out to other markets. We’ve just registered the business here in Australia, and we’re looking to grow in other countries as well, particularly Japan and Korea,” said Agnew.
The main reason Agnew decided to expand her business to Australia is because of the size of the market. She said it’s the only way for a small business to grow.
“New Zealand is quite a small market. In order for us to grow, we need to be able to have bigger markets. Sydney alone is the same population of the whole of New Zealand. So we’re trying to reach out to more people in more countries,” she said.
Agnew’s words of encouragement to other small business owners is, “Never give up. Starting a business is about hard work and perseverance It’s about making relationships work. It’s about providing excellent customer service, and keeping in touch with your customer base.”
She went on to provide a valuable piece of advice to other women, encouraging them to stay put if they have a vision and to not be discouraged by accounting jargon.
“Don’t be put off by the bank’s accountant speech. I think a lot of women tend to get confused by accountants, the jargon they use, and all the rules and regulations around [starting a business]. People are going to tell you what to do all the time, and what you should be doing. I think if you have a vision, stay firm and don’t get discouraged.”
For more information visit Pacifica Skincare’s official website.