The notion of 'natural' is becoming more and more important in the makeup/beauty world, and though earth 174° boasts is has no synthetically made chemicals, one other attribute is extremely important in appealing to potential customers.
"The key is the products have to smell good, as well as being good for you," says earth 174° (Wellington's longitude) director, Kareen Holland. "Smell is an essence of who you are , and generally, people love the smell of our products."
The movie industry make up artist veteran became increasingly interested in the formulation of
products during stints in Zena, Hercules and 'The Strip'. Some of these actors, and stunt stand-ins,
spend all day, every day in what is often heavy make up. Many of them were finding reactions to the
products Holland says.
In the early 2000's she started investigating make up based on natural ingredients, and also attended a six month course in 2003 on natural therapies in Queensland.
Coming back to New Zealand in 2007, Holland put together five make up and body products.
In June 2009 she also took part in Grow Wellington's Activate course, and "learnt about business structures and other sides of things," she says.
A thwarted attempt to get her initial line into supermarkets resulted in her opening a retail outlet in central Wellington, to complement the Tawa shop (where she has a small manufacturing establishment).
"The retail store has been a fantastic ground for test marketing," she says. "We've grown from five products to over 30. That's based on customer feedback, and we can custom-make as required."
Her products are made from natural minerals and oils, and colouring is from natural oxides. The labeling simply lists these ingredients, "and clients just read for themselves," she says.
Her vision is to export, which, from her local base, is slowly beginning to happen. In what is almost a 'coals to Newcastle' scenario, earth 174° products are soon to be supplied to China, who "just seem to love New Zealand products," says Holland.
Her two stores and website generate ongoing sales, with attendance at local market days being one way she generates new sales. Party plans, or home demonstration parties, are another way to convert users to her fold.
The online presence is particularly useful for people who have discovered earth 174° while on a cruise ship stopover in Wellington, and want to re-purchase.
Holland also encourages the reuse of containers, and customers receive a discount for bringing them back for refilling later.
"That's why we use glass," she says. "It would be easier using plastic, but amazingly, people do bring back a lot of their bottles."
The major growth for earth 174° will come from overseas sales. She sees in-home demonstrations (party plans) as an area to be targeted.
Holland says while there's no lack of competition in the make up and beauty products market space, her company's advantage has been in "being able to adapt quickly to suit the market."
"We have, and have the ability to change quickly to cater for what is happening at the time."