By Rhys Lawrence
For skincare brand Oasis Beauty, success stems from hard-graft and a touch of good humour. Their story began fifteen years ago, after founder Stephanie Evans traded expensive skincare products for homemade ones. Today, Oasis Beauty is a multimillion dollar business, making new generation ingredients and global sales.
What’s the background to Oasis Beauty?
I founded Oasis Beauty fifteen years ago – from my own kitchen table. I was living in Auckland, thirty years old and still struggling with problem skin. With a mortgage to pay, I didn’t have the money to keep experimenting with expensive skincare products, so when I came across a book about making your own skincare creams out of natural ingredients, I decided to give it a go.
Initially, I sold to family and friends at markets and through home parties. All while juggling the business with my ’day job’. But in 2005, I decided to have a real go at building the business, sold my wedding china for $1,000 and used the funds to set up Oasis Beauty.
What’s the business doing now?
We now employ a team of eleven people at our offices in Oxford (South Island) and around the country. We have a full range of sun and skincare products – and have recently launched two new sunscreens, Ultra SPF 50+ and Sport SPF 40+. Both sunscreens contain new generation sunscreen ingredients. And Oasis Beauty is the first New Zealand sunscreen manufacturer to use them.
We sell online, through national pharmacies in New Zealand and make a large portion of overseas sales through distribution agents in China and Australia. We also have direct online sales from our website to many other countries around the world, including the UK and US. Currently, we’re exploring other channels in order to market in Europe.
What does being from New Zealand mean for your business?
For us it’s very much about entrepreneurial spirit and hard-graft, with a bit of humour thrown in. Our attitude is to give things a go, use initiative and have fun while doing it – who knows what’s possible if you don’t try? Sometimes things won’t work out but failure is a learning curve of business.
I think that being from a small country, a long way from anywhere gives us a little more originality. It also means a smaller market at home, where we can try different things and work on new products before launching them to the wider world.
One great advantage in being from New Zealand is that we formulate and manufacture our sunscreen in some of the harshest UV conditions in the world. So our sunscreens have the perfect testing ground.
Where have you found the opportunities come from?
The digital world has made doing business much easier for New Zealand companies. Geographical distance is not the issue it once was particularly for small, easily delivered consumer products such as ours. Investing in your website is essential – for us it’s our window to the world. We are open and honest, our website shows our staff members, it has faces and names – and tells people who we are and what we’re like.
We also talk a lot about our location in the beautiful South Island and share plenty of beautiful NZ images on social media – they prove extremely popular with our followers
What has NZ Story and FernMark meant for you?
I became aware of NZ story through NZTE – it just looked like a great idea for any business wanting to leverage their New Zealandness in overseas markets. The resources and assets available are excellent and really help you to think about what being in New Zealand means for your business. As a business owner, I feel proud to see the NZ FernMark on our products. We really value the brand protection and extra credibility it lends – giving consumers that extra peace of mind.
I would encourage other SMEs not to be daunted by the idea of exploring export markets and to make the most of great, free resources like those from NZ Story.