Emma Peters, founder of Auckland cosmetics company Aleph Beauty, talks spending years on developing her makeup range and how she and her husband Jim Hudson plan to expand into Australia later in the year - if the situation surrounding Covid-19 permits.
What does your business do?
Aleph Beauty is a beauty brand that creates easy simple to use makeup to help people to look and feel great. Everything we produce is people, planet and animal friendly. In the past, there seemed to have been brands that only pick one of those, but I wanted something that ticked all of the boxes. I built the brand around minimalism and easy and efficient application. We started selling in September 2018 after working on the products and the concept for more than 10 years.
What was the motivation for starting it?
I've been in the makeup industry for more than 20 years and I worked in all aspects of the industry from makeup artistry in film, to fashion to TV to advertising. I've used a lot of makeup over a long period of time, on a lot of faces.
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In the last 15 years, I've unofficially studied health, nutrition and wellbeing. I've officially studied yoga, and certified as a yoga teacher, and at some stage, those started to coincide and I realised I was talking to people about health and wellbeing and that the products I was applying to them were far from what I was talking about. That led me to search out natural and organic brands and I ended up putting together an online store, it was called Belle and Sage. Over the last decade or so Aleph Beauty has been going on in the background, and in the back of my mind, while running the e-commerce business.
Throughout the years I would find that I had rooms full of masses of makeup and yet I could still use the same five products over and over again. In terms of chip and lip colours, there's a sweet spot colour that suits most skin types, and so I developed our products to mimic what the skins natural tones so it suits everyone and as a result we have a very small curated range, but within the products, you can do a lot with it.
How big is the team?
We've got a team of seven who work every day and then a handful of contractors. We're based in East Auckland.
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How much have you invested to start Aleph Beauty?
That's a very tricky one to pinpoint because we have been developing this for years in the background and it is bootstrapped, completely self-funded, it is something my husband and I have put all of our resources into for many years to bring it to life. A lot of it is our time as well, because my husband is the marketing genius behind it, and I handle everything from the design of the products to heading the formulation team to designing the packing and setting our marketing strategies. A lot of things I would assume a normal small business would hire people to do, we haven't done.
What are you working on this year?
This year is changing rapidly by the day, but our plan for this year is to move into international markets, first of all, Australia, and then North America and then Europe and the UK. We'll watch to how quickly or slowly that goes this year with what's going on, but those are the plans.
We'll also be taking on more retailers throughout New Zealand. Up until the beginning of the year we've only had a very small handful of retailers; we've been online primarily.
How much disruption have you faced from the Covid-19 outbreak?
It is definitely putting a little bit of a handbrake on the manufacture and delivery of some packaging deliveries that we have been expecting. It's slowing things up a little bit but we also have backup plans as well. At this stage not so much of an impact, yet that could change in an hour or in a day, or a week, we don't know. Our back up plan is to focus on our domestic market, we will be doing and evolving however we can, with whatever information we've got.
Where is your makeup manufactured?
In Auckland - we're one of the few only New Zealand brands to manufacture their full range in New Zealand. Most of our packaging is made in New Zealand, some of our packaging components, such as glass jars, come from China and the United States. We've been in constant contact with our suppliers since the end of January, with our Chinese suppliers, so hopefully, now things are looking up on the delay front.
What advice do you give to others who want to start their own business?
Being in business is challenging, but it's so interesting and so rewarding. Forge ahead no matter what without listening to too many naysayers. Down the track there will always be people around rolling their eyes or asking 'How you think you are going to do that'. Push forward and know that the end goal is the most important thing.
Do a business course, and don't expect the business to fly from the get-go - we put 10 years into this business before launching. Have your eye on the goal, but be prepared to pivot if you need to.