Luci Firth, owner and managing director of Japanese collagen supplement and beauty brand Adashiko, talks about working with Rachel Hunter and competition in the market.
What does the business do?
We are a collagen company that imports Japanese peptide collagen and work with a pharmaceutical company in Japan where we develop formulas for our collagen powder and since 2016 we have a skincare range of 12 products. We're based in Napier, Hawke's Bay, and began in 2014 was when our founder Yuko Arquette brought the business to New Zealand.
We sell our products online and they are also sold in over 100 stockists; beauty salons and pharmacies.
What was the motivation for starting it?
How it came about was Yuko worked in Japan at the leading pharmaceutical company, she married a Kiwi and brought it into New Zealand when she moved here and realised there was a gap in the market for high-quality collagen products. I was working with them and I bought and took over the business in 2015.
Back then collagen wasn't very well-known, but I could see huge potential - there was only one other company on the market and we were the first collagen powder product in the market. We've taken the idea and run with it and have had 150 per cent growth year-on-year since then.
How big is the team?
At the moment we have a team of eight and a few contractors too who are working with us, plus our manufacturing company here in Hawke's Bay who fill all of our packaging. We have just gone sustainable with all of our packaging so we've moved all of our skincare to glass from plastic and our collagen powders to a food grade paper and cardboard in June.
How much competition are you facing in the market?
Our market is the age 45-plus, predominantly women and I think a lot of people are taking it for beauty benefits but they get the added benefits of internal health. We also have an older demographics of customers who are taking it for joint aches and pains and their health issues. We also have athletes, sportspeople and farmers taking our joints collagen.
Rachel Hunter is our brand ambassador and she's a big advocate of it for us. She has been using Adashiko products for around a year now. Rachel's natural and holistic approach to health and beauty really aligns beautifully with Adashiko's ethos. To have such a natural beauty and the nation's sweetheart fronting our brand is something we are so proud of. Rachel is a genuinely endearing and a beautiful woman from inside and out. It shows in the work she does and the way she lives her life.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected the business?
We noticed a bit of an increase sales because of the focus on health, wellness and wellbeing. People really turned into how can we protect ourselves from Covid, build our immune system, how can we look after ourselves and I think that's what has surprised us around the sales, and especially international sales. The increase in sales has sustained since the beginning of the pandemic, and the United States is our biggest growing market.
What's the biggest challenge you've faced running Adashiko?
Getting in front of the consumer in a very busy market. We have a lot of competitors, but lots of businesses out there have formed collagen companies but they don't have the backing of good quality collagen. We pride ourselves on the fact that we are a very high-quality product, we go a little bit deeper than the other brands out there; the other brands all seem to be using the same collagen from the same factory.
What are your long term plans?
Our long-term plans are to have a bigger premise and more staff. We've got three new products in the pipeline and just launched our new Gold+ serum. One of the new products we will launch is a collagen water. We're working with a local company in Hawke's Bay to develop a ready to drink pre-mixed collagen and water beverage that is going into New World stores in October. We've also got two products in development to add to the skincare line.
The collagen drink was going to be the first of its kind but it was kind of put on the backburner for a little bit and since then there is a company in Auckland that has launched a drink but its not a purely collagen formula, they have added stevia and flavourings, but ours is not going to have those components. We're not going to be the first but we'll be the first at the purest form. We've been working on this for the past two and a half years.
What advice do you give to others who want to start their own business?
Find something you're passionate about, that you really believe in and will put the hours in to make it work. Make sure the business has integrity and a heart behind it and stick to those values.