Having established her high end skincare products here in her Bay of Plenty home, Tibetan-born Hellen Faulkner is looking to the Chinese market to expand her business and put the Bay and New Zealand on the map for products using ingredients from kiwifruit and avocados.
Faulkner started her HZP+Co skincare business two years ago.
She and her family own kiwifruit and avocado orchards in Katikati and the inspiration for the business came when Faulkner noticed a lot of fruit is wasted. There are not many products made with the fruits which can't be export.
"You cannot export all the fruit — there's a lot discarded and it doesn't really make sense. When we grow up in China, my grandma always managed to use all the leftover fruits and all other food. I am passionate about not wasting food and saw an opportunity to use these natural ingredients in skincare and by products made of kiwifruits."
The result is a unique range of skincare including hydration mists, serums and body oil.
Faulkner, who is a busy mum to Bear, 10, and Fox, 3, wanted to include a children's range, specifically to support emotional wellbeing.
The result is her Splashwater range which includes Calm Me Down Spray, a mist of lavender, sage, rose, moroccan mint, cardamom, mimosa and vanilla flower. There is also Wake Me Up and Freshen Me Up, each with its carefully selected blend of natural ingredients.
"Children these days can go through a lot of anxiety growing up, facing challenges in their life at home and school. The sprays are designed so they can carry in their bags as a tool to manage their emotions or help with their feelings."
The products have caught the attention of hockey star turned life coach Gemma McCaw who goes into schools to talk to children about health and wellbeing.
Along with McCaw, Faulkner is a supporter of Western Bay Life Education which funds a health and wellness curriculum for more than 12,000 local primary and intermediate children.
Channelling profits back into the community is important for Faulkner. Another charity the range supports is Foster Hope, which provides care packages for foster children entering new homes for the first time.
"That, for me, is an important purpose to build a successful business, being able to give back and support the charity who is making different to our kids' everyday living. That and minimal waste — we are very careful with the bottling of our products and produce the least waste possible."
Faulkner first came to New Zealand from Tibet Plateau as an international student in 2002. She said she was very lucky to meet some wonderful people who helped her to start and build her happy life in New Zealand.
After 16 years living here, where Faulkner fell in love with its land, and scenery, she started HZP+Co brand initially in her orchard shed.
It wasn't plain sailing — in the same year she started, Faulkner battled health issues, after doctors discover a large tumour in her pancreas. The illness did not deter her. In fact, it fuelled her passion for natural products as she started to use kiwifruit powder in her food as part of nutrition healing.
As well as developing HZP's skincare range, she started looking at ways to produce kiwifruit powder, and discovering no equipment to manufacture it in New Zealand, she began to investigate opportunities back in China. After two years in business, the skincare side is getting good response with great interest in the range which is sold online and in airports.
HZP+Co Brand has just entered into a partnership agreement with an ecommerce company and Faulkner is also looking to the Chinese market.
Earlier this year Faulkner accompanied Tauranga mayor Greg Brownless, Greg Simmonds, chief operating officer for Priority One, Anne Young, Tauranga Education regional manager, Mike Rogers, Bop Rugby Union chief executive along with local school representatives in a delegation to Tauranga's sister city Yantai and four other cities in China.
The aim of the trip was to promote Tauranga and Bay of plenty region exporters and the city as a destination for international students, rugby players and business investors.
It is all in a day's work for the Bay mum who believes that successful businesses come from following your passions.
"My best piece of advice for others is believe in your dreams, take the opportunity and work hard."
HZP+Co provides high-quality, natural skincare products that harness the natural goodness of the Bay of Plenty.
Splashwater is for children of all ages to help them to manage their feelings and emotions everyday. www.hzp.co.nz
Tauranga has been sister city to Yantai for 30 years. Yantai, like Tauranga, is a port, and a useful point of entry for exporters into the market.
While New Zealand trade to China is dominated by the big boys, such as Fonterra and Zespri International, smaller, enterprising exporters can make headway in the Chinese market with quality, niche products.
Help and support is also available for local companies wanting to export to China — or manufacture their products there, and sell on the mainland. The Yantai Investment Development Board (YIDB) can help an overseas company set up, get land and labour
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