Rangitoto College student William Cole, 17, co-founder of skincare brand Clearfree discusses starting a business in his enterprise class and a future in business.
What does your business do?
We're a small healthcare business we started in February 2017. It was founded by myself, Max Lawton and Josef Morgan. We started off with the goal to produce as many natural products as we could and mainly using manuka oils as a key ingredient that we source from the Hawke's Bay region.
Since then we started with a Manuka oil facial spray which helps with a range of different skin problems such as acne and eczema. From that, we made 800 sales last year, about $15,000 profit. We're also about to release our Manuka oil foaming cleanser in the next couple of weeks.
What was the motivation?
The motivation was a gap in the market for teenagers to have more natural skincare products because a lot of products on the market are chemical-based and we researched the effects of these on the skin and they can actually lead to negative long-term problems such as dry skin which is a contradiction to the purpose of the product.
Originally it started just with school and then we went into the Youth Enterprise.
The reason we settled on skincare is that we suffer skin problems and stats show that 80 per cent of the world's teenagers suffer skin issues so we thought it would be cool to create something natural to deal with.
How long did it take to design and come up with your first product?
For the first product, we went through quite a few choices. The products we were initially thinking about were moisturisers and lotions but we went for the facial spray because we thought it was unique. Also, there are actually no other Manuka oil sprays on the market.
We did some research and chose the Manuka oil because it is shown to be more effective than other more commonly used, such as tea tree so we picked that to push into the market as a unique selling point.
What are your long-term plans for Clearfree?
At the rate we're going now, in the future we might have the ability to expand to an international scale. We've talked to some people who work for international companies and they seem to be quite interested, especially for the Asian markets.
How has your product been received and who is buying it?
It's been received well, a lot better than we expected. We do a lot of Facebook marketing, we have a large social media presence which helps us a lot. Facebook and Instagram are very key in helping us with that. We sell our products through our website and try to link our website from social media as much as we can.
We find that a lot of buyers seem to be mums and females aged 35 to 45 or a bit older and a lot of them come back to us with reviews on effects that it has had on their children.
What's been the biggest challenge you have to overcome?
The biggest challenge we've faced is the fact that we're teenagers running a business. Some people don't take us as seriously as they would take us if we were 10 years older. That was a bit tricky to start off with but better now that we have social media and the website which is professionally made. At first, it was hard to push it out there, and especially because its a skincare product, people want to know where it comes from and how you've made it.
Where do you make your products?
We make our products in a lab by the Millenium in the North Shore. The dad of one of our team members has a healthcare business and so he has a big office and laboratory downstairs that we use to make all of our products.
How do you like being a business owner?
I have personally found it very good. It's probably one of the best things I have decided to do. I'm now looking to do an international business course at university and carry on from there.
What advice do you give others thinking about starting their own business?
One hundred per cent do it because it is truly life-changing and it's something that will help you toward your goals in the future, especially as the world is changing and employers are looking for people who are different.