Over many years as a make-up artist, Rachel Muollo sampled a vast range of cosmetic products on her own skin. When she became increasingly sensitive to products containing certain chemicals, she knew it was time to investigate natural alternatives. What started out as a search to solve her own problem led her to found Upper Hutt’s natural skin care company, Botanical Beauty Co.
“I was working for global cosmetic brands like Yves Saint Laurent and Estee Lauder in the 1990s. I knew a lot about conventional make-up but my dream was to create products which were 100 percent natural, safe and effective”.
Rachel started by completing a Diploma in Herbal Studies at Cottage Hill Herb Farm (not far from home, in the Akatarawa Valley). Then for two years, she researched every natural ingredient and skin care product she could get her hands on. “It was a complete labour of love,” Rachel admits.
Her next challenge was to learn how to formulate natural products using high quality oils, extracts, essential oils and raw materials from ethical and sustainable manufacturers.
“I was inspired by an article I read about a woman who started making natural cosmetics at home before expanding into a commercial operation”. Rachel recalls thinking, “If she can do it, so can I!”.
“We launched our brand with just two products – a face balm and cream cleanser. But eager customers started asking for more,” Rachel explains. “So we extended our range to meet the demand”.
Rachel and her daughter/business partner Natasha Muollo (a trained beauty therapist) are now reaping the benefits of making and selling their natural skincare products in Upper Hutt’s CBD. “Formulating our products alongside each other and on the same premises means we can connect personally with our customers and produce more of what they want,” Rachel says.
Although Botanical Beauty Co. makes approximately 90 different skincare products, herbal tinctures and remedies, it has no aspirations to be a global brand. “Like an old-fashioned apothecary, we’re interested in creating bespoke skincare products, in Upper Hutt. Making small batches means we can turn an order around in 24 hours. Customers can be sure that our products haven’t been sitting on the shelf for months.”
Having a retail presence in Upper Hutt has complemented the company’s online store and attracted the attention of beauty therapists, corporates and boutique hotels around New Zealand.
Since being based in Upper Hutt’s main street, Botanical Beauty Co. has been well supported. “The council is really proactive. It helped us get set up, always includes us in its ideas and connects us to people we need to know”.
Rachel believes that there are many local people who are willing to spend money in Upper Hutt’s city centre before heading to shopping malls elsewhere. “Many Upper Hutt residents are looking for quality products and retail experiences. If the right shops are here, customers will come. We opened our store without a single client but the business has paid for itself from day one and now we have a strong base of loyal clients from Upper Hutt and all over New Zealand. It’s brilliant”.
Visit the Botanical Beauty website: www.botanicalbeauty.co.nz