Hi Leighanne. Tell us a bit about Belle & Co. What do you do, and how did the business come about?
Belle & Co was born out of frustration at the lack of zero waste beauty products that I was able to buy for myself and my family. I am passionate about sustainability but have always had a bit of a beauty habit.. two things that were increasingly at odds. More and more I found I could not justify the little pots of treats that I wanted to buy for myself. So I decided to put my knowledge to good use and create my own products that are plastic free.
Where are you based? How important is location to what you do?
I’m based in Silverdale, just a little north of Auckland. Location is very important to my business because of the community that surrounds it. Without my loyal tribe of local testers and increasingly passionate local followers I wouldn’t have been able to get off to the start that I have.
Tell us a bit about your product ranges.
Wherever possible I try to formulate zero waste products for hair, skin and body. This includes shampoo bars, conditioner, body butter bars, facial oil bars and moisturisers. I also have face creams and masks which I sell in refill packs that are made from cellulose so kind to the planet. My range is 100% plastic free.
When did you discover Go Native?
I only discovered Go Native a few months ago when I was looking for plant based alternatives to some ingredients and I’m glad I did! I find the team are not only super helpful and knowledgable but also passionate about the same sustainable value as Belle & Co.
Have you had any mishaps in the process of making your own formulas and experimenting with raw ingredients?
Absolutely – that’s all part of the fun. Just lately I have been developing a make up range and that’s a lot of very messy mistakes. The most important thing is to take notes so you know what you did and make sure you try something different next time.
What natural beauty products or ingredients do you find yourself recommending most often?
I often find that the simplest things work the best. I use the Go Native pink clay in a few of my ranges, most notably my pink clay cleansing bar and the pink clay face mask and these are hands down my favourite products… and so I recommend them lots. I get lots of lovely feedback on these and the pink clay does really lovely things to your skin.
Ethically Kate (@ethicallykate) is my go-to and she is local to me too. I love the role she just took at NZ fashion week and her attempts to shift the fashion and beauty norms.
Who are your favourite social media follows for inspiration?
What ingredient are you currently loving at the moment?
I’m making lots with Rosehip Oil right now (because of the Go Native special pricing, I bought more than usual). I haven’t used Rosehip oil so much for a while now but am definitely falling in love with it again. In fact I’m making a new face cream with it just for me today.
How long do you spend experimenting before you land on a new formula?
It really depends. Sometimes you get lucky and things go well right from the start... sometimes things take longer. I have a few products that ended up just right first time and some I’ve been working on for a few months and I’m still not happy with them. I’m also a constant tweaker so it’s important to know when to stop and acknowledge you have a great product ready to go.
What advice would you give someone starting out in your industry?
Aim High. You might only be one person, with limited resources but set yourself big goals as that’s the only way you’ll have a chance of achieving them.
What’s the best advice you’ve received in the years since starting your business?
This isn’t really advice but without doubt one of the most motivational things I’ve ever been told. A friend of mine was taking my son to school a few weeks back and as they walked along he said to her ‘My mummy and me are going to make the world a better place, but I’m having a little rest at the moment as sometimes it can be tiring’.
Hearing that made my heart burst and reminds me all of reasons I’m doing all of this and what I want to achieve. His words most definitely keep me focused!
Find Leighanne's gorgeous products on the Belle & Co website, on Instagram and on Facebook.
If you're a maker who uses Go Native NZ ingredients, we'd love to feature you on these pages! Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org