Face to face with beauty
opportunities in SE Asia

From possum fibre eyelashes to personalised skincare, five New Zealand health and beauty entrepreneurs are set to explore opportunities to get their unique products into Southeast Asian markets.

The five women travel to Malaysia and Singapore this week as part of the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative, run by the Asia New Zealand Foundation for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In Kuala Lumpur they will be briefed by the New Zealand Trade Commissioner Simon Hearsey and High Commissioner Hunter Nottage, learn about e-commerce in the region, meet Malaysian producers of health and beauty products, and representatives of New Zealand companies like Comvita.

They will also meet Southeast Asian entrepreneurs who have previously visited New Zealand through the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative. Those past participants include Joel Neoh, who won Asia’s Top CEO of the Year Award in 2018 for his mobile payment and rewards app company Fave.

In Singapore the entrepreneurs will attend the Beauty Asia summit and meet with Kiwi businesspeople working in the region.

Asia New Zealand Foundation’s Adam McConnochie, programme manager for leadership and entrepreneurship, says Beauty Asia is a great platform to quickly give the entrepreneurs an understanding of the market.

“They can go to Beauty Asia and get access to dozens of distributors straight away. It’s a really good way to get a sense of trends in the industry.

“Overall, this programme will give the entrepreneurs great insight into the cultural contexts behind the beauty-product market in Southeast Asia, but also the increasing role of e-commerce companies like Fave.”

The participants are:

Sara Quilter, founder and CEO of Tailor Skincare, Wellington. Tailor is a natural skincare range with a focus on personalisation and is available in New Zealand’s two largest retailers. It has strong retail sales and an online community of more than 100,000 subscribers.

Alex Gage-Brown, general manager of Skinfood, Auckland. Skinfood is a market leader in New Zealand-made natural and organic skincare and already exports to 10 international markets.

Hannah Duder, CEO of indigo & iris, Christchurch. indigo & iris produces Levitate, a vegan, cruelty-free mascara that has 50 percent of its profits given to the Fred Hollows Foundation NZ. It plans to launch further products this year.

Kimberley Bray, co-founder of Sub & Tarctic, Christchurch. Sub & Tarctic is a medical-based skin therapy company that uses bio-active keratin and manuka honey sourced from the South Island.

Sharee Wilkinson, CEO and founder of Moka Premium Eco Fibre Lashes, Wellington. Moka produces lashes made from possum fibre and is the first New Zealand-made eyelashes and is one of the first companies to raise money through Tā Koha, the world’s first indigenous crowdfunding platform.

Sub & Tarctic’s Kimberley Bray says she is looking forward to exploring distribution opportunities in Southeast Asia.

 “Singapore is a really interesting market for us in terms of being a premium market for skincare, and also a gateway to the rest of Asia. And Malaysia is a halal hub. We’re really interested to find out how consumers view our products in those markets.”

Moka’s Wilkinson is looking forward to getting ideas that she can potentially incorporate into her own products. “Asia is the hub for lashes. The research and development for me is huge – I want to see what I can do that they’re doing and maybe incorporate that into my business.”

Meanwhile, Tailor’s Quilter says she is looking forward to opportunity to learn about a new culture. “I’m really hoping I can make some exciting partnerships and relationships, and work to build on those after the trip.”  

The Asia New Zealand Foundation is a non-partisan, non-profit organisation with a range of programmes designed to equip New Zealanders with first-hand experience of Asia and to forge valuable links to the region. Founded in 1994, the Foundation works in five main areas - business, arts and culture, education, media and research. It also runs a Leadership Network and takes a lead role in track II (informal diplomacy) bilateral and multilateral dialogues in the Asia-Pacific region. 

For more information, contact acting director of communications Rebecca Inoue-Palmer.