Sweet scent of deodorant success
Frustration and embarrassment led Mel Lewis to her kitchen bench trying to find a solution to her problem.
“I was doing a huge amount of training for Oxfam and couldn’t find a single deodorant that worked for me,” Mel said.
Oxfam Trailwalker is a charity team challenge where teams of four walk 100km or 50km to raise funds to help poverty in the Pacific region. Mel’s team walked the 100km.
“I have really sensitive skin and wanted something that was natural. Nothing I tried worked so it was really out of necessity that Kiriwai Natural Deodorants were born,” Mel says.
“There was a lot of trial and error before I got it right and I have had a lot of help from some incredible people in Hawke’s Bay. The people at the Business Hub in Ahuriri have been fantastic.”
Kiriwai Natural Deodorants are mineral-based, in recyclable packaging with biodegradable ingredients.
“Everybody is different so there is a scent to suit all and only the most ‘scent’sational blends are used.” Mel says there is a bit of a stigma around natural deodorants.
“People think you are a smelly hippie,” she laughs. “However, the market is changing and more and more people are turning to natural products. They want to know what they are putting on their skin and they also want to know that packaging is recyclable.”
Mel started by using the products herself, then shared some with friends and family.
“It really has just taken off from there — by word of mouth.”
Her first effort used a common ingredient found in many natural products — baking soda.
This “burnt” Mel’s skin so she did some research and started using magnesium hydroxide, a natural antibacterial which stops smells and zinc oxide which reacts with sweat molecules, turning into body odour. Mel grew up in Wellington where she and her husband worked in banking. They moved to Hawke’s Bay in 2010 to run Hawthorn House.
“Our friends and family thought we were crazy. It was hard work but rewarding. We must have been doing something right because while we were running it, it was voted second best bed and breakfast by Trip Advisor.”
After five years the couple, who have three children, moved to Havelock North.
“My husband went back to finance and I went to deodorant,” Mel laughs. “It was my husband who said I needed a business plan when things started to take off.”
Mel says it’s exciting to be involved with business people in Hawke’s Bay.
“There is a positive vibe in Hawke’s Bay — it is a cool place to be in business. I love the fact that I have time to chat with clients and it just makes my day when I get an email from a customer.”
I have tried these products, and they work. It has the consistency of a balm and is applied with finger tips.Massage it in, then wait a moment before dressing to ensure none transfers to clothes.
Mel Lewis with her natural deodorants.