Big year for Kiwi skincare brand

GROWING MARKETS: Elizabeth Barbalich, founder of Antipodes, at her recently opened retail store at Wellington Airport.
GROWING MARKETS: Elizabeth Barbalich, founder of Antipodes, at her recently opened retail store at Wellington Airport.

Scientifically validated Antipodes Skincare, developed by Wellingtonian Elizabeth Barbalich, has quadrupled production this year to meet demand from overseas.

The Newtown company has been making tens of thousands of pottles a month of its top-selling Avocado Pear Nourishing Night Cream as turnover rose 80 per cent in the last financial year.

In 2010 Antipodes received a $206,000 government technology grant to develop new anti-ageing products. It has since invested $250,000 of its own earnings in research and development, discovering how effective natural ingredients such as Vinanza grapes are at protecting skin and regenerating skin cells.

The products Antipodes makes use raw, certified organic ingredients where possible. Its founder, Barbalich, who has a science degree, is passionate about using ingredients harvested in ways that have as little impact on the environment as possible.

New Zealand still accounts for 30 per cent of Antipodes sales, at shops including pharmacies and health stores and its recently opened dedicated retail store Beauty Lab at Wellington Airport. However, its export markets have been growing.

After setbacks in Britain when two consecutive distributors went into liquidation, it is now stocked at department stores Harrods and Selfridges.

"It took a long time to convince our new distributor to take the brand on because two other distributors had fallen over but not through any fault of ours or anything to do with our brand," Barbalich said. "Getting a key partner is absolutely critical in any market."

A mother to three teens, she leaves most of the travelling to her staff these days but still likes to visit London on business annually.

"Word spreads quickly in a market like the UK. Consumers are looking for scientifically validated products that make them feel good and look good so the fact it is from New Zealand is an added bonus, but not a reason people buy it."

She said Antipodes had found Britain much easier to penetrate than Australia. Across the Tasman, Antipodes products are stocked in department stores David Jones and Myer, taking things "slowly and surely". Barbalich said Australia was a very different retail environment in terms of channels to market and she was being careful not to throw the brand in to channels it could not afford to sustain.

Because of the cost and time involved in getting products certified organic and scientifically validated as effective, it takes a long time to develop products. The typical time frame is two years.

Antipodes, which employs 20 people, just launched sunscreen moisturisers with SPF15 and in February will be launching a new range - details of which Barbalich could not yet reveal. "Most of my time is spent on product development and research."

The Dominion Post