From nursing to natural skincare

I started this natural skincare business in 2018 but in reality I was on the path towards Agnes & Me for 12 years before I ventured into selling natural skincare.

In some ways it all started when I moved to New Zealand. I met my husband when we were both living in Sydney – I was a nurse and he was a journalist.

Not long after we got married Michael got a job offer to come back home to New Zealand. It was 2005 and we thought we’d take a gamble on coming to Auckland.

We were a little apprehensive about moving from a city of 4 million to a country of 4 million but I’d loved New Zealand on the previous visits so we took the leap – even though when we arrived we bought the cheapest car we could find just in case we changed our minds and high-tailed it back to Sydney.

Initially we lived in Ponsonby as it was walking distance to work for both of us. One day I on a drive to Piha I got completely lost (as I was very prone to do in the pre-Google maps era) and I ended up in Titirangi in the foothills of the Waitakere ranges. I fell in love with the green beauty of the place and soon we moved out west.

Moving to NZ changed my life

Moving to New Zealand – and specifically to Titirangi – changed my life. I’d left behind the big city hustle and felt more in touch with life and nature. Sustainability, reducing waste, appreciating life all came to the fore. And that’s what drew me to the Sustainable Living Centre in New Lynn. With Michael working Saturdays – as sports reporters do – I was always looking for things to do and I found some great classes there: composting, making cleaning products, warming the home.

Agnes & Me home studio location in Titirangi

But the eureka class for me – which I attended with my friends Lynne and Sonya – was how to make a balm. It was very basic – a world away from what I do now – but I was hooked.

Soon I was teaching myself how to make other skincare products that I liked to use, so a face cream and a body butter was the natural place to start. Part of it was about making sure I put only the best ingredients on my skin. I wanted natural, high-quality ingredients because why would I skimp when it came to looking after myself. But I also desperately wanted to reduce waste in my life. Why should I buy products often in plastic, sold inside a box, often wrapped in another layer of plastic? It was all so wasteful.

The more I learned and understood about skincare the better my products became. How I got talked into selling them is another story that I’ll save for a rainy day but the bottom line is that the genesis of Agnes & Me was in sustainability and waste-free.

There's still more to do

We’re not yet perfect in that regard – I still have plastic lids on my jars – but I’m making small steps all the time. We only use compostable bags for postage and the next step is compostable labels which have just become available.

So plastic-free July is really important to me and I am so happy that this has now become such a norm with so many people. Anyone who’s spent any time with me will have heard me rant about plastic and how wasteful and unnecessary most of it is . And I do apologise to all those random strangers whom I’ve accosted in supermarkets about their plastic bag use! It is not the way to bring about change I know.

I hope you're here because you love our products but I also hope you're here because you love the planet and that we share similar values about reducing waste and living more sustainable lives.