M2Woman story 2010 by Amy McDonald
The choices in natural beauty products go beyond body oils. New Zealand's Karen Murrell creates a range that has a premium feel and is good for the environment.
It's almost an oxymoron isn't it? In these times, spending a lot of money on one small item of clothing, or buying (horror) out of season strawberries - is almost a license to be judged by those who frequent Op Shops and Farmers' Markets. How to get the things you like without it weighing on your conscience?
Karen Murrell has the answer. She's designed a line of skincare and cosmetics that's not only staggeringly gorgeous, but it's totally eco-friendly. Icing on the cake - it's affordable. too.
Karen was born and brought up in New Zealand and has always had a fascination for natural ingredients. Her grandmother would show her how to make soap and moisturiser from basic household products, learnt during the Depression. She enjoys beach walks with her father, who is always pottering in her garden. The contents of her kitchen cupboard are part of her beauty routine, with olive oil being used as a hair mask for dry, stressed hair.
"I believe that it's in our nature as Kiwis to create and invent. That's why I've looked to simple, everyday items to create beautiful products, rather than relying on harmful chemicals. I also feel that it's been lost somewhat - that ability to make-do that our families used to rely on."
She lives in Takapuna and uses Rangitoto, pohutukawa trees and the beautiful scenery of New Zealand as her inspiration. However, she is also to be found on the High Street buying fabulous clothes and shoes, a thoroughly modern eco-warrior.
A former model, her bright packaging mirrors her bubbly, chatty personality. "It talks to you from the shelf!" she laughs.
Mention natural products to most people, and they usually picture dull, sparse packaging, with some nose-wrinkling aromas. Karen's line has been thoughtfully designed to not only look fantastic on your dressing table, but it can also be recycled, or in the case of the lipsticks - buried in the ground, where the corn resin casing will begin to disintegrate within 100 days. They also contain a nature's medicine chest of honey, beeswax, delicious essential oils, and tamanu oil, the latest anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory superstar from the Pacific Islands. Fragranced with exotic essential oils such as frankincense and geranium, they remove the need for extra scent application.
The standout product in the skincare line is the Nature's Essence Body Scrub. Made with intoxicating ylang ylang essential oil, salt flakes to slough rough skin, oatmeal to polish and hydrate, and the afore-mentioned tamanu oil, it smells gorgeous, and leaves your skin smooth and glowing. But it doesn't stop there. Cleansers, moisturisers (for men and women) and a healing balm that will be wonderful for dry, rough skin over these cooler months are also included in the line.
Karen's trademark, however, is lipstick. The line has four shades and one clear gloss. She believes that they are all you need to create any shade you want by mixing and blending. Karen doesn't like the idea of releasing lots of different shades merely to sell more units, when "these four shades suit all skin tones - and you can use them in other ways, such as blusher, or as a highlighter." They include jojoba and beeswax, and have a delicious spicy fragrance. They are weightless, yet long-lasting - every woman's dream.
All the products in Karen's name are organically certified, which involved a lot of i-dotting and t-crossing. To Karen, the extra work was a moot point - there was no Plan B. Even though the staff at the distributors must ensure the products are in a special zone inside the warehouse and no pesticides are allowed anywhere near them, and even though laboratory technicians have to wear special clothes before working on the products - she will continue to apply for certification every six months. A pragmatic businesswoman, she says "I want the line to be successful internationally, and organic certification is the way the trend is going." And it's working. In just six months since its launch, the line has been picked up in France at the Bon Marche stores, and is also heading to the UK, Singapore and the United States.
With all this hard work, Karen loves nothing more than receiving positive feedback from customers.
"I often hear that they were unable to use skincare, or suffered from allergic reactions - but with Karen Murrell they now have no issues. That really makes my day!"