pauline in calendula garden-photo by Robbie Kay, Waitomo News

waitomo news 13 March 2012 "A business that's truly homegrown," by Robbie Kay

pauline in shop-photo by Robbie Kay, Waitomo News

Having succeeded in creating products to suit her own "mature" skin, in 2003 she set about building a profitable business.

Within seven years that small business - Infused with Nature - was judged Best Micro Business in the Her Business Taupo regional awards in 2010.

"I emigrated from the UK with my husband Robert and three daughters 15 years ago," says Pauling.  "Robert had come to NZ to buy a dairy farm, found this wonderful property and we followed him over.  We didn't know what was ahead of us but it was the best thing we  ever did as it's such a friendly district and we love it here.  We had no belongings - container arrived about six weeks later - but our neighbours leant us everything we needed."

Having always worked, Pauling got a job as a Personal Assistant in Te Awamutu, but after five years of travelling every day, she'd had enough.

"I wanted to have a little business based on the farm," she says.  "Having grown herbs and enjoyed their benefits, as a hobby for more than 30 years, I thought about Calendula Officinalis. Homeopaths use this marvellous old herb for soothing and healing traumas and wounds.  It's also known to help reduce scar tissue and can be used as a wash for any injuries, sores, grazes, acne, burns or made into soaps and ointments.  I get wonderful feedback from customers who have used it on eczema, rashes, psoriasis, cold sores, cracked heels, fungal infections, cuts and grazes."

It is important to Pauline that her products don't just look pretty but have real benefits for the skin.  Dairy farmer husband Robert is a willing guinea pig for new products.  She says his favourites are her moisturising shaving soap and hand and heel balm for cracked skin.

Pauline buys calendula seeds from Ashburton and germinates them in trays, having had an early disaster where scattering seed in the garden beds resulted in the weeds winning the race.

Seeds sown in December flower from January to March.  Flowers are harvested regularly to encourage new bud growth.  "Calendula has lovely soft petals which I infuse in oil for eight to ten weeks," says Pauline.  "Then I use the oil to make ointments, balms and other soothing products."

I also pluck and dry the petals to add to my natural soaps."  All the processing and packaging is done in a purpose-built factory/workshop next to the colourful bright orange calendula and herb garden.

Other ingredients Pauline uses include beeswax, shea butter and cocoa butter.  The recipes are her own, although she has perfected her cream, ointment and balm-making skills at herbal remedies courses.

Once she had perfected a range of quality products she set about merketing it.  "I contacted garden circles and Rural Women NZ groups offering to speak to them and received lots of invitations.  "It was quite nerve-wracking at first but I enjoy it now.  "I also have busloads of visitors calling into my calendula garden and I still do some markets, although not as many because the business is very labour-intensive."

 Top seller

Calendula Ointment is her biggest seller for its remarkable healing properties.  Some products are unperfumed, others have essential oils added.  None of Pauline's products contain artificial fragrances, colours, parabens or sodium laurel sulphate.  

She has developed a natural shaving soap and after-shave moisturiser using macadamia nut oil, shea butter.

Her handmade soaps come in ten varieties including Calendula, Lavender & Green Clay, Lavender & Oatmeal, Lavender and Calendula, Tea Tree (for itchy skin and teenage acne), and Goats Milk Soap for sensitive skin, using milk from a local award winning organic farm. 

"Goat's milk is rich in vitamins, minerals, lipids and proteins, giving it wonderful natural moisturising properties and many people with eczema find relief from using it," says Pauline.

After numerous requests from farmers, gardeners, mechanics and artists she has also produced a Pumice Soap that gently scrubs hands clean, leaving hands feeling smooth and moisturised.

A new product is her 100% natural Tattoo Balm, popular with tattoo artists which contains calendula infused oil, beeswax and vitamin E.

"The Travel pack which contains, lip balm, calendula ointment and lavender cream is also very popular because it can be used on cuts, grazes, blisters, insect bites, rashes and more," says Pauline.

"I also sell a lot of bubble bath and mild shampoo which is suitable for babies and children, and soaps shaped like teddy bears, cows and turtles."

Pauline says she will continue growing Infused with Nature because there are so many people with skin problems and I get a lot of enjoyment from helping them."