The Natural HealthGiving Company managing director Michelle
Facer-Wood (centre), flanked by staff members Toyah Binns
(left), who is a university intern, and Amy Jarvie, with
some of the company's products. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
It's not every day that you get an email from Claudia
So when Michelle Facer-Wood, managing director of
Dunedin-based The Natural HealthGiving Company, received such
an email, she recalled being ''completely in awe''.
The nanny was emailing to report that they had tried
''everything'' to fix a skin irritation that the
international supermodel's daughter had, before settling on
That was a product that Mrs Facer-Wood had originally
developed for her son Jaxon and the nanny reported that it
had cleared the irritation up ''in no time''.
''To know it had got into the hands of somebody famous . . .
for it to be spread that far, from this little lab space in
Dunedin, was pretty awesome,'' Mrs Facer-Wood said.
Originally from Millers Flat, Mrs Facer-Wood pursued a career
in the corporate environment but looked for a change after
the birth of her second child.
Not knowing what she wanted to do, she saw an advertisement
for a technician in a laboratory and joined company founder
Dr Travis Blood.
She also was driven to find a natural product for her son,
who was diagnosed with atopic dermatitis before he turned 2.
Mrs Facer-Wood was unhappy with options given to her by
specialists and decided to make a cream, using colloidal
silver, that would be effective for his condition.
She also started researching what was available in the market
and found there was a ''real gap'' for such a product.
She and Dr Blood worked extensively together, formulating and
testing Xmaease, which was launched in 2008, and making
Natural Sense colloidal silver.
In 2008, Mrs Facer-Wood bought HealthGiving as Dr Blood moved
to Australia, and renamed it The Natural HealthGiving Company
After starting with very few customers, Xmaease was now
stocked in more than 600 pharmacies and health stores
She was working on a body wash, to go with the cream, that
should be out in August, while still producing colloidal
The latest addition to the range was Mum's Secret, a
multipurpose cream in a tube that was ''creating a bit of a
storm'' after its launch on the New Zealand market last year.
When Mrs Facer-Wood walked into a pharmacy or health store,
she was ''bedazzled'' by all the creams and options and it
was difficult to make an educated choice, she said.
Most natural products had a shelf life and, being ''quite
hot'' on environmental issues, she was concerned about the
amount of product that was thrown out, ending up in
Mum's Secret was used for many conditions, including stretch
marks, nappy rash, chafing and athletes foot, and as an
after-sun or after-shave cream.
Based in the old Roslyn Mill in Kaikorai Valley Rd, in
premises that once housed the woollen dye laboratories, she
worked closely with two manufacturing companies in
Christchurch and Auckland.
The business operated between 9am and 3pm, which allowed her
the freedom to see her young son after school.
While not ''9 to 5'', the job was ''pretty much 24/7''
because it was constantly in her head. But it had got to a
point where it was both fun and manageable, she said.
''I've managed to not consume my life with work so much. It's
very, very enjoyable to be able to work like that.''
Mrs Facer-Wood loved working for herself and being able to
make decisions ''on the spot'' and she also enjoyed being
involved in an industry that was helping people.
''You can't help but get a real buzz out of it.''
The brand was becoming more recognised and the company had
experienced consistent growth. Already, it exported on a
small scale to the UK and also to Australia, with Mum's
Developing further export opportunities, particularly in the
Asian market, and ''really getting the brands recognised''
was a focus this year. She also wanted to increase the range
of products in the future.
Mrs Facer-Wood acknowledged she had learned a lot, from the
logistics of managing a business to marketing and designing
packaging, and it had all been ''on the job'' training.
''I wouldn't have it any other way. It's exciting. There's no
room for getting bored ... I can't imagine doing anything
else at the moment,'' she said.