Holistic skincare company founder Nicki Hanning draws
inspiration from the Wanaka area. Photo by Simon Darby.
Nicki Hanning has whipped up all sorts of things in her
kitchen - including several businesses.
First it was Nicola's Organics, which started from making
muesli, developed into a business and was later sold.
Now, the Lake Hawea woman's latest venture involves a range
of certified organic skincare products which are being sold
nationally under the True brand.
Mrs Hanning (40), a mother of two, has been a long-time
passionate advocate of healthy living, while not being
obsessed about it.
Originally from Cheltenham, a small settlement in the
Manawatu, she completed a diploma in advertising at the
Auckland University of Technology.
After meeting her future husband Jamie, she moved to Ohakune
where her husband owned a ski shop and she established a
mobile catering unit, selling gourmet burgers to skiers.
In hindsight, while she studied advertising after leaving
school, her real passion at the time was food, but she did
not think too much about doing something with it, she said.
After three years in Ohakune, Mrs Hanning spent back-to-back
winters in Japan and the United States, before returning to
New Zealand and working in the catering industry.
Nicola's Organics was born in her kitchen when she started
making her own muesli.
It then quickly went from being stocked in a few organic
stores to being on the shelves of more than 200 retail
After two years, the business was sold to Harraways, a
Dunedin firm from which she had sourced organic oats. The
range continued to be sold, with her signature on the back of
Mr and Mrs Hanning shifted to Wanaka in 2002 and Mrs Hanning,
who is also a massage therapist, set up a mobile massage
business and also managed some lodges.
When she got very dry skin, she started looking at products
on the market but ''none really cut the mustard''.
She researched how to make her own skincare products and
started formulating concoctions.
She likened it to cooking - she loved baking and food and it
was all about using various ingredients to feed her skin.
While developing the range, she also had two children, now
aged 3 and 6.
In the early days, she was selling her products to Soulfood
in Wanaka and to family and friends. Now, True was being
stocked by about 25 retailers nationally, with the products
manufactured in Auckland.
The business could only grow as fast as she could grow with
it, as her children were such a very big part of her life.
She was fortunate to have a ''fabulous'' husband, who was
very patient and a good leveller, while she was the dreamer,
When it came to the True brand, her mantra ''to be your true
authentic self'', was her inspiration.
It was about her own journey since becoming a mother, about
learning how to live authentically and be your own self and
to not try and put huge expectations on yourself and be
''superwoman'', she said.
She wanted to empower women and each True product came with a
My Handful of Quiet insert that offered inspiration for women
to find their own ''place of calm'' in their everyday busy
The skincare market was ''really saturated'' and, in the last
few years, many had ''jumped on the bandwagon'' and were
promoting organic products.
It was all about being authentic and her range was certified
through organic certification agency BioGro.
While export opportunities were definitely something to focus
on in the future, she wanted to ''do her homework'' and make
the business a success in New Zealand first, she said.
Mrs Hanning signed up to CompanyOfWomen, a group of
entrepreneurial women, and said it was good to connect with
other women and bounce ideas off each other.
Mrs Hanning fitted in work around family life and her ''me
time'' involved going for a walk or run.