Carol (front) with daughters Fiona, Janelle and Jacinta
Priest from skincare business Plantae. Photo by Kyra Xavia.
Ring organic skincare business Plantae and ask for a
Priest and there could be a little confusion.
For there are four possible options - the company's founder,
Carol Priest, and her three daughters Janelle (28) and
Jacinta (26), both University of Otago graduates, and Fiona
''We have a joke; if your last name doesn't end in Priest,
you're very lucky to be able to work here,'' Janelle said.
In its 13 months of operation, Plantae products have been
stocked by 57 stores throughout New Zealand.
The company was also exporting to South Korea, the
Netherlands, Australia and the United Kingdom, with
opportunities seen in other export markets.
Both Janelle, who has a double degree in commerce and arts,
and Jacinta, who has a commerce degree, paid tribute to their
tertiary education in Dunedin.
''There is no way that I could be doing what I am doing now
if it wasn't for my degree in marketing.
''With this combined degree, I can be involved in both the
business management and the marketing roles for Plantae,''
Jacinta, who runs the finance department, said she could not
put a value on her degree and the skills and knowledge she
gained while studying in city.
Youngest sister Fiona, who has a design degree from Massey
University, was responsible for the packaging and marketing
It was ''quite amazing'' the three sisters had different
skills, with some crossover, so together they could run a
business from all angles, with their mother being the
experienced product developer and formulator, Jacinta said.
Carol Priest established Carol Priest Natural Cosmetics in
1991 and was a ''pioneer'' in the industry, Janelle said.
In those early years, natural skincare was really only
available in health food stores, but it was becoming more
Joining the business was always in the back of the sisters'
minds. Having grown up among it, it was ''all we've known'',
While they looked at branching out into different careers,
they ended up being drawn back to it.
Working as a family had its advantages, although it was also
very ''all-involving'' and hard to switch off from.
The quartet got on ''pretty well'' and were always flicking
ideas around and discussing issues as they arose.
''Because we all grew up together and perhaps because we are
all women, it is easy for us to understand each other.
''Often we know what each other is thinking with no words
spoken ... although because we are all women, it is fair to
say that there are a lot of words spoken,'' she joked.
Their mother was a very good role model. She was
down-to-earth, level-headed, a great problem solver and
''really walks the talk''.
She also did ''a great job managing us'', Janelle said,
Family members were all equally ambitious and all wanted to
progress in the industry.
They wanted Plantae to be seen as the most premium skincare
range, while also being authentic.
Janelle was constantly reminded by people what a competitive
industry it was.
The quartet recognised that and they had to constantly be
marketing and coming up with ways of engaging consumers.
It was not a glamorous industry, rather it was all about
knuckling down and picking up the phone, getting yourself
''in front of the right people you need to be talking to'',
Arthur Barnett was the first department store to stock
Plantae and there was now interest from other department
stores around New Zealand.