Hawea woman’s aim True

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 outlets nationally.

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 packets.

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, she said.

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 lives.

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.