"John and I have two children, Hilary the eldest now vies near Brisbane, Australia and Nicholas. When Nick was three, we emigrated to Australia on the ‘Strathaird’ which took over five weeks. We lived for three and a half years near Canberra and then decided to come to New Zealand which we did in 1961. A move we never regretted.
Once our youngest reached 12 years, I decided I wanted to re-join the work force again and, being very fond of animals I trained to be a Veterinary Nurse, a job I loved, never boring, doing everything in a busy Clinic from Receptionist, helping with the X-rays and operations, and occasionally going out to assist in the field.
I stayed with the same Vet for 20 years and in that time, he opened several Clinics on the North Shore of Auckland and put me in charge of the Onewa Road one.
I was chosen to represent the North Island Vet Nurses to haggle for pay increases and conditions with the Union. Probably where I got to be good at bargaining.
I would fly to Wellington and Christchurch for meetings, staying a few days at a time.
It was then my love of the South Island awakened. When John retired, I did also, but not for long, I soon had a new interest with DHL as a Courier taking documents overseas for them.
John soon excelled in making first class jewelry. After this phase John turned his hand to Wood Turning and other Crafts, as we decided Brown’s Bay, where we lived, needed an Arts and Craft Show, so we gained Council permission and put one on twice yearly for around 80-100 top craft people, coming from far afield. This was held in the larger Recreation Centre which had a Mezzanine floor and a large Kitchen and restaurant area, where I employed kitchen staff to put on tasty lunches and morning and afternoon teas to live music.
Before leaving the Craft Show I had been experimenting with making natural face creams and soaps for my own use, as I was allergic to the commercial ones. We had always kept bees, so naturally I decided Honey and Beeswax would be the main ingredients. I did my homework thoroughly and did a lot of research to decide which herbs and oils were the most beneficial for the skin.
First, I made a Honey Face Cream which proved to be popular with my friends, so I then made a Royal Jelly Cream. I felt I needed a Healing Cream to add to the range, which I decided would have Manuka Honey and New Zealand Tea Tree Oil, as well as Plantain and Chickweed and raw wheatgerm oil. I had tremendously good feedback from the people I tried it out on, and it exceeded all my expectations and cured many skin problems.
With the encouragement of friends, I decided to take them to sell at the Craft Show and to my amazement sold out. Thus encouraged it was all on, so I bought a few hundred pots and started to fill them.
I had a range of the above creams, plus an Olive oil Soap, a Tea Tree Soap, an Oatmeal etc. but when approached by a Chinese man with a view to export, took fright and realised a decision had to be made.
My son saw I was about to give the game away, so he and his business partner, who were looking for a different venture at the time, said they would help me. I was a bit skeptical of this but opted to give it a go and what a wise decision that was.
It was decided to call the newly formed company ‘The Honey Collection’ as it had a nice ring to it. Nick started out as a Rep for both islands and soon had a ready market. The kitchen sink and my Kenwood became redundant, and we had a small building built on his land, where all beavered away wearing many hats.
When next we were approached for export, we were ready, and it was a proud day when we got our first order. We now have many new products all put together with great thought and care.
Such as the Almond Peach Moisturiser we make from our own Almond Milk with ground almonds. We never take the easy route, but make sure we have a product to be proud of.
We were approached by Farmers in Nelson to have a cream to use on cows udders and wounds, so we adapted Manuka Magic and came up with the Rural Wonder (now Equine Magic), which has proved to be a winner.
We were also asked to supply the Royal apartment at Government House and the royal staff who were in attendance when the Queen came out here in 2002 which we gladly did, and the funny thing was that just as the freebies on Aircraft always disappear from the toilets, so did the product in the Royal household; not one was left.
Dr Peter Nolan of Waikato University approached us to make an experimental cream for him with active Manuka Honey, a very special honey with a guaranteed UMF factor of 15+, which we understand was sent to England for experimental use in hospitals for ulcer treatment
We decided to make a further healing cream incorporating this active Manuka Honey, which is excellent for ulcers, burns, wounds, etc.
Whilst on his travels covering the South Island, Nick decided Blenheim was the best place in New Zealand and wanted to relocate here. Nick wanted to make sure it was what we wanted also, and we flew down, were met by Nick and had a tour of the South Island.
We decided he was right so went ahead with the big move. The boys had bought the Factory in Grove Road and the rest, as they say, is history.
I never thought when I decided to make face cream for my own use how it would escalate, but one thing is for sure there has never been a dull moment."