Kōrero with Natalie Jones from Seasick Sunscreen Co.

October 26, 2023
With summer on the way, we caught up with Natalie Jones owner and founder of Seasick Sunscreen co.
Nat's a passionate conservationist, who loves to be outdoors, and knows the importance of wearing sunblock every day. Which is why she went on a mission to create a sunscreen you can wear daily, that's ocean-friendly, in plastic-free packaging to protect us from the sun, without harming the environment. 
Kia ora Nat, thank you for taking the time to korero with us! What motivated you to start Seasick Sunscreen Co?

The ocean's is my happy place and what drives my passion for Seasick Sunscreen Co.

What experience did you have when you first started out (both business and practical)?

I was trying to work my full-time job in conservation, study te reo Māori AND start a business so I burnt out pretty quickly. Thankfully I have now made the decision to make Seasick Sunscreen Co my full-time job from February 2023 so I can focus my efforts on growing the business.

Seasick Sunscreen is made from naturally-derived ingredients, and plastic free! Can you tell us a bit about that?

Conventional sunscreens are made with a long list of chemical UV filters that can be harmful to marine life and irritate sensitive skin and eyes. Seasick Sunscreen is made with just 7 carefully selected ingredients and packaged in a plastic free tin. Most sunscreens come in a single-use plastic bottle and because they can’t be properly cleaned they go straight into landfill – I wanted to make a plastic-free, recyclable sunscreen option easily accessible for people.

 If you don’t mind sharing, how did you raise the putea to get started in your pakihi? Did you start small & build? Get investment etc?

I bootstrapped it! That meant taking a leap of faith and emptying my personal savings into my business account. Then earlier this year I was lucky enough to get a $10K grant through the Kōkiri Māori Business Accelerator and I am currently receiving some support through Te Puni Kōkiri.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a Pakihi Māori, that is just starting out?
Whanaungatanga is what is going to get you through the tough times – building a network of fellow entrepreneurs and mentors who get what you are going through around you is absolutely key. I’ve just been through some really tough times with my business and without the support of my pakihi whānau I think I would have given up by now.

You have an awesome presence on social media! Can you tell us how Social media has helped your pakihi?

Social media is a funny one – I used to dread posting because I thought every post had to look and sound perfect. I put so much pressure on myself that I ended up not really posting much at all. Finally I made a decision just to post whatever I felt like, often with no editing and it felt so much better. People loved the honesty and transparency too and I enjoy being myself!

 I’ve recently been able to employ a Māori VA who is helping me produce some great content too!

What is one challenge that you have overcome, in your business? Can you tell us about it?

This year I have been trying to upscale the business – this meant outsourcing manufacture as I was making all the sunscreen myself, in my kitchen in 8kg batches. Since May this year I have been working to outsource manufacture to a small family-owned operation in Auckland. Everything was lined up beautifully and my first 100kg batch was due to be produced just in time for summer. 6 weeks after the planned production date, I got a call from them to say they were having a number of issues on their end and they had no production date for my sunscreen booked. I was devastated as this meant emailing my customers to let them know there would be major delays to their orders, at one stage I thought I might not have any sunscreen for summer at all! As I type this, the situation is still unfolding so you will have to follow my social media if you want to see what the outcome is!

Having your own pakihi can be hard. What motivates you to keep going?

Protecting Papatūānuku is my life’s work and I will keep going as long as my mahi is making a positive impact to her.

Celebrating the day-to-day wins is important, what do you (and your team or whanau) do to celebrate your wins?

Little spontaneous dances haha!

What is the most rewarding part about being a business owner?

Paving your own path is pretty special. I love being creative and I get to work on a bunch of different things and learn new skills every single day.

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