Meet Georgina from Frankie Apothecary - Inspired by traditional wisdom
Meet Georgina from Frankie Apothecary. She is weaving a tapestry of love, family, and business. As a proud member of Ngāti Porou with roots in Samoa, Germany, Rarotonga, and more, her family embodies the beauty of multiculturalism.
OHbaby!: Tell us about yourself
Kia ora, my name is Georgina (Ngāti Porou). I’ve lived all over Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland, from Manurewa to Onehunga but at the moment, Mission Bay is home where I live with my husband Matt (also the other half of Frankie) and my kind-hearted, fun-loving daughter Ruby-Grace. I love adventures with my family whether it’s climbing Rangitoto, cycling the Old Coach Road in Ohakune or checking out hot pools around the country. Snowboarding was my obsession before having Ruby-Grace but unfortunately, despite my best efforts, she’s not a fan – yet. It’s definitely something I want to get back into though.
OHbaby!: What does your family look like?
We’re a family of three and lucky enough to have a range of ethnicities converge in our little whānau. With my Samoan, German, Māori and Rarotongan heritage and Matt’s English and Scottish ancestry, we’re quite a diverse little household. My Mum speaks Samoan to Ruby-Grace and we try to weave in te reo Māori, picking up more kupu/words along the way on our own journey.
One thing that has influenced our family journey was discovering our girl had a growth in her ear two years ago that had caused significant and recurrent ear infections unbeknownst to us or our GP at the time. It wasn’t until we insisted on seeing a specialist that a rare benign growth was found and removed with urgency. It means she now wears a hearing aid in one ear. I’m grateful we caught it when we did but I wish I had followed my gut instinct sooner. After that experience I am a big believer in Mother’s intuition. If in doubt, seek a second opinion and who cares if someone thinks you’re an anxious mother!
OHbaby!: What is your business and what does it do/sell?
Frankie Apothecary was one of the first businesses to share the natural healing power of Kawakawa with New Zealanders at scale, starting with our much-loved, multi-award winning Kawakawa Repair Balm, specially created for little ones and adults struggling with eczema-prone and sensitive skin. Our range has grown to include Natural Sun Defence SPF40, a light natural sunscreen that suited for all skin types but especially those with sensitive skin, our beautiful botanical Kakadu Facial Oil and Bakuchiol Rejuvenate Serum, and very popular haircare bars such as our Kūmarahou & Kawakawa Shampoo Bar which uses native kumarahou; known for its skin-soothing properties. We love being able to share the beauty of New Zealand native botanicals and traditional remedies with more and more people.
OHbaby!: What is the story behind your business?
My interest in natural skincare began with a trip to a fertility specialist who told me the chemicals in the sun product I used every day could be affecting the balance of hormones in my body. I couldn’t believe that products I had bought in the supermarket could have this effect. I immediately swapped out my chemical sunscreen for a natural option and started looking more closely at the ingredients in the products I was using. Talk about eye opening!
Around this time, I was lucky enough to meet the founder of Frankie. Her daughter had suffered with severe eczema to the point she would often wake with blood on her sheets from scratching at night. Just heartbreaking. Her Dad suggested she try using Kawakawa, a much-revered traditional rongoā rākau remedy (Māori plant remedy) often used for skin conditions. She created the first pot of Frankie’s Kawakawa Repair and it soothed and calmed her daughter’s skin in a little over a week. Word soon spread to the Mums at kindy, school and the wider community and before she knew it she had a thriving business on her hands. When she needed to devote herself to another mission-driven business, I was fortunate enough to take the helm of Frankie. Talk about right time, right place.
OHbaby!: What does a day in the life of you look like?
I try not to dash through my days but it can be tricky fitting mahi/work into the compressed timeframe of a school day and still stay present – a work in progress! Now that Ruby-Grace is a bit older, I usually have the luxury of being able to start my day with some reflective quiet time. This settles my mind and helps me prepare for the day. On the days I rush into things I never quite feel like it’s started properly.
After a quick shower and my low-fuss skincare routine – Bakuchiol Rejuvenate Serum and Frankie Natural Sun Defense SPF40 which I use all year around – then it’s into getting Ruby-Grace ready and off to school. After school drop-off I brief our dispatch team with any big orders on the horizon and stock levels or concerns before catching up with the amazing team of talented people I work with, most remotely. My focus is on building relationships with our network of retailers, exploring new channels and export opportunities, new product development and planning communications. I have a health science background, so I love researching the benefits of how different ingredients and botanicals support skin health and will weave some of this into the day too. Unless I have a pickup arranged by my Mum or Matt’s Mum, then it’s back to school and time with my girl before getting dinner underway.
OHbaby!: What is your favourite thing about your business?
Hands down it has to be hearing how much our products have helped pēpi/babies and their families living with itchy or eczema-prone skin or touchy scalps. Receiving those emails and reading those reviews just puts the biggest smile on my face and makes the hard days in business all worth it.
OHbaby!: Favourite product?
Gosh, it’s so hard to choose! I love Kawakawa Repair for its ability to calm and soothe everything form itchy skin and nappy rash to bug bites and dry skin. A close second is Natural Sun Defence SPF40, released last year. It’s so hard to find a good natural sunscreen that doesn’t make you look like a ghost! While getting rid of that last bit of whitening is no easy task, I love where we got to with this product and I use it everyday under makeup. A customer shared a tip that she mixes a little of her foundation with it before applying. It will affect the SPF slightly but I thought it was genius!
OHbaby!: Any fun stories you would like to share?
I would but my family may not like me sharing them so Mum’s the word.
OHbaby!: What is one thing you said you wouldn’t do as a parent that you totally do?
I was a very idealistic pre-parent about lots of things and was going to avoid all plastic toys. Until they flooded in the door as gifts and my daughter discovered her favourite toy was one of the most annoying, jingly plastic ones ever created! I read the funniest thing a while ago. ‘Perfect parents exist. They just haven’t had kids yet.’ That about sums it up.
OHbaby!: Anything else you want to add...
Before taking over Frankie I was so fortunate to spend a year studying rongoā rākau (Māori herbal medicine) and it blew my mind. I learnt about the incredible properties of so many native plants and I regularly use some of these remedies to support our wellbeing during winter, especially Kūmarhaou which is fantastic for coughs and colds. It was also a wonderful way to reconnect with my Māori heritage and for that I am so grateful.
I used to be a physiotherapist and in my mid-thirties up sticks and started studying advertising and marketing as a mature student. Talk about exploring opposite ends of the workforce! I love that Frankie Apothecary combines my health background and love for wellbeing with the business skills of marketing and communication.
One thing we do is have our Kawakawa harvested on high energy days of the Maramataka, the traditional Māori lunar calendar, when the plant is believed to be at its best, with karakia and traditional practices. There’s so much wisdom in the ways of our tīpuna/ancestors and as well as honouring the gift we have been given we believe it adds a special goodness to what we create.