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She’s an Eastern Bay local with pigtails in her hair. He’s a lad from the North with a twinkle in his eye.
Their business was once called Bossy but, after legal action from international fashion house Hugo Boss, now goes by the name of Bonbon.
Stephanie Peacocke and Josh Edlin are the magic behind a rapidly building cosmetics business that, for the past year, has had a Whakatane postcode.
Bonbon lovingly creates a range of vegan body products that dance across your senses – the colours set your sights alight while the smells get your salivary glands going.
Everything is fun, and primary and reminiscent of childhood.
Products are stocked in close to 300 stores nationwide and, in 2017, will be introduced to the Australian market.
Born in Waimana at the foot of Te Urewera, Stephanie was third generation on the family farm. A move to rural Reporoa saw the youngster attend Reporoa School before her Dad gave farming away and bought a yacht.
“We [the family] sailed around the Pacific Islands for two years. I guess that’s where my infatuation with the sea was born.”
She has worked as a web designer and a homeobotanical therapist but Stephanie’s “happy place” has always been in the kitchen with her mother’s “making natural skin care” book in hand.
Josh is a builder, born in Whangarei and raised in Upper Hutt.
Eight years ago the then strangers were both living and working in Taupo. Josh was building spec homes in Kinloch and employed Stephanie’s son.
“We met and blended with two older children [mine], two younger ones [Joshs’] and a whole lot of love.”
Stephanie has always wanted to make her own way in the world and together, the pair were intent on “finding their collaborative space” in the marketplace.
“We recognised, between us, we had some pretty good skills, so went about finding a way to put them to use,” Josh said.
The couple initially imported make up brushes and secured a place for them on the shelves of Farmers Trading Company stores.
Following the success of the brushes, Stephanie poured all her creative passion into laying the foundations of a business that made “delightful bath, body and beauty products” to bring “joy and delight” to customers.
In October 2014, Bossy launched its first product, the Makeup Brush Cleaning Kit, and soon found they had calls for more.
Experimentation and invention in the kitchen:
The summer of 2014 turned out to be a season of trialling and testing in what became known as the Bossy kitchen. Initially it was the garage of the couple’s Taupo home.
“The first product out of the kitchen was our coffee scrub which was so totally yummy it still remains a favourite,” Stephanie said.
Now the list is vast and varied with everything a play on food, and baking and deliciousness. So much so that when you lift a lid you have to resist the temptation to dip your finger into the jar and put it in your mouth.
Tingles Bath Fizz in Blue Lemonade and Pineapple looks like jelly crystals although smell even better than the childhood treat.
Cookie Dough Scrub, yes seriously, comes in Vanilla, Coconut, Banana, Orange Cake and Raspberry Shortcake, while you could be forgiven for actually trying to cook the Pavlova Body Butter. The aroma and consistency are that close to the before oven mix it’s uncanny.
There’s Gelato Scrubs and Macaroon Scrubs, and Unicorn Fluff Body Wash and Shave Mousse and Vanilla and Whiskey Deodorant and Mocha Face Wash Whip and Sweet and Vanillary Cream Perfume.
And there’s a men’s line called Handsome As Hell, and there’s hair care products and there’s makeup stuff.
All are 100 percent handmade and 100 percent vegan Bonbon even has the PETA seal of approval.
“Why vegan,” Stephanie says. “The aim was always to produce quality products without using animals in any way. And because it also means noone misses out. Whoever you are and whatever you like – you can shop with us.”
A year ago the business was continuing to enjoy growth to the point a bigger space to create, and cook and box was needed.
Stephanie and Josh were also aware the Taupo climate wasn’t really what they loved.
“The Eastern Bay has the weather and the water and we are now happily ensconced in this town. We love the homeliness and Kiwiness, the fishing, the swimming, the outdoors – it’s all really awesome stuff,” Stephanie said.
“And while there has to be significant forward planning regarding ordering ingredients, we don’t have to be in a big city to be successful.
Since coming to the Eastern Bay, the Bonbon/Bossy kitchen has been housed in three different locations – all within a 200 metre radius of each other. They keep outgrowing their premises.
While being interviewed for Bay of Plenty Business News, the Bonbon team were setting up at their third home. Stephanie was unwrapping a unicorn head to adorn the wall. Nothing was more fitting for the place they create their magic.
What’s in a name?
The name Bossy was Stephanie’s idea.
She wanted something that sounded international and cosmetic and vibrant.
Bossy it was until “something triggered someone” connected to Hugo Boss and the suits came knocking – figuratively.
“We were told Bossy sounded a little too similar to Hugo Boss and it was inappropriate to be trading under that name,” she said.
Rather than take on an expensive legal battle, the couple negotiated a transition period with Hugo Boss representatives, to change their name. Bossy Cosmetics became Bonbon Cosmetics and the vegan line is now Bonbon Vegan.
“Within the transition we printed new labels, swapping out anything already on our products with our stockists and got ready to move into the bigger factory.
“It’s been a bit stressful but it’s done and we are glad.”
Success and feedback;
Josh and Stephanie believe the key to their success has been organic growth.
Stephanie says if they’d been given a huge sum of money to establish a largescale kitchen and start making a mass of products, they would have been “out on their backsides” some time ago.
“Because we’ve made things onebyone and put them out into the market place, we’ve been able to garner feedback. In essence, we’ve only been able to grow with what people like.”
They have also always tried to do the right thing by their customers by ensuring there is love in every container leaving the kitchen.
“Nothing was really planned, it’s just happening.”
Both say they are ecstatic to have created a unique of line products that make people happy. Josh knows many businesses receive only negative feedback but Bonbon seems to inspire customers to get in touch with messages of love.
“Every day, via social media and our website, we get hundreds of messages from people wanting to tell us they love our products, or that what we make makes them smile.
“It’s a fantastic way to start each day.”
Bonbon are planning to launch across the ditch at the 2017 Australian Gift Fair, a nextstep they describe as exciting, nervewracking
They also plan to host an open day at the new Bonbon premises in Whakatane.
And to keep spreading the love by letting their cosmetics speak for themselves.