Small Business: Hair products the crowning glory for mum

Small Business: Hair products the crowning glory for mum

Advertising executive signs Korean deal for her creation and sets sights on America.

Products are often created because the maker has a personal need.

Pineapple Heads, the children’s hair care range launched in September, is the brainchild of Auckland mum and advertising executive Megan Sanders.

Unable to find what she considered quality, natural products for her young son’s unruly hair, Sanders created a range of her own. It was designed to have natural ingredients and to appeal to children with fun, colourful characters and smells.

Sanders, who has been in advertising for 17 years, has a day job as a business director at agency Unity. After getting her son to bed by 7pm, Pineapple Heads work often keeps her busy until midnight.

“I took a leap. I could buy a property or take a risk with this business,” she says. “The starting point for me was having the idea and finding someone to help with the range’s formulas.”

Sanders approached Kate Robertson, who develops organic lotions for a number of brands. She had to sell Mt Eden-based Robertson on the idea. “After 2 hours, she said, ‘We have to do this’.”

Next Sanders found a French perfumier who travels to New Zealand regularly to help her with scents.

The range is formulated, produced and packaged in New Zealand and was tested on Sanders’ friends and their children.

“It was tested on children, not animals,” she quips. Her son Jimmy, now 20 months, slept with the conditioner for two days, she says.

Her first sales port of call was Servilles of Ponsonby. “It sold out of products in four days.”

Sanders thought the hair salon was a good place to approach mothers, as they were indulging themselves. “Servilles got what we were trying to do,” she says.

The biggest sales channel is through the website, which takes orders from around the country and overseas. The range is also retailing in salons and children’s specialist stores such as Peppin boutique, Dimples and Fringe in Auckland.

The Pineapple Heads detangler product is the biggest seller in the market. The detangler costs $28.50, hair wax is $25.50 and shampoo and conditioner are $26.50 each.

Sanders’ Pineapple Heads “road map” has 25 products. “I decided not to start with a big bang.”

From her advertising perspective, she is interested in testing the range’s branding and how the products are sitting in the market. Other products she is working on include a bubble bath and a body wash, and she is considering developing a sunscreen.

Social media are key. “People are writing on their blog sites about me – other mums,” says Sanders.

She is talking to New Zealand department stores such Smith & Caughey, and also has an eye on Australian chains Myer and David Jones.

“Australia, that’s the mission,” says Sanders, who is looking for an Australian distributor.

An international export deal to Korea, with an order of 8000 units, has been signed and Hong Kong and Singapore are potential markets. America is also in her sights.

If she had an approach from a supermarket, Sanders says she might consider creating a sub-brand.

“I think for me, I’ve got a business plan and strategy. The road map is very clear, it’s quite easy to make these decisions with that in mind.”

Top tip

Lots of people have good ideas but only the brave ones do it – take the risk, life is short.
Best business achievement: “Seeing my range coming off the production line and realising that I had done it. It is now a reality.”

By Gill South Email Gill

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