"If you went on school camp with Wiki, she would be the one to have packed plasters, Dettol, delicious sandwiches, the gas cooker and soft blankets...but also would have a sneaky bottle of whisky for beside the camp fire!"
Wiki is the founder of Wiki Skincare. When I meet Wiki, I have already spoken to her on the phone. We have never met, but she suggests catching up at the Bresolin. We take a spot in the room upstairs, and Wiki orders some mineral water. We also have a glass of Rose. I’ve tried Wiki’s products, and loved them, and by the end of the hour and a half we spend talking, I love Wiki too.
Wiki is like a cool, street savvy but nurturing big sister. Her face is round and sprinkled with freckles, virtually no makeup at all, and capped with unicorn-pastel purple soft hair. I can tell that if you went on school camp with Wiki, she would be the one to have packed plasters, Dettol, delicious sandwiches, the gas cooker and soft blankets, but also would have a sneaky bottle of whisky for beside the camp fire.
A life in two Acts: "I did love to be in the spotlight"
Wiki has lived her life in two acts. The first is the Wiki of Wellington’s hospitality. The second, Wiki the Mum and skincare maven. At 18, Wiki moved back to Wellington from Whangamata (via a brief interlude of study at Whitireia). She began to work her way through hospitality in Wellington “I did love to be in the spotlight” she remembers. “It was nice to be a bartender - you were always needed but never wholly monopolised. It’s a pretty cool job to hang out in a bar and make people delicious drinks”.
Wiki has worked in some of Wellington’s favourite cafes and haunts; Sandwiches, The Matterhorn, Havana, Fidels, Indigo, Paradiso, Studio 9, Plum, Maranui and Scopa to name a few. Her first ‘real’ hospitality job was Atlanta on the terrace.
At the same time, she was also working at Studio 9 - Wellington’s only underground dance club. “It was home to some of my favs: Bass Frontiers and Fun poison. Cuffy and Leon D, in the 9 bar”. Studio 9 was on Edward Street, above where Meow Bar is now. I admit to Wiki I remember going to certain under-age raves at Sub-9, which was located close.
“Oh yeah, they opened Sub-9 close to the end of my working there.” Wiki says. Friend Jonnie Halstead (Wanderlust) poached her from Atlanta (and Studio 9) to go and work at Wellington bar ‘Paradiso’. This is where Wiki met some of her best friends. The Wellington Wiki remembers was a little different back then. “It was less stylish. I was less stylish. A lot less restaurants. Hospitality felt a lot smaller back then. If you were in hospitality, you generally knew everybody throughout the whole group of bars and cafes. It was a tight knit group. It was pretty fun to be in hospitality during the early 2000’s.”
“He gave me his Alfa, a full tank of petrol, red-bull, cigarettes and sparkling water. I drove well past the speed limit to get to her funeral on time.”
Wiki’s lived in Japan. She’s travelled around Europe, Australia and Thailand. The next memorable shift came for Wiki was when she was about to move overseas. She had been offered a job in Dubai working with Leon Surynt of the Matterhorn.
“After many years in Wellington, I was working at Maranui, and living near the beach but I just needed to get out and travel again.” But a week into her travels around Thailand her Koru passed away, followed shortly by her Nana. Wiki had made a pact with her cousin Estelle that if this happened she would come home to New Zealand. She travelled for 2 days from Koh PhiPhi, where she had been making a en-route visit to Dubai, and flew back Wellington. At the airport, she was greeted by her partner Leonardo Bresolin. “He gave me his Alfa, a full tank of petrol, red-bull, cigarettes and sparkling water. I drove well past the speed limit to get to her funeral on time.” A modern day prince charming can’t do much better than that.
As for her partner, it’s clear that Wiki isn’t just in it for the pizza (although that would be excusable).“I saw Leonardo when I was working at Atlanta” Wiki explains “back in 2002. I worked with one of his brothers, Haakon ( 2 more Brothers, Thor and Lorenzo worked around the corner). I saw him dropping off Enzo. I even remember what he was wearing. It wasn’t until 2006 that we really met and connected and that was when they were opening Scopa”. I ask Wiki whether meeting someone entrepreneurial was part of her own journey to becoming entrepreneurial herself. “Definitely” Wiki replies “He’s very inspiring - he is the most hard-working person I have ever met. He is honest, humble and always strives to be better or do better in order to encourage others to also do better. If there is something that needs fixing he will put his hand up to do it first. His determination to do better in his own life, and for Our life with Our boys, encourages me to push myself, to do something and make it mine, and make it awesome”.
"After we had Remiro, I found I couldn't afford to buy the natural skincare products I'd been using"
Wiki Skincare came about through necessity. “After we had Remiro (Wiki’s oldest son), I found I couldn’t afford to buy the natural skincare products I’d been using. I looked and researched how to make my own - something natural and nourishing for my skin and most importantly - affordable”. After a while she began making products as gifts for friends. It was Wiki’s mother-in-law Fay was the first person to buy the products off her “I will always remember that - she had so much faith in me”. Wiki was encouraged by her strong support crew and put her product out on Facebook to sell it for Mother’s day. She sold quite a few, and the brand blossomed from there.
Juggling a business, a 3 and 5 year old is a bit of a circus act for Wiki. “Part of having a job that I am able to control, is the freedom that it gives me to be a Mother. So if something happens I can drop that and be Mum. I work at home, which helps. Don’t worry, no little fingers get into pots” she laughs. “I do make a lot of products while they are asleep - I know they are tucked up in bed. It helps relieve the stress of my day. The boys are gorgeous. They are also very trying. I have learnt so much patience since having them. Can’t put them on TradeMe, so I have to find a job to help me be a better person, and a better Mum”.
“I’ve learnt a lot of wonderful things from a lot of wonderful people.”
Wiki has also learnt lessons from her travels - about cultures and traditions, her work in hospitality - how to balance flavours, skills in the kitchen, management, and family life - patience and hard work, which she applies to her work in skincare. But it is the range of diverse and wonderful people that she has met that have helped the most. Friends lend a hand, or share any knowledge from beauty therapy and marketing to photography and proof reading. Wiki’s mother also shares her experience of natural remedies and essential oils with her daughter. All help in developing the skincare products. “I’ve learnt a lot of wonderful things from a lot of wonderful people.”
The response to Wiki’s products has been extraordinary. But Wiki remains humble and grateful. She thinks Wellington has been the best place to start a business, and a skincare range, crediting the many people that have put their hands up and tried her products, helped with design and branding, stocking the product (such as Let Liv). From the local businesses that do labelling and packaging to the herbalist she visits - each person has had a part to play in building her brand. “Wellingtonians are into new things, and giving new things a try” Wiki explains, “Wellingtonians like to look good, in Our ever changing climate”. Wiki is part of that local story.
“It reminds me of Aperol spritz and sunset along the Amalfi coast”.
A lot of thought and research and development has gone into Wiki’s range. The products have a magic, all of their own. They are 100% natural, oil based beauty products, designed for sensitive skin, with active ingredients, built to make your whole self feel better. The products Wiki most loves the coffee scrub “It makes you feel good, smell good” and the Invigorating Body oil “it reminds me of Aperol spritz and sunset along the Amalfi coast”. Wiki wants to continue to be hands on with her business, making the products as long as possible.
Wiki also has hopes for the future, for herself and Wellington. “I would love to work in a warehouse with all my friends making furniture - but because it’s Wellington, that kind of thing can actually happen. I don’t want to see Wellington getting any higher. I think there should be more green area kept and added into the city. If that means no cars then awesome. I love my car but I’m happy to catch the bus. I think Wellington should remain a small city and the only thing I think Wellington really needs is to change is to take down that Wellywood sign! Let’s keep being unique”.