Meet Our Makers | Lewin And Reilly
This week we had the pleasure of chatting with the founder of natural skincare brand, Lewin and Reilly, Kim. We are proud stockists of Lewin and Reilly, one of the most luscious organic skincare brands on the natural beauty market. And just like the pristine environment of Waiheke Island in New Zealand where Lewin and Reilly is produced, the products are as close to nature as you can get. During a life-changing holiday to the Cook Islands, Kim and partner Andi, were left awestruck at the abundance of wild botanical produce around them and returned home with a vision to discover the myriad of health properties of the botanicals closer to home, in Australia and New Zealand. Lewin and Reilly is ‘100% us for you’, with Kim and Andi proudly overseeing all aspects of their business from sourcing organic growers to honest marketing.
What was the original inspiration behind Lewin and Reilly?
The original inspiration behind Lewin & Reilly came when we were on honeymoon in the Cook Islands, on a beautiful atoll called Aitutaki…it really was life-changing. Everything there grows abundantly - naturally organic and hence without the need for pesticides, so to say we were feeling incredibly healthy, happy and content is an understatement. When you’re in such a stunning natural environment and eating so well, you feel different. The simplicity of life there makes you realise that is how life should be. Not caught up in working 24/7 to be able to buy more stuff you don’t need, but taking time out to be quiet, in the moment, enjoying nature and nourishing your body and mind. We honestly were trying to work out how we could live there forever, and came up with the idea of opening a coconut oil production facility (there are coconuts everywhere on Aitutaki, as you would imagine!). We quickly realised this would be tricky to set up upon travelling back home to Melbourne at the time, so we began experimenting with making natural balms and soaps at home. One thing led to another, we found these amazing farms, growers and suppliers all throughout Australia and the islands of the South Pacific, our formulations became more complex as we learnt more over the course of a year and a half and the rest, as they say, is history.
We love that Lewin And Reilly is created in the beautiful Waiheke Island in New Zealand. How has the environment around you influenced the way you do business as an organic skincare brand?
Being back on Waiheke is so wonderful in so many ways, we really are lucky to live in such a special part of the world. We originally moved here just over 11 years ago, before moving to Melbourne, and then back to Waiheke again. So for us, Waiheke really has always felt like home. It has changed a fair bit since we were originally here (it’s much, much busier and more expensive now), but it greatly influences so much of our lives, including all that we do for Lewin & Reilly. Waiheke is a very beautiful clean and green island with a lot of people of that mindset (including us!). So the natural environment surrounding us here is hugely inspiring. We have manuka and kanuka trees all around our house and neighbourhood where the Tui’s (an exquisite native new Zealand bird) sing away to each other, and we actually use kanuka in a few of our products. So sometimes when I’m out for a walk I stop and look up at the kanuka trees with that thought and connection in my mind.
You source organic ingredients from biodynamic farms, plantations and growers locally in New Zealand but also from Australia and even Fiji. How do you go about sourcing the purest ingredients for your products? What do you factor in when choosing a supplier?
For us, we felt there was virtually no focus within the skin care industry as to where ingredients are sourced from. With the shift in focus on where our food comes from (speaking generally, within society) with things like the “Farm to Table” philosophy, we decided to go one step further with our ethos “Luxurious Organic Skin Care From Place To Face”. This means that we focus on sourcing direct from farms in regions close to where we produce the collection; New Zealand, Australia and the islands of the South Pacific. These countries are geographically isolated, therefore their native flora is distinct and thrives in its natural environment, producing higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants. These areas are known globally as being pristine too.
So when we go about choosing a supplier, first and foremost they have to be within these regions. Then they have to be growing organically, certified organic, wild harvesting their ingredients or growing bio-dynamically. Next, their ingredients have to have never been tested on animals, and they have to sign a written statement that this is the case, plus that they will never test on animals. And finally, their ingredients have to be either native, somehow unique or rare and of superior quality.
Was there a defining moment in your life that made you switch to clean beauty and natural skincare?
When I was younger, I had access to every “luxury” skin care and makeup brand that you can think of, and there was no thought for how these products and their ingredients were affecting my health. I’ve always eaten well, and been mildly obsessed with green vegetables, but my skin would always look and feel either very dry or excessively oily and congested. In my mid-teens I started using quite a popular brand that has been around for many years who mostly use natural ingredients, and although they were as expensive as some of the perceived “luxury” brands I had been using, I was happy to make the switch after seeing such an improvement in my complexion.
Andi and I met working on cruise ships together (I was a professional dancer working in the production cast and Andi was a sommelier - wine expert). Pretty quickly we realised we had a serious thing for each other and after my contract, I moved to New Zealand to live with him. It was while I was there that I discovered quite a popular NZ brand who also use natural, and now even some organic ingredients. I’d never heard of them before, but now they are everywhere (yet still maintain their integrity). Having made the switch to this brand from an already quite natural one, I noticed an even greater improvement in my skin. So I have actually been using natural and low percentage organic brands for quite some time. Of course, when we started formulating Lewin & Reilly, I really saw how good skin care could be, and how much good it can do for your skin. Both mine and Andi’s skin has never looked or felt better, and I think our families, friends and of course our customers are quite overwhelmed with the results they’re seeing and experiencing too!
Running a business is a full time gig! How do you like to self-nourish? Do you have any daily rituals you love?
It certainly is! I always love it when I get up early and do yoga, looking out over our deck to all the beautiful native trees and ocean beyond. Andi loves getting up early for a run - it is so lovely and bushy, peaceful and quiet but there are some serious hills to contend with! We also love going to Onetangi beach for a swim, and long walks along the white sand… Onetangi is simply stunning. I go through phases of meditating (if I’m doing more Pilates and less yoga) which helps if I’m quite stressed. We both also really love cooking from fresh every day!
What is your guiding ethos when it comes to purchasing skincare and makeup? For instance organic / vegan etc.
We never buy skin care (for obvious reasons!) :) But with makeup, I tend to stick with 3 brands: Ilia, Inika and Kjaer Weis. I actually know the founder of Ilia and she is really lovely, plus she’s created such a great brand that looks great, has fantastic ingredients and her products perform better than conventional products. So we do product swaps - she receives our full collection and I receive a lovely selection from her collection which works out perfectly! I basically look for products that suit my skin tone, perform exceptionally well (long-lasting yet natural looking), aren’t tested on animals (an absolute must!), are made using the highest quality organic ingredients and that have luxurious-looking packaging… exactly what we try to create with everything we make.
Is there one natural beauty or skincare product that you cannot live without?
I absolutely cannot live without our Kukui Replenishing Oil Cleanser! I use it morning and night, it removes all of my makeup and balances my skin beautifully without stripping it. I even use it after my serum and moisturiser on my cheeks for a dewy glow. Plus when I’ve run out of body moisturiser, I use a few pumps over my body - it’s a multi-talker which is great! The other skin care item I would never want to be without is our Kakadu Plum Rejuvenating Serum - an absolute must-have for brightening skin, hydrating it and just giving it that extra vitamin boost unlike anything I’ve ever tried before. Lastly, I never go anywhere without my Ilia Crimson & Clover lipstick. It is the most perfect shade of red for my skin tone, it feels super light yet luxuriously soft and nourishing and can be layered to be richer at night, or subtle for during the day.
What does your own daily skincare routine look like?
When I wake up, I have a shower and use either our oil cleanser or cream cleanser, depending on what mood I’m in and what we have left in stock. I massage these in for a minute or two all over my face, neck and chest, inhaling the beautiful tropical aromas deeply, then leave them on while I shampoo and wash the rest of my body. I then gently steam them off with a warm, moist microfibre cloth. I place the cloth flat over my entire face for a few seconds, then repeat on the left side of my face, then the right, then my chin and jaw area until my skin feels cleansed but soft - not oily and not dry. When I’m out of the shower, I spritz our coconut water tonic four times in the shape of a cross over my face, I leave this to absorb a little, then with skin that is still moist, I pump two lots of moisturiser and one pump of serum into the palm of my hand, swirl it with my fingertips to blend a little, then massage over my face, neck and chest. Again, making sure to breathe deeply to soak in all of the exquisite aromas and calm myself. Finally, I dab a bit of sunscreen over my face, neck, chest and arms because the UV is so harsh here (especially compared to England), then I apply a drop of oil cleanser onto my cheeks to impart a dewy glow. I pretty much have the same routine at night (minus the sunscreen of course), but I always double cleanse at night because I’ve been wearing makeup during the day, plus I want to remove any environmental pollutants I’ve been exposed to.
My double cleanse practice involves using our oil cleanser pumped a few times onto a microfibre cloth, which I then sweep across my eyes to remove mascara, I repeat this all over my face using more oil cleanser, then I clean my microfiber cloth with a bar soap and water. Next, I massage our balancing cream cleanser all over my face, neck and chest, leave that on to absorb in and help draw more debris out while I shower the rest of my body, and then rinse off with a warm, moist microfibre cloth again… they’re an absolute must-have accessory!
What does 'living consciously' mean to you?
"Living Consciously” to us means respecting nature first and foremost. Being kind to animals and humans alike, never using weed sprays or similar, never buying items that contain palm oil or “vegetable oil” which is usually, mostly palm oil. Contributing as little to landfill as humanly possible - we put out 1 half-full biodegradable bag per month between 2-4 of us (my parents sometimes come to stay for 3-6 months, so it depends on the time of year as to how much we put out). Buying less and better quality items that last, especially when it comes to clothes, shoes, homewares and big ticket items. Buying from independent stores and mostly Australian and New Zealand companies. Recycling every single thing that we can. When we’re out in Auckland we bring items home to recycle that we may have purchased along the way - if only cities had more recycling bins readily available! Buying items with little or mostly no packaging - especially fresh produce. Never throwing veggie scraps into landfill. We have a bokashi system that works well for us which we then bury into our veggie garden, thus improving the soil quality. When we purchase ingredients to make into skin care, we make sure none of our suppliers ever have or ever will test on animals. Ever. As mentioned earlier too, we buy from independent growers, farms and companies that work with indigenous land owners so that they are getting all or the majority of their profits. Also because we purchase close to home (New Zealand, Australia and the islands of the South Pacific), we are supporting our “local” economies first before supporting either big multinational companies or smaller companies that are halfway across the world from us.
Andi makes most of our furniture now (he’s multi talented...and even made my wedding dress) plus we up-cycle second hand pieces we find along our travels. We were part of an organic co-op for quite some time but unfortunately it took up too much time to be able to continue with our work schedules. But we buy organic fresh produce whenever possible and organic milk all the time… though you could argue that’s not great environmentally - nobody’s perfect though. We grow some of our own veggies and herbs and would like to continue growing more and more as we establish ourselves more on Waiheke. We even have plans to grow an organic crop for use in our skin care in the near future… watch this space!