Founded in 1986 by brother and sister team Paul and Marianna Glucina, About Face has since established itself as among the most trusted collection of beauty clinics in New Zealand and now from their shelves shines Pure Fiji, a range fair trade health and beauty products sourced from its eponymous Pacific island. “I’ve always had a love affair with Fiji having spent many a holiday there as well as my honeymoon,” says Marianna. “I was looking for a brand to compliment our existing ones and after Paul and I met met with the founders of Pure Fiji we knew that not only was it a beautiful brand, but that New Zealanders would love their ethos and passion. We wanted to share that story with the country.”


I ask what is so special about the region and what can be learnt from their ancient ways.


“The people are incredible. Fiji is known as the ‘Isle of Smiles’ and you soon discover why. The secret behind pure Fiji is that they combine traditional, centuries-old remedies with modern-day science for products that not only smell beautiful, but work. We know that the benefits of such things as daily hydrating the skin with coconut oil or the use of dilo oil for acne or eczema are far and wide. It’s key to not overcomplicate things, keep it simple, and look to nature for the solution.”


The communities employed by Pure Fiji practise sustainable farming and manufacturing techniques in the production and processing of the raw materials and the company also supports local schools. “Pure Fiji help support seven villages as well as numerous ventures to ensure the company’s carbon footprint is small,” says Marianna. “They don’t do this in the hope that people will think the products are cool and become more marketable. It’s a way of life over there. It’s about empowering through employment and education.”


Marianna has noticed a shift in the public’s attitude to buying ethical goods. “Consumers are a lot savvier,” she says. “It’s not just animal testing people are wary of nowadays, they want to know products are safe, environmentally-friendly and sustainable. People now make more conscious decisions when purchasing all skincare and cosmetic brands.”


Though, Marianna does warn that there are many brands jumping on the fair trade bandwagon as it’s seen as the fashionable thing to do meaning that “marketing can sometimes get in the way of the truth”. It’s vital, therefore, that consumers dig a little deeper: “I believe you need to educate the consumer more as to why the products are great. People enjoy making a conscious decision about what they are buying. If we can educate them about a brand’s history and ethics, the purchase becomes a more enlightened, better informed experience.”


Tragically, the ‘Isle of Smiles’ has suffered greatly in recent weeks due to Cyclone Winston, the strongest tropical cyclone to ever hit the landmass. I finish by asking Marianna what has, and can, be done to help. “Everyone was affected in some way or another, unfortunately some more than others,” she says. “A lot have been left with nothing. ” In conjunction with Pure Fiji, About Face has set up a Givealittle page to raise funds for the nation to buy food parcels which are delivered weekly by the firm’s local team. “We will also look to take some school supplies to the villages when we hold our conference there later in the year,” adds Marianna. “Part of Fiji’s beauty is its strength, they will rebuild quickly.”


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Words: Jamie Christian Desplaces