When you spend an hour with Caroline Martelli, it’s hard not to be tempted by her gorgeous natural skincare products and silky mineral makeup range. But regardless of whether you purchase anything, you will always come away with loads of useful skincare and makeup pointers as well as feeling totally inspired by her positive, can-do business attitude.
The Papamoa woman single-handedly built her MCollections MSkin – skincare and makeup – business from scratch and now sells throughout New Zealand and the world via mail order. Last year she opened premises in Papamoa, expanded her product range and employed more staff. Yes, she’s had her challenges, but she’s made it work and her clients tell her they’ll never buy anything else! What is her trick for business success?
“My belief is that you put your mind to something and you go and do it,” says Caroline. “You also need a real belief that what you are doing is making a difference. Be truthful and just honour what you do.”
Client feedback shows her work is making a difference to a lot of people, particularly women in the 35+ age group, who can sometimes struggle with maintaining that healthy, hydrated and radiant skin as they age. The MSkin anti-aging, natural skincare range is all New Zealand-made, using pure essential oils, healthy plant oils, vitamins and minerals.
Three other product lines make up the MCollections MSkin range: MCollections mineral makeup; MBody body butters (made locally); and, more recently, the MMen skincare range. Her muslin face cloths are made at the Avalon campus in Te Puna.
Building confidence in others
Her nourishing skincare range has helped women all over the world, but Caroline says what she is really providing is a service. She works with each client to find out what their skin needs and then teaches them how to use the products. Maintaining that client connection is the main reason her range is not available in retail stores.
“It’s not about the product; I want to find out what the client needs, because everyone’s skin is different,” says Caroline. “I also like to be able to teach clients how to use and apply the products, so if someone orders makeup online and I know it’s too dark for them I’ll email them to suggest a slightly different colour. I want women to feel confident in themselves and be in love with the product.”
As well as offering personal consultations and skype/email follow-ups, Caroline runs makeup and skincare workshops at her Papamoa studio. Groups can book a night out with friends, rock up with bubbles and nibbles, and enjoy a personalised makeover with Caroline, while learning about the MCollections and MSkin range.
“When a client leaves and feels amazing, that’s what does it for me. That’s my purpose and I’m always going to keep to that. It keeps me energised. It’s about building confidence in others and that’s what my brand is all about.”
Sink or Swim
Business is running smoothly now, but Caroline faced tough times early on. She trained as a makeup artist and hair stylist, and later became an aromatherapist, before moving to Tauranga in 2003 to open her own salon. When her marriage ended, she lost everything except her baby daughter in one arm and her makeup kit in the other.
“I realised I was either going to sink or swim. I have the most amazing mother and beautiful girlfriends who gathered around and said ‘we’re going to get you through this’.
She worked with L’Oréal for four years as a travelling consultant, ran makeup workshops at nights as well as wedding stylist work at weekends, and made a pact with herself that when her daughter turned five she would start up a business. In 2009 with the deadline approaching, she took the plunge.
“Initially I continued doing the makeup workshops at client’s homes and then realised women wanted a natural skincare range to nourish their skin. So many of us feel we need to wear more makeup to cover bad skin and I wanted to help them get rid of the mask and get their confidence back. I wanted to develop a rich cream that would hydrate the skin, not just sit on top.”
That’s how the MSkin range started and since then business has flourished, all thanks to client referrals. Now Caroline focuses on marketing and client consultations and employs an assistant to manage the day-to-day administrative tasks and two despatches to pack the online mail orders going out daily around the world.
“I’ve been through the ups and downs of finances and it has been taxing at times, but I’ve found that having really good support and taking little steps are really important. For me it’s about collaboration rather than competition and about supporting each other in business. I joined networking groups and wasn’t shy to talk to others and ask questions when things were tough. Now I’ve built good support around me with a business coach and a personal coach, and a crew of healers that keep me going. It’s important to look after yourself.”
Want to look better in photos? See Caroline Martelli showing you the best poses.
Photos of Caroline: Charmaine Marinkovich photography
Product photos: Logan Davy