Founded in 2017, Tama Toki founded his therapeutic skincare line with a desire to express māoritanga and to create opportunity on Aotea (Great Barrier Island). Tama shared the Aotea story, what inspires him when creating new products and what’s next for Aotea with the Superette team.
When and how did Aotea come about?
Aotea was founded in 2016. It came about from a desire to express māoritanga and to create opportunity on Aotea.
What gave you the confidence to start Aotea?
As cliché as this may sound having confidence wasn’t really part of the thinking. We were fortunate enough to be young. So other than being motivated by the core mandate of this business, I suppose it was more a case of being reckless and brash. You kind of don’t think about whether it could fail when you’re young.
Any advice you would give to someone thinking of starting a brand?
For business, may sound really cliché but love what you do and having a purpose helps. The hard times won’t be as hard if you have those things.
What inspires you when creating new products for Aotea?
The inspiration is around mātauranga māori but also how we can expand on that knowledge. So for us the next phase of this business is important and lies in the science and plant chemicals of the native flora. The new products will be involved in clinical trials which we are looking forward to getting underway.
What’s your product development process?
Trial and error until it’s perfect.
Do you have a favourite product that you’ve created over the years?
I like the Harakeke seed oil products.
What is your workspace style and what essentials would we find on your desk at the moment?
We’re hardly in front of a desk these days, as we make all of our products, it involves extracting, processing and growing the flora so most of the work is hands on. But when we are in front of a desk, hate to square; a notepad, laptop and coffee.
What are you listening to right now?
Music! Youtube and Spotify recommend lists are awesome but I don’t really know who I’m listening to these days ha. Although it’s not music, I’m currently listening to Carl Jung’s Audiobook: Man and his Symbols.
What are you watching right now?
We started the first episode of the crown last night haha.
How would you describe your personal style?
‘Boxy’ clothing maybe? Have no idea what kind of style that is!
Where is your favourite destination of all time and why?
Shanghai or Tokyo because of how the city, the culture and the energy can dwarf you. You’re anonymous there. It’s a different world in most parts of the world.
Where to from here, what’s next for Aotea?
The next for us to get more into the R&D and scientific aspects of the native flora. After this we want to start building a micro-grid for our little factory. We are largely solar at the moment but we want to employ wind as well as hydrogen fuel cell technology.