[ Interview by Shawn Gough ]
[ Photographs by Sheryl Watson ]

For the past six months, a 17-year-old high school student has been involved in research and development. He has been researching something that piqued his interest when he was twelve, and would become prevalent and motivating for the young man as he entered the world of Natural Living Health Market.

Kieran’s interest was kindled when his mother went to see Deidre, a naturopath, and while she was having her bloods read, he studied the bottles and saw the names that didn’t make any sense. He wanted to know from that moment about these names and their meanings. It is this desire that has provided the motivation for the past six months of the research and development period of Nutritiv Oils products. During this period of investigation and experimentation, he wanted to know what a nutrient does, how it works, and how it impacts on the skin.

It is after school on a Wednesday and I am now following Kieran Heath, the CEO of Nutritiv Oils, to his home out the back of West Melton. After heading up a long drive we arrive at his workshop aka home – he is a young entrepreneur keeping his overheads low, so I expect nothing more.

Waiting expectantly on the porch is his financial backer, Kathy (Kieran’s mum). She leads us both in and offers me a hot drink. The house faces the east; I have to imagine how enriching it must be to watch the sun creep across the paddocks that sit beyond the view from the living area.

After he changes, Kieran heads to ‘the lab’ – their kitchen. Here the materials needed for the creation of his range of natural facial oils and skin care products are revealed. “This is the biggest cost. The start-up materials needed for the mixing process are the biggest outlay financially.” He has borrowed from his mother and has arranged a payment plan to get that original investment back to her. The bench is covered with product and equipment. There is a plastic container that he lifts onto the bench; in it are a number of oils and essences in brown medicine bottles in a range of sizes. Next to this, there is a black toolbox containing his mixing implements: funnels, measuring cups and medicine droppers.

Kieran HeathKieran is creating some facial oils today and he instantly grabs one fat-looking brown bottle, inserts the medicine dropper, removes a smidgeon of soft-yellow liquid and places it in another miniature brown bottle. He scans the plastic container for the next ingredient. The process is repeated while he explains why he wants to enter the Natural Living Health Market. “I want to be a Naturopath, be a Doctor of Naturopathy. But it is also about what people put on their face. Sixty percent of what people apply to their face is absorbed into the bloodstream. I have read articles on line about how it can damage your skin due to what is contained in the products. I wanted to see how I can eliminate this from the products and people’s daily routines; to see if it could be done naturally.”

“I wanted to see how I can eliminate this from the products and people’s daily routines; to see if it could be done naturally.”

Kieran continues to pour the mixture, then shakes the elements together. It is at this point that Kathy chimes in. “He loves pills. He loves supplements. It’s cost me a fortune.” Kieran laughs at his mother’s insinuation and they both stop for a chuckle. There is obviously a close relationship between the two and Kathy is certainly proud of her son’s ability to learn, understand and create his product range. “He is fascinated by it,” Kathy proudly announces.

It took six months to create his range of facial oils and skin care products. The reason he chose oils is because, as he found out through his research, moisturisers and crèmes don’t really work – it’s a myth.

The name Nutriv Oils comes from further research. Essentially, he wanted it to say nutrient or natural. He looked at a few languages but used the French word for nutrient which is nutritif. To make this name his own, he changed the f to a v and Nutritiv Oils was born.

Kieran knows his stuff. He spent hours a day finding out about DIY methods and recipes, what other brands use, and what works well for the skin. For example he knows that “avocado oil is a heavy oil so best used for dry skin. My suppliers have some guidelines for usage. You have to look at the composition of the oils because it can affect skin.”

So far, the response from the public has been very positive. While he is targeting women, the main consumers of cosmetics, he realises that society has changed a lot and men are becoming more concerned about and aware of skin care and grooming, so Kieran hopes he can broaden his market share. However, the females grill him; they test his knowledge of the products and their benefits and, when he answers them with his intimate knowledge of the composition, they are surprised and trust him as an authority.

Both Kathy and Kieran use Nutritiv and he informs me of his favourite product. “It is an Acid Peel.” He holds it up as he begins to explain why this is his favourite. He looks admiringly at it as tells me about it. “Paste abrasives, like scrubs and exfoliators, actually cut your skin and cause micro-lacerations which age your skin and hurt your skin, so your skin is trying to heal itself; with repeated use, you are further cutting the skin. My product goes deeper and more effectively aids the skin-shedding process. I also aim to make the ingredients in my product actually be there.” What he means is that some products say they have a certain percentage of an extract but, when you break it down, it doesn’t contain that amount. He wants his product to be honest – to do what it says.

Kieran’s marketing strategy thus far has been using Facebook and some markets – such as the Selwyn Youth Market – to get his brand name out and about. He has also had interest from a health shop in Hornby and a beautician who wants to trial his product. He is working with another student George Watson to develop a website for on-line transactions, and this will allow him to keep his overheads low. He has enlisted the help of another to design a new logo for his brand. He has had to learn a lot, and quickly, about the world of business.

Cost-wise, he has assessed the prices of similar products and calculated labour, material costs, and a reasonable market entry price. “His are cheaper and clearly natural.”

Kieran is a young entrepreneur with a mission. The proof is in the pudding because if you look at Kieran’s complexion, you can see how fabulous his skin looks. His mission is to make products that are natural and give customers an honest and clean product. In order for this to occur, he will continue to learn about oils, recipes, and combinations, as well as the marketing and business acumen needed for a company to succeed.

It is stereotypical to think that cleansing and moisturising products are the domain of females but, in this ever-changing world in which we live, one young man is aiming to enter the market with products that actually have natural ingredients and a positive effect on the skin.