Nelson born and raised, sustainable beauty star Emma Lewisham shares how a childhood in Aotearoa’s sunshine capital has influenced both her lifestyle and her booming global business. Words Hannah Brown
Emma Lewisham’s grounded South Island roots shine through in her success founding and building a beauty brand that both reflects her values and lifts beauty industry standards.
Her balanced approach to life incorporates a refreshing way of looking at entrepreneurship, motherhood and striving to build a better planet.
From a young age, Emma was always someone who refused to stand aside when she saw something that wasn’t right, standing firm by the statement, “If there’s a will there’s a way,” she says.
The beauty behind the brand says the South Island was a grounding place to spend her childhood, where she felt in tune with nature. She drew inspiration from the Kiwi spirit of resilience and “giving things a go” and has fond memories of growing up on a farm in Nelson, often spending her weekends feeding livestock, milking cows or collecting fresh eggs from the chickens.
“I’ve been surrounded by nature for as long as I can remember; it’s been integral to my upbringing, so caring for it has been instinctual for me,” she says.
Her father taught her how to take care of animals and respect the land. He also modelled the spirit of hard work, which she continues to apply to her life.
These days, Emma still loves getting a chance to go back to Nelson region, and particularly the Abel Tasman, which she describes as “truly one of the most magical places in Aotearoa”.
When Emma took the step to establish her eponymous brand in 2019, her lessons from younger years and understanding of the world of sustainability inspired her.
A close examination of the beauty industry highlighted how much of a waste problem there was, and she was shocked to find out 120 billion packaging units were being produced every year in beauty, and the majority – more than 100 billion – was ending up in landfills.
Her brand flipped the model on its head, taking ownership of what they brought into the world, moving to a refill and reuse approach.
She believes sustainability is a journey made up of little changes. In her everyday life, she believes in mindful consumerism.
“I always question where the items I purchase come from, who made them, and what happens to them at the end of life, this is especially prevalent in the choices I make around the clothes I buy and wear,” says Emma. She also drives an electric car and uses her KeepCup when she’s out and about.
Over the next 24 months, Emma has set the brand “ambitious carbon reduction goals that we’re working towards,” and lets slip they have another innovative product launch later in the year, “to bring to market something we’ve been working on for three years”.
While she’s busy setting a benchmark in sustainable practice and launching her products to retailers overseas, she is also investing time in other areas of her life, including her family.
“You are more creative and effective if you have balance in your life, spending time doing the things that make you happy and well rounded.”
She says that her three-year-old daughter inspires her to not only be an excellent businessperson, but also an excellent mother.
When she’s not building a global beauty empire, Emma loves to spend weekends with family and friends going to playgrounds, beaches, and for walks.
“It’s a pretty simple life,” she says.