Hayley West would love to see a return to more traditional skincare products, without the long list of harsh chemical ingredients. Using tallow, the gently rendered down fat of cattle raised on their farm in The Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand, Queen of the Hill produces beautiful, pure and natural balms to keep your skin moisturised, supple, nourished and glowing.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
I’ve always been interested in natural health and nutrition. I studied Naturopathy in my youth and have vivid memories of brewing kombucha in my mums kitchen in 1995 before anyone even knew what those weird alien globs were!
We live on a small lifestyle block at the bottom of the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula and raise our own beloved happy cows, free range grazing the luscious green pastures overlooking the sparkling Pacific ocean. We had just had one processed for beef the day before and I had asked the butcher to save the suet fat for me.
I closely follow the principles of the Western Price Foundation and had been researching nose to tail existence, that is, using the whole of the beast to minimise any wastage and to honour the life that has been sacrificed to nourish your own.
As I refuse to use vegetable oils to cook our food in, I was wanting to make my own tallow, rendered down fat of the cow. The optimal fat to use is suet, or leaf fat, the nutrient dense fat from around the kidneys of grass fed beef.
My husband, who has some butchery training, and I spent a long afternoon and night breaking apart the large mass of yellow fat and then rendering it at low temperatures to create a pure, luxurious, golden liquid we thought we would use just for high temperature cooking.
However, we both couldn’t believe how soft our hands were. Even my tradesman husbands hands were smooth and soft and remained that way the next day even after being washed numerous times. I was intrigued. I rubbed some on my face that night and couldn’t believe how moisturised and nourished my skin felt. It had completely absorbed and left my skin glowing with an even texture and tone. It wasn’t greasy, like it is with coconut oil and other “natural products” I have tried, which seemed to glide over the surface of the skin, not sinking in at all and just leaving me looking shiny and oily! After a bit of research and experimenting, I feel like we’ve come up with the perfect recipe! Who would have thought just how valuable this usual waste product of animal agriculture really is!!
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
I gave a few sample pots to friends and family to get their feedback on the product and any benefits they had noticed, or if they had any other constructive input into how I could improve the balm, if any. The feedback was overwhelming positive and I thought let’s give it a go as I didn’t want to keep this amazing product to myself.
I started out advertising on Instagram and through some Facebook groups I was on just to try and gauge if there was any interest. I also spread the word around our local town and through word of mouth and just a general interest in what the heck it actually was I started making sales.
I bribed my son to build me a website when he was home from uni during his winter break and now sell exclusively through there.