Passionate about protecting the environment and inspired by the most important person in her life, her son Case, Tania Houpapa set out to create a range of natural, organic skincare products. Having battled for 10 years with Case’s atopic eczema, they turned to nature and the medicinal power of native plants for relief and healing. Casez Creations – Tiakina Te Taiao is a small whānau business located in South Auckland. They source their ingredients from their native bush, lovingly handcrafting their products in small batches, and creating a skincare range that caters for the whole family. Tania and Case are inspired every day to protect the environment and encourage sustainable practices across all aspects of their business. Here, Tania talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about their business journey so far and their hopes and dreams for the future.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
My son Case-Mason is the absolute inspiration behind our business. For 10 years he battled with atopic eczema and we found relief and healing in our very own natural world by using the medicinal properties of certain native plants, which have worked wonders for him. As a mum, I wanted something natural for Case, as all the years of using cortisone and fatty creams prescribed by the doctors had thinned his skin out so much that his eczema quickly become infected with just one scratch. It was a vicious cycle.
Initially, our skincare range was based around what had worked for Case. It has now grown and includes a men’s grooming range, natural deodorant and lip balm – all made with natural ingredients and no nasties, so it is so much better for our environment.
Case and I have a huge passion and respect for our taiao (environment). Every day we’re inspired to help protect it and we encourage sustainable practices in all aspects of our growing business Casez Creations Tiakina Te Taiao (protecting our environment).
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
We started out purely by accident. I suppose you could say my hobby of making, creating and experimenting different products that worked for Case meant I had a whole lot of excess stock.
A lot was given away to family and friends and we also gifted a lot of our excess stock and seconds to our local community pataka for our local community to enjoy. After a while, I decided to sell some of that stock so I could experiment more with different ingredients. Soaping and making balm is a expensive hobby when you first start out.
As more and more of our family and friends became interested in what we were doing, they started buying more. Orders via messenger were a headache and a good friend of mine mentioned I should set up a Shopify shop. Not techno savvy at all, I spent about 6 weeks trying to set up our shop. There was a lot of ripping out of hair if it hadn’t turned grey already, a lot of “OMG, I can’t do this” moments and a lot of self-doubt. In the end, I got there and was so proud of myself to have set up 95% of our website by myself. I just had to get a professional in to do all the technical stuff. I guess this is where we started.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
My biggest breakthrough was believing in myself that I was more then capable of running a small business. As a person, I’m naturally shy and I’m the one you’ll find out the back of the marae doing all the work. So running a business wasn’t something on my radar. I used to struggle with technology most days, I had no idea what XERO was and funnily enough, I knew nothing about being in business. With the help of my amazing and supportive friends and whanau, I took a massive leap of faith into the unknown. All I had was the belief in myself, and drowning wasn’t an option.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
At the moment, being a single mum, working full time in a very challenging industry and keeping up with our small business is a massive challenge and balancing life is a daily juggle.
However, first and foremost, I’m a mother and Case is my number 1 priority. I’m very lucky that he loves helping out where he can. He comes along to the markets and sets up the tables and gazebo, and talks to the customers while taking their orders. He loves going out into the bush where we harvest, which is great because we get to spend quality time together, he gets to be out in the great outdoors, which he loves, and we are putting time into our business as well.
In saying that, we do have a lot of things on the go and I have a great mentor who has helped put things in place, ensuring we have a better work/life balance.