Pic: “Made by a Samoan” products naturally & organically made by SUGA entrepreneur Nina Potoi of Wellington.

We are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing the best skincare products for our skin. When it comes to Polynesian skin and good health, it makes sense to look into how our great grandparents or how our ancestors may have done things.  The term ‘You are what you eat’ takes on a whole new meaning for SUGA Nina Potoi of Mirimar,Wellington. Nina is the founder of the ‘Made by a Samoan’ skincare range.  

She says in traditional Pacific culture, food is used as a health remedy and is especially good for your skin. The new business owner from the villages of Asau & Sapapaali’i says she uses special ingredients like coconut oils, coconut and lemongrass in her organic products – making it a luxurious and natural treat for your skin. She chats to SUGA Magazine about her start-up business; mixing skincare for Hollywood actress Scarlet Johanssen and her upcoming showcase ‘Wellington on a plate’ on the 25th of August.

Congratulations and what a great product! What motivated you to come up with an organic skincare range?

My motivation has always been inspiring my kids by becoming the best me. I’ve always been passionate about health. Once we had kids I started to worry about what I was putting on their skin. The only way to be sure was to make my own oils. That idea naturally developed into a stronger interest and then a passion for developing skincare.

What kind of research did you carry out?

I’ve lived in Samoa so I had a knowledge of local remedies. A friend had been developing a business around coconut oil. That really ignited my idea for using traditional Pacific remedies with aromoscience to create new products. The rest is trial and error and others sharing their knowledge.
One challenge is obviously sourcing ingredients. We try to work with trusted local suppliers at every level. That comes down to the strength of our relationships.

Packaging has actually been the biggest challenge. Getting the right bottles that function properly. As a small operator we’re limited in what we can access in New Zealand.

Made by A Samoan Skincare Range by Nina Potoi

You have an event coming up this week called ‘Wellington on a plate’ which is like a food festival?

There is little or no real Pacific/Maori involvement in ‘Wellington on A Plate’ so we thought let’s gate crash it and show people what we can do.

We want to push the boundaries about how an event like this views food. In a traditional context, we also use food as a health remedy. With the support of our friends at L’affare we’ve put together a group of modern Pacific navigators: Andrew Matautia – Photography, Monique Fiso – Food, Ray Letoa – Drink and Ian Seumanu (DJ Raw) who will be in charge of music .We all reinterpret what it is to be Samoan through our passion for food, drink, art and music.

We’re definitely the black sheep of this event and that’s the way we like it.

So how did Scarlet Johansson come about in all this? We understand she was filming ‘Ghost in the Shell’ in Wellington earlier this year? 

That was my husband Hemi hustling like he does. He met a lady who happened work on Ghost in the Shell. He started talking up my products and she asked if we could make skincare for Scarlett Johansson.

The next two weeks were the worst of my life developing products we didn’t actually make yet! We made the deadline with minutes to spare and now the Coconut & Lemongrass Moisturising Oil is our best seller.

We weren’t allowed to tell people at the time and never got to meet her (she lived 2 minutes from our house). But they said she loved it.

Made By A Samoan Coconut and Lemongrass Scrub

As a SUGA what are your thoughts on Health and Beauty in general?

Our health is so important. For me, that comes down to quality of life. I cherish every moment with the people I love. As a parent that hits home when you think one day we’ll leave our babies. The healthier we are, the better our quality of life, the longer we livee and the more moments we share together.

I’ve suffered from low self esteem around the way I look and feel. As parents we’re conscious about our kids not carrying those same burdens. We support them to find their own place and celebrate their uniqueness.

Where can people buy your products?

We sell through our website  MadeByASamoan.com (where you can also purchase ‘Wellington on a Plate’ tickets) and another online store  Oh Natural.

We are always looking to build relationships with key partners so please get in touch with us if you feel we an align with your business!

Want to try Made By a Samoan skincare products? Nina has kindly gifted SUGA Magazine 3 skincare packs to give away! Valued at 70.00 NZD.

They include:
1 x Coconut & Lemongrass Moisturising Oil
1 x Coconut & Coffee Body Scrub

Simply comment on our SUGA Magazine Facebook post where this story is posted and tell us why you would like to try it. 




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