Samoa-based businesswoman Lufilufi Rasmussen 44, has created an exciting new luxury skincare range. ‘Misiluki’, made from pure, natural Samoa ingredients, is designed to keep your skin looking island-radiant and refreshed.
The busy mother-of-three already owns the popular Misiluki Day Spa in Samoa but saw a need to branch out into the world of skincare after noticing very little skincare products on the market that contain coconut oil as a main ingredient – an ingredient she says is largely underestimated for it’s skincare benefits.
The former Kelston Girls High School and Auckland University student from Vaisala, Fa’atoia & Leulumoega launched her skincare range in August last year. She talks to SUGA about the joys and challenges of the Misiluki journey, which was seven years in the making, and why she believes the natural skincare products will benefit your skin in comparison to other products on the market.
Congratulations on the launch of your new skincare range! It really is exciting. Tell us, how this all came about and what inspired the idea?
Thank you SUGA! Misiluki’s seven-year journey started back in 2008 when I opened Misiluki Day Spa. In 2009, I could see a clear path for creating a high quality skincare range that could be marketed and sold globally based on “indigenous innovation.”
As a SUGA it was simply, one: using a resource such as coconut oil – we use this everyday because as Samoans we know it works. Two: sharing my story as a Samoan woman and our culture. Three: making it internationally certified natural and four: to have it scientifically proven that it works.
Over the years, I consistently worked on the “Misiluki Project” around midnight for hours on end. Eventually, all the different components of the project, all the people I had connected with, the financial limitations and challenges had come together and I was finally satisfied with the Misiluki product range to share with the world.
The biggest lesson for me was to “always listen to your gut instinct.” This made me stay true to Misiluki’s core value of “Loto Alofa” because you can easily stray off the path especially if you work with a lot of different experts in their fields who try and push their ideas even though their ideas may not fit with yours.
Tell us about the actual launch. When and how did you launch?
Misiluki launched for the first time at the Sydney Beauty Exhibition in August last year. I was very emotional the morning of the expo – all the sacrifices from my family, friends and myself just hit me. This exhibition was a goal to accelerate the project and so the lead-up to this event was intense!
What I love about Misiluki is that it has developed organically. And because of this, everyone from the suppliers, manufacturers, perfumerist and others have come on board because they believe in it and have come to love Misiluki.
Our manufacture for example; when we finally picked up our product he gave me a big hug and said, “Well done. Not a lot of people make it to this point, you are onto a good thing here.” When people in the industry validate your work, it’s very encouraging because you know you are on the right track!
With this support behind me, this drives me even more to ensuring Misiluki is a successful brand internationally. There is definitely still a lot of work ahead but I’ve been very methodical and pedantic in my approach and spent the majority of my time in isolation working on this hence the reason why its taken seven years to get this project off the ground! I had to make sure I was market ready.
How important was it for you to use Samoa natural products in your skincare range?
When we first opened the spa we needed products for our facials and I knew that I wanted a high quality coconut oil based skincare range. The closest I found to it was a brand from Fiji. After a year of using this brand, I felt that something didn’t sit well with me – that here we are, a “Samoan” spa using a Fijian product. My only option really was to create my own signature highly effective coconut oil based skincare range that would cater towards improving different skin conditions of our clients, which I have achieved.
So using Samoan natural ingredients was always a given and imperative to the brand. Coconut oil, as we Samoans know, has the moisturising and healing benefits and is a great makeup remover. I wanted to take these natural aspects and marry them with other natural active ingredients that would appeal to the wider market. Naturally this leads to supporting our local village farmers which is an important factor to Misiluki.
Your research in developing Misiluki has taken you all over the world. You have definitely done your homework and travelled widely so that you can create an authentic and marketable product.
Yes, I have travelled a bit because of Misiluki. I’ve been to Hong Kong & South Korea to look for packaging and to see ask ‘who’ and ‘what’ is out there that could help me because I had a lot of unanswered questions in my head.
We have done market validation in New York and Australia and are currently in Japan for a tradeshow because its important to understand how each market operates especially in non-english speaking countries – you can only do so much through google!
We will be in Las Vegas and New York in June for the first part of our launch into the US Market which we have been strategically been working on for the past five years. It certainly has been fun and the experience has broadened my lateral thinking.
What are your thoughts on popular global skincare brands?
When it comes to skincare it is a personal choice. There are many great skincare ranges and not so good ones out in the market. I feel that natural is the way to go because it doesn’t have any negative effects on your skin or your inner being.
I found that there was no serious luxury skincare range you could use on the face in the natural section of a department store – a range that uses organic virgin coconut oil as the hero ingredient. I always found there were only products using olive oil, argan oil, rose hip oil, macadamia nut oil and almond oil as hero ingredients.
People overlook the humble coconut yet the benefits are the same as these other oils. You always tend to find coconut oil based products in the budget section. Why? I feel people are too familiar with coconut oil and therefore undervalue coconut oil from the Pacific but there is a huge a difference in quality of the coconut oil and how it is made in Samoa as opposed to coconut oil from South East Asia for example.
Samoans encourage the idea of ageing gracefully and in a sense, we are people who are not too fussed about looking ‘younger.’ Plastic surgeries are usually seen as somewhat silly and also seen as a ‘palagi thing.’ What are your thoughts on Samoan women and skincare routines?
(Laughs) No, we don’t like plastic surgery BUT Pacific women always want to look good and we love our lotions! Yes, Pacific women age gracefully but we are still exposed to the harsh sun and environmental elements (in the skincare world they refer to this as ‘free radicals’).
Your lifestyle also plays a huge part in looking younger or older. As a teenager I have always had a skincare routine using supermarket brands. Through the years, as the budget got better and I learnt more about the good and bad ingredients and my ever-changing skin, I would change my skincare products to suit. Again it comes down to personal choice. Misiluki Skincare is simply another option for women to try and see if it is a product that they would want to incorporate or start their skincare routine with. Good skincare enhances the genetic foundation we are blessed with.
How has your family helped you on your journey?
My family and friends have been supportive all the way. They may not understand fully the work I am doing for Misiluki Skincare but they understand that it is work. So with the amount of travel I have to do, they come to together to help out in anyway they can, from listening and babysitting my children to picking me up at 2am from the airport. Honestly, to do this sort of project, it would’ve been impossible without my family and friends support.
What have been the main challenges in this process?
Financing all the different components – convincing people to give you money to fund your idea especially when your product that is still in the start-up phase. Connecting with the RIGHT people is so important. It took me six years before I found people like suppliers and contractors who believe in Misiluki.
When a trusting relationship is formed, they stay loyal and go beyond the scope of works on a very limited budget. They do things because they want to see you successful. My packaging supplier for example – I had issues with packaging for many years until I sat beside a lovely man on the plane to Samoa where he was going for a cycling trip. We ended up conversing the whole way. He ended up being the largest supplier of packaging in New Zealand!
I spoke to him about my challenges with the high Minimum of Quantities (MOQ’s) other suppliers were asking for that I couldn’t afford. He helped me out and he now supplies me. I tell you, you never know who and where you meet people who will contribute positively to your business.
Your advice to other entrepreneurs wanting to start up business in any field?
I have much advice! 1) People say entrepreneurs are dreamers, especially in the islands, and yes we are. We come up with big ideas but what separates us from dreamers is that entrepreneurs put their dreams into action – passion drives this and it’s supported by hard work and fearlessness.
2) The reality is, the challenges will be never ending. This is when you take a hard look at yourself in the mirror and you ask yourself are you up for the challenges? It’s all about self development.
3) Don’t focus on money – it will only be short-lived and no one benefits.
4) Success is not overnight – you need to do your homework, research, test, adjust if needed. You will never fail. You’ll learn if something doesn’t work out, it just means you have to come up with another solution to the problem.
5) “Indigenous Innovation.” You are intelligent, you are culturally grounded, loved and grounded by your families, friends and community. For me as a Samoan Female, A SUGA – we are blessed with a strong foundation and a great head start.
To all Misiluki fans and to all those who will naturally come to love Misiluki, thank you for all your support through the years. Team Misiluki is extremely pleased to develop a brand that represents Samoa and our Samoan and Pacific people proudly!
You can purchase Misiluki Skincare products online www.misiluki.com
NZ: Sei Oriana Gift Shop, Mangere, Auckland, NZ
Samoa: Maria’s Pharmacy, Janets Gift Shop, Misiluki Day Spa
Photos by Rae Photography and supplied.