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Viola Organics has been Organic
Certified with BioGro NZ Ltd since 2003. We are very proud of this
achievement and will continue to be organic certified in the future.
What you may not know is that to be Certified Organic requires more than
just ticking some boxes and buying Organic Certified ingredients. It
also requires our suppliers to provide Non-GMO statements for all
ingredients and additives.
In our view this requirement is a ‘no brainer’, it can be a challenge
to find non GMO ingredients but not impossible. Research surrounding
the long-term effects of GMO both in our food chain and body care are not
conclusively reporting that these are safe, therefore we are not
interested in being part of any ‘experiment’ that big corporations rule
over. It simply is a matter of avoiding GMO at all costs and limit the
risks to our health, that of our families and the environmental impact.
Viola Organics has been around since 1986, slightly before Living
Nature. Why has this way of doing business proven so successful and a
constant source of pride and joy for the owner Attitudes toward natural and organic products have changed
dramatically, says the owner of a skin care company celebrating 30 years
in business this year.
Viola Organics managing director Janine Matchitt says it is both
encouraging and refreshing to be able to talk about organic and natural
products without being on the receiving end of “odd” glances.
This has not always been the case, she says. When the business first
launched in 1986, as Pam’s Herbs by Janine’s mother Pamela, “it was
perceived as even more odd, falling into the ‘cardigan wearing, garlic
munching’ category of strange people just for trying to educate people
about the dangers of conventional chemical laden products”.
Since when did organic and natural become “alternative”, Janine asks.
“Chemicals, medicines and additives should be viewed as
‘alternative’, after all we lived naturally and organically for hundreds
of years at a time when medicine was viewed as ‘quackery’,” Janine
“How on earth did the tables turn so convincingly?”
Viola Organics is a home-based business with two staff producing
certified organic skin care products to a mainly New Zealand market with
a small percentage of international shoppers, many of them ex-pats.
Janine says customers have adapted well over the years and online shopping is where the majority of sales come from now.
There was a brief 4 ½ year “experiment” with expansion in 2008 but
apart from that home is where the heart is for this business savvy woman
who was looking for a new challenge in 2003 after selling another
small, successful business.
“Mum was looking to retire, so it became a natural step that I would
take over Viola. There were many, many hours of training from mum. I had
to make sure I could perfect the proven formulations of our products,
and had to learn every step for every formulation before I was allowed
“Even now, 30 years later, most of the original range is made to the exact same formulation.”
Janine says the expansion “experiment” was a success but it also made
it perfectly clear which way she did not want the company to go – “it
was not expansion to the detriment of quality”.
In 2012 the business downsized and moved back to Janine’s purpose built workshop and office in Parahaki.
This has not resulted in the company’s products remaining for NZ
consumption only. Janine found someone in Canada who is equally as
passionate about the products and so a “franchise” with a difference was
“The operator (Teri) is completely free to operate how she sees fit. I
simply passed on the formulations, trained her via Skype and granted a
License to Manufacture. This way others around the world can benefit
from these wonderful products. The only rule was that she could not sell
them [the formulations] to anyone else,” she said.
“I am very careful to ensure that expansion does not water down the work that we are doing here.”
Janine is not ruling out any more “franchise” arrangements.
“It would have to be with the right person, in the right country. We
are proud to get the Viola name and products out there, but it has to be
done right, or not at all.”
Janine says the biggest challenge they face as a SME (small, medium-sized enterprise) is consistency of supplies.
“As natural and organic ingredients become more mainstream we often
face world-wide shortages or we get locked out of the market due to bulk
buying by larger manufacturers. Volatile prices and access to packaging
is also challenging.”
Janine says she plans to celebrate Viola Organics’ 30th anniversary
in October with its loyal customers in mind, planning a variety of ways
to say “thanks for your support”. There will also be a factory shop
sale, online specials, a surprise gift for orders through-out the month
and perhaps even a wine and cheese evening at the factory shop.
Written by Nick Unkovich Photo/Michael Cunningham
Published The Northern Advocate 31/8/2016
Plants and animals need calcium carbonate to form their skeletons and
shells, and even modern mankind could hardly imagine life without
calcium carbonate. Almost every product of our day-to-day life contains
calcium carbonate or comes into contact with it while being produced.
Calcium carbonate is an exceptional compound. The chemical formula CaCO3 stands
for a raw material that exists everywhere in nature, dissolved in
rivers and oceans, melted as “cold” carbonatite-lava and solidified as a
mineral, dripstone or as parent material for whole mountain ranges.
Most of all, it is so rewarding that Rich Mineral Paper does not
require the harvesting of trees to produce the many varied products!
As a result the mills have been able to achieve something that no
pulp based paper mills have been able to achieve. Rich Mineral Stone
Paper mills create no air pollution, no toxic run off and no water
pollution. No acid, base or bleach. No Halogens or phalates.
Due to this unique make up, Rich Mineral Paper (Rockstock) is made
with minimal consequences to the environment. Not only is Rich Mineral
Paper (Rockstock) a “Tree-Free” product, but also does not require water
or use of fossil fuel as part of production. This break through product
does not require bleach, or use strong acid to lighten or break down
the components used to produce the Paper.
Rich Mineral Paper (Rockstock) is neither pulp nor synthetic made
paper. Rich Mineral Paper is a combination largely (80.9%) of mineral
powder (Calcium Carbonate) with a small amount (18%approx) of a
non-toxic, recyclable, compostable, photodegradable resin (PE) to create
an extremely environmentally friendly paper. Boards and other rockstock
Products may have different proportions of Stone powder and resin to
achieve different performance.
It is also water, mist, grease, anti-moth and insect proof*, freezer
grade, and can be heat sealed(certain products apply). Proving to be the
perfect material for Viola Organics Ltd new range of labels.
Due to its absorbency attributes, it has superior handling and printing qualities.
Sometimes confused with synthetic paper, Rockstock is neither
synthetic nor pulp or fibre based and is termed “Rich Mineral Paper”. Rockstock has qualities of both pulp and synthetic
papers, but more importantly it is much more environmentaly friendly
than either of the two. The printing qualities and exclusive feel make Rockstock a paper product not seen the likes of previously.
It is manufactured from ground down waste stone and offcuts used in the building industry. It contains no wood fibre.
Rockstock has a low carbon emission
It uses significantly less energy to produce than wood fibre paper.
It generates no effluent in its manufacture.(airborne or solid)
It requires no water,acid, base or bleach during production.
Any trimmings or waste paper from production is recycled to make new paper.
It can be used in most situations where conventional and synthetic
paper is used and offers exceptional printing, water proofing and tear
resistant qualities. Rockstock claims to be the world’s most
environmentally friendly paper.
Rockstock is the registered trade-name of a
ground-breaking high quality, coated paper with outstanding
environmental values that prints extremely well using standard inks.(No
special inks are required.)
HERE’S WHY WE ARE EXCITED ABOUT ROCKSTOCK
A tree free mineral paper manufactured from milled quarry waste using
no water and minimal energy–Non-toxic and low GHG emissions. Rockstock is a revolutionary breakthrough in papermaking
technology. A tree free mineral paper manufactured from milled quarry
waste. Want to know more then visit www.stonepaper.co.nz
In her mother’s footsteps
Matchitt is clearly a minimalist. When you walk into her office/manufacturing laboratory, you know the bells and whistles are not what
are important here. If anything, it is the exact opposite.
The room is sterile and clean, and tucked away in one corner is a
desktop computer and a simplistic system where orders are taken by
phone, email or online, and added to a bulldog clip pile of the day’s
deliveries to pack.
Nothing here is over the top or added for embellishment. Janine speaks of her business Viola Organics the same way.
Viola Organics is one of New Zealand’s few BioGro Certified organic
skin care ranges. Recently, the company celebrated its first
international franchise agreement, which sees the expansion of the Viola
brand into Canada. But the decision to create a franchise agreement
offshore did not come easy, Janine says.
“When most businesses are working hard to grow their stockists, grow
their ranges, add more to everything they do, I am very careful to
ensure that expansion does not water down the work that we are doing
here. I don’t want to grow rapidly and expand to a huge number of
markets. For me, the franchise was about finding someone as passionate
about the Viola formulations as we are, and not about mass-producing
something of a sub-standard quality,” she says.
And Janine should know – the company was formed in 1986 by her mother
Pamela after a cancer diagnosis resulted in an organic, clean lifestyle
becoming more than just a way of life, but a way to ensure she was
doing everything she could to heal her body.
Thankfully the cancer went away, but the business idea was well and truly formed.
Janine still has the original catalogue her mother would produce each
season for her loyal customers – hand-typed and stapled with a faded
blue cover. At that stage the catalogue included organic herbs and
spices too, as in the late 80s sourcing organic products in Whangarei
and throughout the North Island was a little hard to come by.
“I look at this catalogue that mum has created and the hours it must
have taken her. Each product she created would be made only in small
batches to retain purity and quality. Then she would fill jars with it,
and for a finishing touch, glue a dried viola flower to the top of the
lid. It really was quite sweet,” Janine recalls.
There were no online sales back then, so market [stalls] were the way
to go. Popularity for the organic, natural products rose and soon the
catalogue was being posted around the country for eager new customers.
Fast forward to 2003, and Janine was looking for a new challenge after
selling another small business she had built up to glory and sold at its
“I was looking for a new challenge and mum was looking to retire, so
it became a natural step that I would take over Viola,” she says. “I
didn’t just get given it, though – there were many, many hours of
training from mum. I had to make sure I could perfect the proven product
formulations, and had to learn every step for every formulation before I
was allowed the reins.”
Janine took over as managing director of the company and had a few
ideas of what was needed to happen to bring it into the new age.
Firstly, all records had been kept by hand, with not a computer in
sight. “I had to load every file, every customer name, every database,
and bring the business online. A website was created so we would make it
easier for our customers who want to shop from the Internet, and I
researched becoming Bio-Gro certified.”
BioGro certification process is stringent, with continuous audit
processes part of the ongoing work with the organisation to ensure the
company is worthy of using the title. Expansion has always been part of
Janine’s plan since taking over the reins – however, not in the
traditional format that many people might assume. Firstly, she swears
her products will never be mass produced or sold through big name
stockists, and she doesn’t like the idea of a factory or machines
creating the products Viola has become known for.
“It sounds old-fashioned or antiquated but I will not apologise for
that. Having someone make the formulations to license doesn’t sit well
with me. I can’t check everything before it goes out.
“It is about maintaining my ethical stance, and that comes from how
Viola was created and founded in the first place. It was through a need
for something that was natural, pure, healthy for the inside rather than
just being a large company trying to sell as much as possible.” The new
Canada operation shares the same thoughts.
“While I would not rule out more franchise agreements, it would have to be with the right person, in the right country.”
BioGro Certification & What it means for you
world is increasingly tuning into the idea that chemicals are not good
for your body. As such, it is natural for you to seek ways to make sure
the food you eat and the products you use come from organic sources.
BioGro certification is a way of proving that products are organic,
which in turn allows you to make intelligent choices about the products
you use. Companies who use the BioGro label have to go through a
rigorous testing process, and understanding more about it can help you
determine whether the products associated with this label are right for
Why BioGro Organic?
All farmers have to control growth, pests and diseases in some way.
Organic farmers use naturally occurring products to achieve this, such
as manure for their crops. In contrast, non-organic farmers may use
chemicals and medicines you do not want to consume every day, such as
growth hormones for meat. Many of the effects organic fans worry about
are both short and long-term. Overuse of antibiotics has led to
resistant bacteria, and there is evidence to suggest that the long-term
build-up of growth hormones and pesticides can disrupt your endocrine
system; that means they play havoc with your hormones.
Organic Beauty and Why it Matters
Your skin is the largest organ on your body, which is why you need to take good care of it
in the right way. What you put onto your skin matters, and although the
skin acts as a barrier between you and the outside world, it can absorb
small amounts of chemicals. There are no legal requirements when it
comes to using an organic label on a beauty product. This is why relying
on the BioGro organic certification process is the simplest way to make
sure you are applying the right products to your skin. You cannot
inspect the beauty products’ producers yourself, which is why BioGro do
it for you.
In recent years, the media has highlighted the link between
non-organic beauty products and certain skin conditions. There is
evidence to suggest that these products may exacerbate the symptoms
associated with eczema, psoriasis, and similar conditions.
How BioGro Organic Certification Works
Technically, any farmer could claim to grow organic food and you
would not know whether their farming and beauty standards meet the
minimum requirements. That is why regulatory bodies like BioGro
exist: they inspect the farms and beauty product producers and make
sure the practices stand up to the standards you expect as a consumer.
BioGro’s process allows beauty product producers to claim that
standards meet international and domestic standards. In order for this
to happen, they must meet the following requirements:
All the ingredients used in the product have been assessed to ensure they meet organic standards
The labels on the products are clearly detailed and honest, allowing you to make an informed choice about what you are buying
The non-organic ingredients present in the product are only there because there were no organic versions available
The processed ingredients the manufacturer used are assessed by BioGro
Organic Beauty for Children
Children use beauty and healthcare products to maintain hygiene. As
paediatric skin is still developing, it is important to minimise the
risk of it coming into contact with chemicals that may harm it. If a
product you purchase features the BioGro Organic logo, you know it is
one of the safest products available for your child to use.
Naturally, you invest in your beauty because you want to see great
end results. You should therefore be pleased to learn that organic
beauty works as well as any other form of beauty. This means BioGro
certification allows you to enjoy the best physical and aesthetic
Green Goddesses featured Canvas magazine NZ Herald 26th Sept 2009
new businesses were set up primarily to provide their owners with a
profit. Making money was the key motivator and other, more meaningful,
altruistic considerations seldom figured. But today increasing numbers
of women are going into business for much more wholesome reasons than
merely making a buck. These are the so-called green goddesses: women
with great ambitions to save the planet, keep us healthy and make us
feel good – preferably all at the same time. writes Shelly Bridgeman of