IN CONVERSATION WITH THE FOUNDER
Three years ago, Juul de Schouwer said goodbye to Amsterdam and moved to a tiny beach town on the west coast of New Zealand. With leaving the city behind came a shift in lifestyle; a way calmer life - more outdoorsy and more in tune with nature. At the end of 2020, Juul launched her own natural skincare brand Marama. In her Botanical Studio, she creates natural skincare and soap, all inspired by herbs indigenous to Aotearoa New Zealand.
HOW DID MARAMA COME TO BE?
When I moved to New Zealand about three years ago, my life gradually started to revolve around being in nature. I found myself living outside for most of the time - something that I wasn’t really used to in the Netherlands. Partly because I was living in a city, partly because the Dutch climate doesn’t really allow you to be outside the whole year around.
I found that with being outside more and being surrounded by New Zealand’s beautiful nature, my interest in and use of natural products started to grow. I started to self-study essential oils and the medicinal properties of the indigenous herbs and plants of New Zealand - and how they have been used in Māori culture for centuries. All of a sudden, I could find all these plants in my own backyard and access them to use them in my daily life.
I slowly started to make natural skincare products and soap, trying out different recipes and techniques and giving them away to my friends to try. Turning my products into a brand was something that was shimmering in my mind, but I didn’t want to make ‘just another soap’. I really wanted to work with the knowledge I’d gained in the last couple years and create a product line where products flow into one another, all built up from native ingredients.
I carried the idea for Marama for months but it didn’t reach its physical form until Covid-19 popped its head up. During a super strict lockdown, that for me turned out into a long period of rest, I found all my values and ideas for the brand just flowing together into what Marama is today. I
'I wanted to create a product line where products flow into one another, all built up from native ingredients'.
think that, in a way, my soaps and skincare products represent my past and my present; I translate my knowledge of natural products and essential oils into smart sculptural designs. It is the combination of design - a possible reference to my past in Amsterdam, living in a city and being surrounded by more high end architecture and design aesthetics - and indigenous products of the land where I found my second home, which make my products mirror a bit of myself.
'I find that, as a business owner, you have the responsibility that what you offer is fair, transparent and that it’s not damaging our planet any further'.
WHAT ARE MARAMA'S KEY VALUES?
I make my products with love and dedication. They are all handmade and completely plant based. Most ingredients I source and buy from local suppliers - I believe in the power of supporting (small) local businesses. Other ingredients I plant and/or harvest myself, honouring rongoā medicine. From an ecological point of view I produce in small batches; to make sure all products are fresh and to limit waste.
I find that, as a business owner, you have the responsibility that what you offer is fair, transparent and that it’s not damaging our planet any further.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?
I find my inspiration in many different ways. I’m a very visual person, I add a lot of value to the aesthetics around me. I love design, magazines, photography, film. I find it really calming and inspiring to find myself in a surrounding with nice aesthetics, whether that is designed by humans or by nature. I used to get a lot of inspiration
I care about nature, my personal footprint and about the impact my business has on the environment. This translates to using no chemicals, no nasties, no animal testing whatsoever.
I experience that quite often, the easiest and cheapest solutions to problems you face as a product developer, are usually not the most sustainable. Sometimes, it means you have to go the extra mile to find the right solution, which can be frustrating - but it’s not impossible, and the outcome is definitely worth it.
from being in the city, but it is fascinating to experience the inspiration I can get from nature now. Especially when I'm going for a surf and find myself totally in the moment, only focussing on the water movement around me, makes me able to clear my mind and make space for new ideas to come in.
Other than that I'm a big podcast fan. Whether the subject is about culture, business minded material, feminism, music or talks with a interesting person, for me it's the perfect way to fill up some quiet moments of the day and learn new things.
WHAT DOES YOUR DAILY BEAUTY ROUTINE LOOK LIKE?
In the morning I have a quick shower without washing or wetting my hair. In the morning I normally choose between Rising Up or Cooling Down soap bar to wash myself with. Rising Up for an energetic effect on my nervous system, Cooling Down for more of a refreshed feel. After the shower I apply some Marama Revive face oil while my skin is still damp to lock the hydration in and to give my skin a nice natural glow. I let the oil work into my skin while I drink a cup of tea. I use a light foundation with an SPF factor to protect my skin from sun damage. I apply some blush and most days, that’s basically it.
The bathing ritual I definitely enjoy the most, is having a shower in the evening. I like to
create some me-time with a nice candle and some music, or an interesting podcast. I’ve always enjoyed doing this, even when I was younger I could spend hours in the bathroom, using face and hair masks, body scrubs, etc. You wouldn’t see me for hours.
Scent is a very powerful tool to bring back memories, it can instantly bring you back to a certain place, time or person. Within the Marama range it is also a very important factor; I believe that scent can bring comfort to your mind and can make a space or person feel like home.
'I believe that scent can bring comfort to your mind and can make a space or person feel like home.'
I normally cleanse my face with the Eclipse soap bar that contains a subtle scrub and quite often I use the Calming Down soap bar before going to bed. After my shower, I dab my face dry with a soft towel and apply a new Marama evening face oil, which is getting tested at the moment to be added to the range.
WHY DID YOU WANT TO BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR?
I have been thinking about starting a business for a long time. With every new idea that came to mind, I always asked myself the question: how sustainable is this idea? Does it benefit the way that we are currently living and/or can it improve our lifestyle? Starting your own business comes with responsibilities. I really find that my responsibilities lay in creating something that can benefit the world's need in a better way, as in: less packaging, a better and greener and more fair product. I didn’t want to create something that doesn’t align with those beliefs.
Also, I’m an Aries. The star sign that is often described as being true and natural leaders. I don’t necessarily see myself that way, but I do very strongly feel the need to create and follow my own path, to play by my own rules. So in that sense, it was a logical step for me to start something for myself and have the complete creative freedom to do what I think looks, feels, smells and works best. I find excitement in that every day. I do feel that sometimes I can get carried away pretty easily and that I can’t focus on one particular thing for a very long time. For a small business owner, that’s kind of perfect though, because there are so many different tasks that need my attention. Product making, branding, photography, social media, website building, finance. I worked in several different jobs in the past. I have experience in retail, buying, photography, e-commerce and branding. I feel that all those different work experiences come together in running a small business.
HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE?
Honestly, if you would have told me 5 years ago, that I would be living in New Zealand now and that I’d have my own natural skincare company, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Not a single cell in my body would have imagined that scenario. So who knows where the future is going to take me? I hope one day, I’ll be able to take Marama to Europe and roll out the brand there - keeping the sustainable values and producing locally.
This might sound a bit dreamy, but what I have learnt from life is that you can not plan things, only to a certain extent. I’m excited to discover new things every single day, to learn and grow, both personally and professionally.