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We’ve seen a number of categories explode with premium products in recent years: coffee, beer, and even peanut butter. But recently chocolate has been on the rise. In fact, specialty chocolate is the fastest growing segment for chocolate.

Wellington Chocolate Factory is New Zealand’s original craft bean-to-bar chocolate company, and has been the market leader ever since.

“We boast the only certified organic chocolate bar in New Zealand. We’re very much driven by quality in product and the ethics of how we source our cacao beans, and being a force for good,” says founder Gabe Davidson.

“Most people don’t realise…


We all know the saturation of craft beer, and how hard it can be to stand out from the crowd. But strong community engagement can also help drive sales — on a recent trip to the Hawke’s Bay, it seemed most venues only had one beer on tap.

Brave Brewing is an award-winning brewery run by husband and wife team Matt and Gemma Smith, based in the sunny Hawke’s Bay.

“We are a friendly neighbourhood brewery, and we’ve been serving Hawke’s Bay with really good beer for over 6 years now,” says Gemma.

I asked Gemma how Brave Brewing got…


Frances Shoemack has a simple goal — make the world’s best natural perfume.

Her vehicle for that is Abel Odor, the natural perfume company she founded 8 years ago after a failed search for natural perfume.

“There was this burgeoning niche perfume industry but there was no one who was thinking about where the ingredients came from,” says Frances.

“So I decided to make a natural perfume that would stand up to the world’s best, while giving thought to where ingredients come from, how good they were for you, without compromising on ethics, design or aesthetics.

“My background is in…


We’re all well aware of the challenges of sustainability around the fashion industry. Whether it’s fast fashion, the manufacturing of materials or where our clothes end up when we’re done with them, as an industry it leaves a lot to be desired.

One Auckland company is looking to change that impact. Goodlids is a headwear brand looking to revolutionise the use of hemp as a material by being ‘nice for your head and good for the planet’.

“Hemp is an awesome material — from a performance perspective it wears really well, and is very breathable,” says founder Dane Watson.

“From…


At the start of 2020, most of us wouldn’t have owned a facemask. Few had a regular use for them, and the idea of mandatory usage on public transport or seeing most people wearing them on the street was a foreign concept. But now they’re fairly commonplace.

Dan Bowden is CEO and co-founder of Aō Air. Along with his co-founders, Ilya and Jerry, Aō Air have developed the Atmos — their flagship air filtration mask.

“2020 has been an assault on the respiratory system — starting with wildfires and now COVID,” says Dan.

“Our masks have been independently validated to…


How do you create a career niche for yourself? It’s a question that has fascinated me as I’ve learnt from various roles and tracked the careers of others.

Kristy Grant is Chief Executive of the newly formed Lane Street Studios. But across her career she has carved herself a niche in unique spaces and education pipelines within the creative sector, starting with the Roxy5 film competition, through to Miramar Creative Centre and Courtney Creative.

I asked Kristy how she got started in the creative sector and the rundown on her various projects.

“My background was in trade and logistics and…


Men’s skincare and grooming has undergone a renaissance in the last decade. The industry has exploded as fellas have rediscovered routine and process and the value of products, inspired more by their grandfathers than their fathers.

Triumph & Disaster is a men’s natural skincare and grooming company who were at the cutting edge of that renaissance. Led by CEO and founder Dion Nash, they’re now in their tenth year as one of New Zealand’s leading men’s brands and attracting global recognition.

I asked Dion how Triumph & Disaster got started and what triggered his insight that men’s skincare was a…


When you think winery, you probably have visions of sitting among vines, tastings in a rural setting, a hot day. But down Ebor Street in downtown Wellington, you’ll find a different take on what winery means.

Te Aro Wine is an urban winery, making wine right here in the city, and changing perceptions of what a winery can be.

“We make fun wine not fine wine. We focus on low intervention wines, orange wines, pét-nat (which stands for pétillant naturel, French for “natural sparkling”) — anything that’s interesting and different to your usual winery experience,” says Jules van Costello co-founder…


We’ve all seen how amazing drone footage can be. It provides visually immersive angles and new perspectives on landscapes from above. But until recently, the noise factor meant drone footage was effectively a silent movie — the audio was unusable.

Dotterel Technologies are leaders in UAV acoustics, and develop noise reduction and audio recording technology for UAVs, expanding the uses for drones across the board.

Dotterel’s original technology demonstrated noise reduction for drones using acoustic shrouds and improved safety overall. …


Two out of three New Zealand homes have a dog or a cat, and it’s said the other third want one.

But even though we love our pets, chances are we haven’t given much thought to the current quality of our pet food — or if you have, it’s been a challenge to find the right fit.

Animals Like Us is a pet wellness company. Rob Achten is co-founder and CEO, starting the company alongside Jeremy Moon (founder of Icebreaker, where he and Rob first worked together) and Craig Hickson.

Says Rob, “Our purpose is to nurture beautiful relationships between…

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Business stories from New Zealand. Exploring niches from our corner of the world.

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