Protect What You Love


An international project with its roots very much planted back here in New Zealand – Activist Manuka is a new Manuka honey brand founded by LA-based New Zealand couple Luke Harwood and Gabrielle Mirkin.

It’s the visual identity that first caught my eye, but I then discovered Luke and Gabrielle’s story is a very inspiring one…

They’ve each traded their individual fast-paced fashion careers in New York (Gabrielle as a senior designer at Vogue, and Luke managing US market development for Stolen Girlfriend’s Club, a brand he co-founded) for a much more chill existence in California. Gabrielle became very very sick with Lyme disease, and the couple moved home to New Zealand for a year, putting everything aside for rest and healing, which they did from a piece of land they own in Coromandel. Friends asked if they could put some hives on the property, and the couple fell in love with bees…

Returning to America, the couple settled in beachside California, and began work on starting their own honey company.

The name – Activist – not only derives from the active natural antibacterial properties of the Manuka, but is also nod to New Zealand’s proud history of activism, paying respect to those who dedicate their lives standing for something they believe in.

Activist works more in partnership with their New Zealand bee-keepers and land owners, to give Americans access to potent, A-grade NZ Manuka honey (raw, unprocessed and from small batches), not the mass-distributed and mass-white-labelled commodity the country has traditionally had presented to them: “We believe it’s important that New Zealand and its resources are represented authentically on a global scale, rather than sold off to international companies to be rebranded and diluted. If that means building a slower growing, sustainable business, that’s cool with us.”

(Doing good by doing good – you guys know that’s one of my fave things).

They enlisted the branding prowess of their friend and fellow Cali-based New Zealand, Art Director Fred L’Ami. The brand also features beautiful New Zealand imagery from another friend, fine art and documentary photographer Derek Henderson.

My US readers (I see you there on Google Analytics!) – contact Luke and Gabrielle at Activist to find the closest stockist in your area. New Zealanders, Activist is available here exclusively from Simon James Design at this stage.


Activist   online store  /  Instagram




Chris Lim has had a passion for fragrance for as long as he can remember. As a young child, he was captivated by his mother and aunty’s perfume collections, and at 17, he started working for high end fragrance brands. They say it takes 10,000 hours / 10 years to achieve mastery in a field – at just 35, Chris Lim is  a master of fragrance design.

His New Zealand-based brand, Maraca, sits in the home fragrance category but takes it up a notch – all Maraca’s fragrances are developed in a Parisian perfumery, uses only premium natural oils. When you smell the jasmine in Maraca’s Velvet Noir candle, you’re smelling oil from a jasmine flower grown in Egypt, not a synthetic copycat.

Maraca fragrances are also incredibly technical and compositionally complex, which means you get to discover and experience different layers throughout the burn. Chris will tell you, he doesn’t just want something to smell nice – he wants to tell you a story. The Sevillian Neroli, for example, was inspired by a trip to the historic Jardines del Generalife in Alhambra, Spain, and Chris aims to transport you there with him – recreating the famous gardens’ ambiance during the warmth of summer. The citrus bouquet has eleven different notes, to take you on a sensory journey. There’s a sister scent from that same trip, this one green, leafy and earthy in contrast, to evoke the heady scent the garden has in autumn and winter. Yeah, so no ‘Coconut & Lime’ here guys. Each fragrance takes many, many months to realise – the Sevillian Neroli took a full year of iterations and development.

All Maraca products are made and packaged here in New Zealand, and sold internationally.

Along with Maraca’s growing range of hand-poured candles (including luxury 80-hour-burn candles), diffusers, and body care products, Chris offers a bespoke fragrance design service. He’s currently developing a range of signature scents for a high-end fashion brand – watch this space…


The Unmistakable Effect

Young New Zealander designer Sian Richardson was travelling around Canada for a summer, wondering what was next for her in life and work, when the idea for The Unmistakable Effect came to her. A magazine to, in her words, get people stoked on winning at their own game. As Sian says: “We spend way too much time thinking about what other people think of us, or living life a certain way because we think we should, or just because that’s how it’s always been done… when in reality we can – and should – do whatever the hell we want.” GURRRRRRRRL. Yes.

She launched into creating a magazine based on this philosophy, and in just over a year has put out fourteen digital issues of The Unmistakable Effect. Amazing how productive you can be when you lean in to your passion. Each issue runs to a theme – I’ll give you a couple examples: Issue 01, No Apologies, is about doing things on your terms and being ‘selfish’. Issue 07, Inspiration vs Imitation, talks to creatives about their own experiences with people ripping off their work, and how they approach inspiration. Every issue includes interviews with inspiring, trailblazing women from every sphere (not just the creative world), resource round-ups that relate to the theme, a regular column where Steph Jagger jams on people’s big life questions, and more.


The interviews in The Unmistakable Effect are with women from every sphere – Rachel Ricketts is a writer and grief coach with an online platform that supports people through loss

New Zealand amputee model and fitspo, Jess Quinn

Issue 12 brings together the entire founding vision of the magazine – Winning at Your Own Game
– for a special print edition. Sian enjoyed the process so much that The Unmistakable Effect will be a quarterly print magazine going forward.

The digital version of The Unmistakable Effect. All 14 past issues are available to buy here.

For Issue 12, Sian created a special print edition of the mag. She loved the process and result so much that The Unmistakable Effect will be, from now on, a quarterly print magazine (with a digital version still available each issue for you thumb-swipey types).

If you’re after some inspirational summer reading, all 14 digital back issues of The Unmistakable Effect are available to purchase (individually or bundle those babes) here.


The Unmistakable Effect website  /  Sian Richo Instagram


The Alchemy of Giving

I got a lovely surprise this week when one of the beautiful Sans [ceuticals] Alchemy of Giving kits arrived at my house… but I would’ve shared them with you even if I hadn’t, because I love everything about this local-gone-global brand: its incredible soft-minimalist packaging; its realistic, woman-celebrating, self-nourishing representation of beauty; its founder (inspiring New Zealand beauty industry pioneer and businesswoman Lucy Marr); and most importantly its results-focused formulations, each one developed in collaboration with NZ’s best scientists to be superbly effective and multi-functional, while still being sans (it’s French for without) harmful, non-sustainable ingredients.

Lucy has created five special Alchemy of Giving kits (in the most delicious colour palette – russet and blush pink) with the concept that you can offer more than presents, but presence with a loved one. Each one is accompanied by a step by step ritual that invites you to give them (or yourself!) the gift of your time and touch – a head massage, reflexology or hair treatment.

I also wanted to mention Sans’ new 48-hr Reset Kit too… because the best gift you can give all year is a little time-out for yourself to reset and restore. This kit gives you all the tools for two days of gentle, joyous self-care and rejuvenation, including a range of Sans products, a guide to specific daily rituals and pamper rituals, beautiful recipes to make during your 48 hour reset, and a list of inspirational documentaries, podcasts, books, films, and Sans music playlists.

You can buy someone you love (that includes you, you’re amazing) a Sans Kit here.

© The New