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.