A Northland family owned business has been shortlisted for the Ultimate Hero BuyNZ Made business awards.
Bee Kind - a manufacturer of bees wax based polishing products and balms - was the only business in Northland awarded a 2016 BuyNZ Made Hero Award.
Each month a panel of judges selects a winner from licensed members of the Buy NZ Campaign after assessing award application submissions on criteria such as growth (here and overseas), business application, promotion of buying NZ Made and sourcing NZ products and also reputation.
Bee Kind was selected as one of the award winners in 2016 for the month of December and is now in the running for the Ultimate Hero award which is determined by public voting.
The company's Whangarei-based managing director and founder, Rachael Chester, said she hoped to win the Ultimate Hero award as "this is a great achievement for a little - but not so little growing company".
Ms Chester, who manufactures products fulltime by hand in her own workshop, said she started the business about six years ago selling online on Trade Me.
"From then every year the business has expanded - mainly due to word of mouth - and it has just kept growing," she said.
"We are now exporting to places such as the UK, France, Australia, Denmark, Japan, US and New Caledonia with more showing very positive interest.
"We've had to cap the amount of distributors and exclusivity with everything still being hand-made. We are struggling to keep up with supply and demand," she said.
Ms Chester said she wanted to keep the business in the family and keep everything bespoke and hand-made, rather than contracting out manufacturing, to avoid compromising quality.
Her daughter, Jessie, works full-time in Whakatane and has her own distribution warehouse there where she does all of the packing, export, online orders, admin and social media marketing.
She is also a co-owner of the company. "I've always maintained that I would always make everything by hand. It is certainly difficult, but we somehow manage," Ms Chester said.
The non-toxic, naturally made bees wax product includes the Naturally White Soap range for Horses and Hounds made with 100 per cent natural coconut oil, and Kawakawa Skincare products for animals and people.
None of the products contain harmful chemicals, parabens, neurotoxic petroleum by-products, solvents, turps, artificial fragrances, artificial preservatives - "basically just no nasties", Ms Chester said.
"I get my large blocks of bees wax from Haines Apiaries in Kaitaia and source most of my ingredients here in NZ with a focus on eco-friendly, cruelty free and 100 per cent natural products," she said.
Ms Chester said she thinks the key to the company's success is because the natural, high quality and genuine products work very well, coupled with a big emphasis on personal customer communication and excellent relationships with all clients.
"We are also very on point with online marketing and social media as my background is in advertising and web design."
To vote in the Ultimate Hero BuyNZ Made business awards visit www.hero.buynz.org.nz/ultimate/ .