In the early morning hours, a young girl wakes crying with painful eczema, and her mother runs to find her daughter’s delicate skin bleeding.
It's a common story and with 15% of our tamariki affected by eczema, too many parents know the agony of watching their child live with ongoing pain, cracked and seeping skin, harsh rashes and skin sensitivity.
No one does research like a desperate mother. This mother, like many others, began a long search for a way to ease her daughter's discomfort and heal her skin. Research into how eczema is treated worldwide led her home to her beloved grandmother's advice, and the world of Rongoā Māori (Māori medicine). Michele discovered that Māori have used native Kawakawa for centuries to treat skin conditions, and began a mission to formulate an effective, easy to use herbal balm.
She created the amazing formulation for the now famous Frankie Kawakawa Repair Balm. Using it first on her own whānau, Michele saw her daughter’s eczema disappear within a week. Friends asked for jars and Frankie Apothecary was created to meet the blossoming demand for a natural, effective remedy for eczema.
Beginning with the central Kawakawa Repair Balm, an adventure of discovery and creation unfolded to provide a range of bath, body and hair care for lovers of natural products, and those with sensitive skin.
Rongoā has been a journey home for both Michele, and her successor Georgina, as they follow the paths of their ancestors and share the benefits of their learning. Bringing calm and comfort to children is a huge motivator, and the Frankie team regularly receives moving messages from relieved and grateful parents.
A natural evolution began, centered around understanding the miraculous qualities of the native Kawakawa shrub. Nicknamed ‘the pharmacy of the forest’, Kawakawa was used traditionally for toothache, rheumatism, and skin conditions. It also makes an excellent immunity-boosting tea – just add a few leaves, ginger and honey to boiling water. (If pregnant, only use Kawakawa externally).
With laboratory testing scientists found that Kawakawa has a range of natural chemicals which have some incredible effects. These include pain-blocker Myristicin; powerful antioxidant Lignins; antimicrobial and analgesic properties useful for reducing inflammation caused by skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and rashes; and antiinflammatory Diayangambin which can help with anti-immune disorders like rheumatism and psoriasis.
A natural body care range was then created to provide alternatives to synthetic skin care with products such as Kawakawa Body Oil, Lip Therapy Balm and skin repairing Colloidal Oat Bath Soaks, Natural Epsom Salts and gentle Cleansing Bars. Their Breathe Easy Balm helps colds and congestion naturally without camphor or petrochemicals.
As children with eczema often can't tolerate standard commercial sunblocks with chemical filters, Frankie's natural sunblock was created, allowing Michele's daughters to safely enjoy the beaches and Georgina's daughter to play in the snow.
Hair care was a new adventure. They developed delicious smelling, pH balanced shampoo and conditioner bars that, like everything else in the range, are gentle and soothing but also long lasting and easy on the environment.
However the Frankie Apothecary story is far from complete. The team is constantly looking at ways to bring useful, natural, gentle products to the people that need them. Their spirit of discovery and scientific methodology mean they will continue to search for, and refine, products to make life easier for the many people on eczema journeys - and for those looking for a more natural way to live.