Favourite Things: Nellie Tier Co-Director Wendy Kim

The new co-director of local skincare business Nellie Tier shares her most adored objects

Wendy Kim. Photo / Babiche Martens

Wendy Kim is the new co-director of Auckland-based skincare business Nellie Tier. And much like her favourite product in the natural range (she swears by the hydrating mask), she’s plumping the home-grown brand to a wider market.

Wendy had been a loyal fan of the skincare and gift range before joining the business team in 2016, becoming director in June this year. She launched its new to New Zealand baby range into South Korea in January last year and continues to reach out to the Asian community locally.

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“Nobody in the Asian community knew about us because of the language barriers — I thought I could change that,” she says.

Originally from Korea, Wendy has a background in languages, previously studying Japanese and English, and working as a translator and facilitator between countries. She describes her move to New Zealand in 1994 as a “kind of destiny” involving study for her masters in applied linguistics at Waikato University. Wendy lives in central Auckland with her Kiwi husband, whom she met here, with her 26-year-old daughter close by.

“When I arrived I had never seen such a natural environment,” she says. “Korea is grey with lots of apartment buildings and it was green and beautiful everywhere.”

Wendy suffered from troubled skin before looking into more natural alternatives. “I don’t put any makeup on, maybe because I’m lazy, but my skin is super-sensitive,” she says. “All along, I’ve had allergic reactions to different products.”

Then in 2013 Wendy had a major health scare when she was diagnosed with multiple fibroids. Puzzled that her healthy, non-smoking lifestyle led to illness, she set out to study the nature of topical causes.

“I found that our skin is the largest vital organ in our body,” she says. “Anything that goes on there, from shampoo and skincare, absorbs straight into our blood stream — especially chemicals.”

Then a friend recommended Nellie Tier skincare as “the good one” they have at Huka Lodge. “I really loved it,” she says. “Every time I went back to Korea I would buy it as a special gift.”

An acquaintance of Wendy’s set up a meeting with Nellie Tier founders Ann Porter and Sara Sadd. Unsurprisingly, they found Wendy to be a natural fit.

“They are inspirational and meeting them in person was really special,” says Wendy. “Luckily they liked me too.”

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Wendy now works alongside founding partner and co-director Sarah. Ann is recently retired but is still involved with the business as a shareholder.

“The products have grown a loyal fan base through word of mouth,” says Wendy. “Now I want to go out there, particularly to the Asian community and younger generations, and talk about it more from their point of view.”


The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Photo / Babiche Martens

1 The Five Love Languages
This book and Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus taught me that women and men can be fundamentally different. My husband is a Kiwi and my love language is gift giving when I meet somebody. It’s a form of gratitude. But it didn’t click for my husband, John, because he’s a Buddhist with a “less is more” philosophy. I read this book and then realised I had been pressuring my love language on him. His love is spending time together so we do that too.

Nellie Tier hydrating mask. Photo / Babiche Martens

2 Nellie Tier hydrating mask
I want all women to know that if you are over 25 your skin starts to lose collagen and elasticity. I’m well over 50 and in terms of maintaining beautiful skin it is two main things; hydration and vitamin C. Hydration is one of the most important things for healthy skin and this mask does this for me. I use it two to three times a week. Or after a sleepless night in the morning when I get ready for my day. It contains aloe vera gel, borage seed oil, hyaluronic acid and CO2 extracts.

Green tea pot. Photo / Babiche Martens

3 Green tea pot
Green tea is very subtle and sensitive. If you use a different container or cup it tastes different. At home I’ve got quite a few full green tea pot sets but you can’t transport them easily so I’ve got this little travel version. It’s a precious item so when I go on holiday I can take green tea with me everywhere.

Modified jacket. Photo / Babiche Martens

4 Modified jacket
My mum bought this handmade jacket for me in 1993 so it’s almost 26 years old now. At the time, we decided on a more practical version of a traditional design so I would end up wearing it more. I wear it now with jeans and get lots of compliments about it. It keeps me connected to my identity, my roots and where I came from, and especially my mum.

Buddhist beads. Photo / Babiche Martens

5 Buddhist beads
I come from a Buddhist background from my mum’s side of the family and my husband is Buddhist. These beads connect me with my spirituality and help me to practise mindfulness and compassion. As a Buddhist that’s very important and I always carry my beads on my body. When I feel a little bit sad or stressed they give me a calm feeling. I remember where I come from and to appreciate what I have here instead of complaining.

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