New Zealand Marine-Based Skincare Brand Syrene Launches At Mecca

Co-founder Jo Gilberd talks to Amanda Linnell about being the first New Zealand brand to be stocked at the beauty behemoth

Syrene's products include the use of use of seaweed extract and marine collagen. Photo / Supplied

It is exciting times for the owners of Syrene their skincare range will join some of the world’s leading niche beauty brands and be stocked by the mega-company Mecca from Monday 8 June, which has 100 stores throughout Australasia. Syrene speaks of the sea in its cool aquamarine packaging, while its use of seaweed extract and marine collagen means it is 95 per cent natural. It is the brainchild of Karen Yang and Jo Gilberd, who has a background in beauty product development for big brands in the United Kingdom. The pair met in New Zealand, and launched Syrene in 2016.

Mecca’s creative director Marita Burke says their team fell in love with Syrene. “First and foremost, we loved that we were supporting a home-grown brand from New Zealand. And then, of course, the product is beautiful. It’s packed with powerful ingredients, it’s light, it gently melts into the skin and the natural fragrance is very refreshing and uplifting. It was a super-easy decision to launch at Mecca and we are looking forward to our partnership.”

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The agreement is long-term, says Jo, and they have set goals and plans for the next five years at least. The first step will see Syrene sold online with Mecca from June 8, and it will then be stocked in stores later in the year. Being part of the Mecca family will, no doubt, also give access to its marketing and social media networks, such as the Mecca Beauty Junkie YouTube channel, which has had more than 5 million hits, along with #meccabeautyjunkie. The company is renowned for its interactive in-store experiences and events, such as the Australian beauty festival Meccaland.

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Sitting alongside more than 100 different global brands, the challenge for Syrene will be to hold its own in an overcrowded market. But, the company believes being the first from New Zealand along with its unique messaging and initiatives will help it stand out.

“Consumers are more educated than ever,” says Jo, “and while we have a full range — from a cleanser through to a sheet masque — we also understand customers don’t often use just one brand’s products and we are totally okay with this. We love that Mecca can recommend a few Syrene products along with another brand that would complement ours. At the end of the day, we want our customers to be happy and find a skin routine that will give them positive results.

Syrene founders Karen Yang and Jo Gilberd. Photo / Supplied

“Also, we don’t think customers are buying products just for the product itself. They want to feel connected to the brand, its story and ethos, which is what we’ve done well from the beginning. Knowing what we stand for and want to deliver.”

When developing Syrene, Karen and Jo were inspired by the book Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. “Anne uses seashell shapes and patterns to define a pathway for women towards calmness from the pressures of time and responsibility. We feel that we all need to lead calmer and more contemplative lives and so developed our range with that in mind. Syrene is an oceanic brand — from our key marine ingredients, our aqua packaging, our calming seabreeze fragrance and even the meaning of our name — it’s a combination of the words serene, meaning calm, and siren, meaning mermaid.”

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Growing the business from just the two of them to a team of 12 in such a short time is something the pair are proud of but, they’re not resting on their laurels. “We are currently working on bringing a serum into our Aqua range which the team has been trialling and perfecting for over a year. We’re also conscious about sustainability and have started using plastics that have been collected from the oceans and recycled into new packaging. Plus, we are looking to launch another collection soon, with a new, special marine ingredient in the mix.”

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