Our Visit to Pure Fiji HQ in Suva
Today Sam, our Area Manager, and I had the incredible privilege of visiting the Pure Fiji headquarters in Suva as part of the NZ Pure Fiji conference. In terms of business highlights over the last 10 years this one was near the top of the list. We arrived to the most incredible welcome – half of the spa and factory team came out and sang to us, before dragging us slightly more uncoordinated kiwis up to dance (read white girl shuffle).
Gaetane Austin, who founded Pure Fiji at her kitchen table In 1996, along with her daughter and co-owner Andree, then gave us a personal tour of the factory and explained the origins of their operations, and the ethos by which they operate. Quite sincerely we needed a box of tissues by the end as there weren’t too many dry eyes.
In such a high tech age, Pure Fiji live live by some really simple values: take care of the environment, harness what it provides and look after the people in the community in which you live. Andree relayed a story of some Italian business people telling them how much automating some of their production line would save them in employee costs. They are obviously well aware of this but take an almost anti-machine approach. Instead, they employ locally for every aspect of what they do to. Each job they create may well enable that employee to support their entire extended family. So when you buy a Pure Fiji product you know that it has been hand poured, the lids attached by a person and the labels then applied individually by one of the team. There’s even a seperate room dedicated to the gift package wrapping. So if you ever buy a product where the label is just a little off centre it’s a good reminder that a real person applied that for you!
From there it was out to the on-site garden. Incredible. Even as a proud stockist I had no idea that so many of the natural ingredients that go into pure Fiji products come directly from this garden. As in “that lemongrass over there – we use that in the insect repellent spray”. That was pretty cool. Major garden envy.
We also saw their solar drying rooms near the garden which are used to dry employee uniforms each day. There is no waste, and because the building is built on soap stone all compost is dug back into the earth. They estimated 20 active composting holes at any one time.
Onsite water goes through a 5-level filtration system for purity which allows them to keep the amount of preservatives in their products to a minimum.
The whole experience was moving and inspirational for any modern business.
Following our factory tour, it was across the laneway to the pure Pure Fiji yoga and fitness centre – a beautiful ivy grown along the back outside wall to help naturally cool the building. Here we received a hula lesson from Michelle who is a professional dancer as well as spa therapist at Pure Fiji. Sam and I now have some new moves 😉
We were then treated to a spa foot ritual in the onsite spa area. More garden envy for this little courtyard paradise that they book out to the public on each week. The short treatment was heavenly in it’s own right, but to be serenaded with guitar and song while watching our three spa therapists perform the ritual on us in complete sync was awe inspiring.
Andree then provided a beautiful homemade lunch for 20 of us upstairs, with such incredible attention to detail and table dressing. Not a plastic wrapper, plate or straw in sight. Everything is reused and recycled.
These amazing Austin women have created and grown Pure Fiji into a reputable international brand. They don’t seem to crave the public eye, letting their vision and products speak for themselves. And yet, what they have to offer above and beyond their delicious products is so much more. We left Suva thinking that Fiji is very lucky to have them. And I felt honoured to meet them and their inspirational team.