Global sustainable beauty company Kester Black has established its headquarters in Wanaka after founder Anna Ross recently relocated to be near family after 12 years living and working in Melbourne.
Anna created Kester Black in 2014, operating the business which creates ethical, sustainable and 100 per cent vegan cosmetics out of Melbourne. The brand is synonymous with style and fun and takes its name from St Kester Bay in Queen Charlotte Sound which to Anna is the pinnacle of New Zealand beauty.
The company’s initial catapult to success was through luxury vegan nail polishes with ethical formulations and beautiful colours personally developed by Anna. The nail polishes have a cult-like international following and the company has attracted 24 international beauty awards.
“We have strong values surrounding our ethical and environmental footprint, so everything we do comes with plenty of consideration of these factors,” says Anna. “We open-sourced all our formulations from the get-go and accreditations have been a big part of what we do. I wanted external certifications to validate the claims we were making so we got Cruelty Free and Vegan certifications early on and were the first cosmetics company in the world to become a certified B Corp. Kester Black has also been certified carbon neutral since 2017.”
Anna says the typical Kester Black devotee is a woman who likes high-performing and fashion-forward products, is interested in supporting female-led business and is committed to sustainability.
Once aware of her customer demographic for her nail polish, Anna took the plunge and expanded her product developing high-quality, long-wearing vegan lipsticks that are 100% clean “with no nasty chemicals”.
“Women are pretty brand loyal when they find a lippy they love so it was imperative for us to launch a top-performing product,” she says. “That’s why we eventually ended up manufacturing our lipsticks in Italy at the same manufacturer that makes Burberry, Chanel and Tom Ford cosmetics. Our nail polishes are made in France where the same companies also manufacture so it’s pretty special that our brand makes luxury, quality products for a fraction of the price.”
Although the past seven years have been non-stop for Anna and Kester Black, there are no plans to slow down. In fact, she is currently raising capital to expand the business into other beauty categories.
“Interested investors can join the journey and it would be amazing to see Southern Lakes locals support our little Wanaka-based, global brand and be part of something truly special as we take Kester Black to the next level.”