Indigenous ideas – NZ Herald


Tama Toki, Founder of Aotea Skin Care. Image / Supplied.

HP + printing technology provides the missing link in Aotea’s creative blueprint

It’s the inspiring brand that puts Aotearoa’s ancient wisdom on the world map. Still, Aotea likes to do things the old-fashioned way. When the skin care and wellness brand comes together to think, founder Tama Toki says the most powerful way to inspire, collaborate and ‘road map’ for their campaigns is to use a board. changing mood. Much of the creative marketing around the brand has been crafted this way, which they achieve by printing inspirational materials and pinning them to a cork board.

Tama's inspiring moodboard.  Photo / Léon Rose.
Tama’s inspiring moodboard. Photo / Léon Rose.

“I like being able to hold something in my hand, like I do when I’m reading – I love books,” says Tama, who divides her time between Gray Lynn’s office, Aotea Distillery (Great Barrier Island ) and their brick and mortar store in Commercial Bay. It is from here that they sell their unique blends of moisturizers and cleansers infused with native flora using ingredients grown on Aotea, such as mānuka honey (also sold in its raw form to eat), as well as the kawakawa, harakeke and kūmarahou.

“It’s also good to be able to show the team something that you can handle physically,” Tama adds of the printed materials. “You’re not limited to flat images on a screen. You have a raw canvas to work with, and it’s more fun, especially when you’re trying to express something. Plus, I like having a big space to work with, rather than being confined to a computer. “

The company has set up its own production plant on the island it is named after, a process according to Tama that has been “very difficult”, especially since Aotea is off-grid, with no water or cross-linked electricity. So it has been essential to find simpler ways of doing things, outside of manufacturing and product development. Access to the HP + Intelligent Printing System, designed specifically for home and small businesses, has enabled Aotea to streamline the creative and administrative aspects of the business.

Meanwhile, with Tama moving between workplaces, the HP + Smart app allows her to print securely from anywhere – including Aotea, where they grow and harvest mānuka, kūmarahou, harakeke and kawakawa, and distill and package their product, before it is shipped from Auckland. Then there are the practical applications, with the ability for the business to print documents, labeling and packing slips as needed.

HP OfficeJet Pro printer.  Photo / Léon Rose.
HP OfficeJet Pro printer. Photo / Léon Rose.

All of this allowed them to seamlessly fulfill online orders during the lockdown, especially for their export markets in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Japan, where demand for natural products and interest in New Zealand are skyrocketing. With an agent in Sydney as well, it’s a busy time for the brand, and a time that requires continued collaboration, creativity and inspiration.

One of the main ways Aotea used the power of print in its brainstorming sessions was conceptualizing its large format, a quirky addition to its packaging. When customers buy an Aotea product, they also receive a vintage style column that describes some of the ways they practice sustainability within the company.

“We printed pictures from old newspapers from the 1930s and 1940s, then put them on a cork board and we were inspired by them.”

Tama Toki Photo / Jono Parker, Supernormal.
Tama Toki Photo / Jono Parker, Supernormal.

The current edition incorporates Aotea’s principles with attractive blueprints for their solar power system and steam distillation unit. Most people buy the product for what it stands for, says Tama, and the large size gives customers the ability to see more of what they do as a business, outside of just making a product. .

While sustainability is a buzzword that many brands are launching, for Aotea it is linked to their kaitiakitanga, me, ngā kōrero i tuku iho, the traditional Maori management of resources. The Aotea product line is a unique expression of the island, says Tama, whose personal connection to the land and its heritage is deeply rooted in the brand’s ethics. Tama grew up on Aotea with whānau for whom the Maori principles of Tikanga were of great importance. His kuia was particularly influential in shaping his Te Ao Māori perspective and in teaching the therapeutic properties of many of the ingredients that could be found in the bush.

Aotea’s attention to environmental protection means that Tama also values ​​HP’s commitments. With HP +, Forest First prints mean that for every page Aotea prints, HP puts the planet first and will plant trees or protect forests. HP cartridges are also durable, which means less replacement, and any empty cartridges can easily be returned to HP through its recycling program, activated through HP Instant Ink.

Manuka flowers.  Photo / Getty Images.
Manuka flowers. Photo / Getty Images.

“Any business doing something to fix this problem and make an effort to reduce waste is fantastic,” Tama says.

Recognizing the potentially problematic nature of commercializing indigenous wisdom, Tama says he was sensitive to the idea of ​​connecting Te Ao Kōhatu (the old world) with Te Ao Hurihuri (the ever-changing world). While the easiest way to do this would have been to bring in a subcontractor, Tama instinctively felt that was not the direction to take.

“We had to do everything ourselves from scratch. So it took longer, but it seemed like the right way to do it.”

Part of this DIY philosophy has been to create the look of the brand itself. Just as all of Aotea’s products are made on the island, the company also strives to keep its design processes in-house.

“Because we’re a small business, we do a lot of the creative work ourselves,” says Tama. “This means that we often manufacture and print labels and other media that come with our product before we outsource them.”

Working with their in-house graphic designer, Tama and the Aotea team often simulate everything from packaging designs and flyers to certification documents, which they then print. Having something tangible allows them to rethink the size and scale as well as the aesthetic.

Aotea products.  Photo / Léon Rose.
Aotea products. Photo / Léon Rose.

“It really gives us a feel for the products before we get them printed with a publisher. It’s all part of the scoping process.”
Being able to print something, rather than emailing it to your team and looking at ideas on a computer screen, is a much more effective and tangible way to inspire ideas, says Tama. Much of their inspiration comes from the internet, which they print from Instagram, scientific journals, or other brands they admire.

Before a special brainstorming session before they got their HP + printer, Tama discovered that their Gray Lynn office printer was running out of ink. With an upcoming meeting and several ideas to print out, he ventured into the office building to see if his construction mates could help him.

“I’m not kidding, another was also out of ink and the other was completely exhausted. Three printers in one day!”

While he can laugh about it now, he’s relieved that with HP’s reliable cloud-connection technology he’s unlikely to find himself in this deadlock, and HP’s Instant Ink service also means it don’t have to worry about running out of ink again. Having a quality printer with smart capabilities means the creative process is that much easier and more fun to work with, he says.

“The great thing about printing your ideas is that you can see them, feel them, and it’s more intimate. “

To learn more about how HP + is modernizing today’s printing experience, visit

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