Frankie Apothecary business entrepreneur set to grow and nourish AWWA

By Makayla Wallace-Tidd for Good Magazine.

Starting out as a lawyer with a young daughter who suffered from extreme eczema, there were long nights of tears and pain. Michele Wilson drew on her Māori heritage and research skills to develop a kawakawa balm that is all natural. As a last hope, the Rongoā medicine succeeded.

Innovative thinking and marketing lead Wilson to be the owner of successful business Frankie Apothecary. A business that started small selling the kawakawa balm she developed, and branched out into other natural skin soothers and healers.

“I wanted to grow Frankie Apothecary into a thriving, profitable enterprise, firstly to bring families relief from eczema, but also to add to the impressive number of businesses headed by wahine Māori,” Wilson explains.

The next step in the inspiring wahine’s story is the sale of Frankie Apothecary in order to focus 100 per cent on her new business, I am Eva (now AWWA).

Her hope is to use her platform to support and encourage Māori wahine in business.

“We as Māori are innovators. We have always been innovators, and it’s about time we become known as such.”

AWWA was launched last year, alongside business partner Kylie James. It is New Zealand’s first period-proof underwear line. The Kickstarter page raised twice their target amount, and early sales meant they were able to develop a second style of period underwear.

Kiwi women were very happy to be able to crowdfund a New Zealand-based period proof underwear brand that is contributing to a 'single-use-plastic' free world.

“With AWWA, women can manage their flow so easily – no single-use, plastic-heavy products needed,” Wilson explains.

A single sanitary pad can contain up to the same amount of plastic as a supermarket shopping bag.

“That’s not good, from a sustainability perspective, or from a cost perspective. Women are expected to spend $16,000 in a lifetime on period care.”

Michele said AWWA is a fantastic option for period care as the underwear uses slimmer layers, captures more flow than competing brands while remaining comfortable and discreet. Cultural or health restrictions can prevent people from using tampons and it can often be a frightening experience for young teens. AWWA period underwear provides a solution for these.

While Wilson has sold Frankie Apothecary, she ensures the business will continue to use the same high-quality kawakawa oil, which is harvested and produced by her whanau in Mangawhai.

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