To know where you come from is to know your connection.
Goodbye SANDFLY is the foundation of our success as a business, and I’m glad of that because it keeps us honest. “CEO of a bug repellent company” as one of my teen daughter’s friends recently pointed out, is reasonably unglamorous. What is glamorous is that over many years of showing up to real conversations about natural products, wellness, and the power of being outdoors, is that we are living a life of integrity. We really live the messages that we bring to you. We really love the products we make. And our intention is always to make life better.
If I’d met sandflies before 1996, I certainly do not remember it.
John (boyfriend then, husband since 1999!) and I camped at the Welcome Flat trailhead on the West Coast in late afternoon getting ready for a walk the next day. As evening approached the sandflies got incredibly hectic and hungry.
There was another couple there that had on these nets like bee keepers and gloves on the hands totally covered and calmly making their dinner. John and I were a bit more jerky in our motions stirring and swiping, and swiping and chopping, and cooking and swiping. We dove into our tent, dispatched the sandflies that followed us in, and ate our dinner listening to the sound of “sandfly rain” on the fly of our tent.
I mentioned to John that those hats with nets were pretty great. He mumbled something about tourists and being very uncool.
And so began my learning about the great NZ sandfly country. Sandflies are a part of the Kiwi culture, and as such, Kiwis are usually more relaxed about dealing with them.
From 20 years of Kiwi influenced sandfly country experience, I have come to see that NZ sandflies are iconic. They can shape our perception, sometimes for the bad and sometimes with humour. All efforts at providing information through Goodbye reflect my desire that people have a better experience as a result of a little knowledge and light heartedness.
Goodbye Sandfly was formulated while working as canoe guides on the Dart River out of Glenorchy. We spent the summer of 1999 trialing different blends with willing canoe guests, getting feedback and refining the formula. It was part of 25 products made from Becky tromping around the bush and hassling friends for herbs and lavender. The only product of that original bunch that survived having kids was Goodbye SANDFLY. People kept asking for it, so we kept making it. And eventually instead of the brand Essential Touch NZ Ltd., offering bath salts and massage oils, we just became Goodbye SANDFLY.
The very first bottles of Goodbye Sandfly were given away to guests at our outdoor wedding in 1999. John (Kiwi) and I (Becky, American) met as raft guides working in Nepal in 1996. We have two children: Isaac and Helena who are our laughs, our growth, and now fully fledged product developers.
We moved to Karamea in 2006, and for the first time, we were actually living in sandfly country. I learned that sandfly bites can take a very long time to heal. Our house backed onto the bush, so we had sandflies in our house if the wrong windows were left open. Luckily by the time we moved there, I was a little less “sweet”, but our then 2 year old suffered. Goodbye Sandfly got daily use, and our understanding of the product and the environment improved.
Living with sandflies on a daily basis, and learning from our community, we realized that there is a lot of information to share. People on the coast have such a patient, grounded attitude about sandflies.
Now, we live in Kerikeri, where the sandflies are back to reasonable visitors instead of gnarly feasting crazed things. We see enough of them to keep us honest.
These sister brands came along in 2013, and what was meant to be a small product launch while we worked on “the sunscreen”, turned into 5 years of growing into their own personality and strength. Each one is a gift, providing support at the sharp edge of life. Dealing with cuts, scrapes, bruises, stings, and yes, headlice is part of it.
We believed it was possible to make a certified natural, high performance sunscreen that was a treat to use. Because that sunscreen took it’s own sweet time revealing its secrets, what we thought was only a year away, was a whole lot of formulations and years down the track. This is a product we are grateful to offer, because we know how hard we worked to bring it to you.
This is our way of keeping ourselves accountable to make sure our business foundation includes generosity. Our commitment is that at least 1% of our turnover goes to non-profit support. We chose One Percent because it is so much more powerful to work as a collective and attract people and businesses to participate. We’ve been working with OceansWatch since 2014, they are a world-wide organisation, but based in Whangarei. Their devotion and ethos are inspiring, and many people in that organisation have become friends.
We have been certified with NATRUE since 2016. We chose this organisation because it is the international benchmark for authentic natural product. We were (and continue to be) the only NATRUE certified brand in NZ grocery. With the proliferation of “nature inspired” brands keen to sell you pretty pictures of fruit on the front of the package, this certification has become even more important. It gives you the confidence that what we say and what we do are the same, that natural means natural.
We developed the Sandfly Map in late 2009, to provide people with a clearer picture of the location and intensity of sandflies in NZ. In September 2011 we launched our own digital magazine called It’s Not about the Bugs which provided “how to” and inpiration on natural living. The motivation is the same, and the blog is now called Outdoors is Good. We’ve offered courses, pdfs, talks, seed packets (over 10,000), hot chilli peppers, videos, recipes, product, and enthusiasm. Providing resources and interaction has always been a big a part of Goodbye products. Business is a vehicle for service and creativity, it grows us as much or more as we grow the it, as we serve the people around us.
Our kids are reaching maximum taxi service level- shuttling between sailing and hockey, tucking in surf missions (them, not me), and getting out on our own 28 foot keel boat (me, more than anyone). The Bay of Islands is a great place to have as a “backyard”. As of September 2018, we’ve moved our business from 19 years of running out of our home, to it’s own space. We hardly know ourselves, and wonder why it took us so long. Now, we have a clearer line between what is work time and what is family time and play time. This is such a healthy transition to have made, and I’m looking forward to the summer ahead.
Thanks for reading. If you’ve gotten this far, you probably need to Subscribe so that we can keep in touch. I’m a bit unpredictable, sometimes once every couple of weeks, sometimes every few months. But I do promise, whatever I write, it is original, and where the best of Goodbye happens.
Kind regards, Bex
ps. Every few months I add to our Milestones and Business Stories which now has quite a few years of news. There’s some great pictures in there. Should probably have done more, but at the time I didn’t think you’d want to see the early days pictures of us bottling at our kitchen table.