A new skincare company is thriving having started from a mother’s desperation to help her son.
Kuki Natural Remedies* is owned by businesswoman Maria Leota.
Today the company creates skincare products for a range of ailments from cooking burns, muscle and joint pains, cuts, wrinkles and sore joints and scarring.
Their product range include the Charcoal Balm, Ginger and Turmeric Balm, Fetau Salve (Tamanu oil) and Fetau Oil to remove acne, scars, body odor, regrow hair and skin fungal conditions.
But it all started from their humble beginnings.
“I’ve used natural remedy because we were so poor and I’ve never been disappointed with the results,” she said. “My son was always accident-prone; he was always burning himself and after numerous comments from people, I found the Samoan remedies was the result.”
There was another reason.
“We couldn’t afford over the counter medicine hence sticking to Samoan remedies.”
Known to her friends as the “Kuki Queen,” Mrs. Leota who has been living in Samoa for over 20 years is married to Namulauulu Sami Leota. They have two children, Karla and Anthony.
“My son had a huge burn on his face from an iron. After consulting with people, similar remedies were suggested to me and that was the bamboo."
“In 2015, I had a severe burn on my chin and I remember that I used bamboo with oil. So I went right back to the bamboo and it was unbelievable how fast it took the pain away, that gave me the idea of the kuki products.”
The Leota’s family kitchen turned into a lab for three years where they tested and researched products.
“It took me a couple of years to get it to this stage. We had no kitchen until I mastered the current kuki collection of handmade, natural remedies which have a more traditional approach to healing.”
The Kuki Company is located at Vaivase-uta.
“We use only the finest, quality ingredients that the Pacific Islands naturally provides. Traditional Samoan culture still dominates the lives of our people and still use all natural and organic remedies to heal most ailments."
“We want to share our culture and ancient remedies with the rest of the world by modernizing them into balms, salves, oils, powders and soaps."
“Our company is cutting edge in providing natural, artisanal skincare from the heart of Samoa."
“Using mainly indigenous and botanical ingredients, our product is at the forefront of alleviating a range of ailments and conditions; including burns and aches and pains from overuse of specific muscles.”
Mrs. Leota also revealed that they are working on an anxiety balm, which should help your body relax.
“We are currently getting interested clients from Hawaii, Europe but our main market is Australia and New Zealand."
“I have some inquiries from London but we are currently working on exporting our products but it’s quite a lengthy process."
“I’ll start the certification soon as I really want to export to Europe; they are the buyer of natural remedies in the world and in fact 75 percent of natural remedies are bought in Europe.”
The first test of their famous Charcoal balm was a success.
A man who suffered second and third degree burns contacted their company 12 hours after he was discharged from the hospital.
“We quickly proceeded to melt down the balm with more coconut oil and used a soft paint brush to apply to his wounds."
“In about an hour, the foul odour disappeared and he could open his left eye, the heat started to lessen and his skin stopped sweating."
“He applied this balm for up to two to three weeks until there was no more fluid and infection. He had mobility in his burnt elbow after 24 hours and it was a success.”
But the business is not just about natural remedies.
There is also the Kuki Gift Shop which focuses on fashion.
“So the fashion was accident to be honest, and look at it now, I’ve been getting orders from Alaska, Hawai’i and Pago Pago,” she said.
Mainstream media and social media visibility is enabling a Samoan natural remedy and fashion company to attract more customers in the region.
Kuki recently attended the Pasifika Festival and the Pacific Trade and Invest Path to Market programme in Auckland.
Mrs. Leota said they received a lot of queries and purchases from customers in New Zealand and Australia.
“People identified with our story and wrote to us about their experiences,” she said. “In the past month alone, our natural remedies sales have risen quite significantly, around 50 per cent.”
Growing online interest is reflected in a rise of weekly orders, which they send out by post and air freight.
“We continue to update our Facebook and Instagram pages on our new developments,” she added.
The company also works with local partners Women in Business, Chamber of Commerce and Samoa Association of Manufacturers and Exporters.
* This story was initially published under the headline “Natural remedies created company” in the Samoa Observer on Monday. Parts of the article were left out and this is why it has been reprinted today.