I was browsing a Rarotonga buy and sell Facebook page when Asher’s Apple Pie Hair Serum caught my eye.
Having such thick Pacific wavy hair as I do is, unfortunately, not easy to manage.
All of the hair shampoos and conditioners I’ve used, have not at all given my hair the healthy look and texture it needs.
Upon receiving the product, I managed to apply a bit of it, and the aroma of the serum and soft texture it gave my hair is just wonderful.
And this hair product has a story that resonates in these tough times: a local on the outer islands, using the best the island has to offer to craft a new business.
Jean-Marie Francis is enchanted with the island of Ma‘uke and its natural resources.
It inspires her to use the natural products in the skin and hair care products she creates
She handcrafts her products using traditional methods in the tranquillity of her island home, the Kimiangatau homestead in Ma‘uke.
Francis is a grandmother in her mid-50’s and she is proof of her products – if you saw her it would be hard to believe her age.
Nothing makes Francis smile more than to see her products reaching the markets, not just in New Zealand and Australia, but locally here in the Cook Islands too.
Her new serum is made from pure Ma‘uke coconut oil, moringa, sweet almond oil with an added naturally derived fragrance. The special serum is named after her beloved grandniece.
To complement the serum, Francis developed two organic shampoo bars and crumble; Coconut King - named after her grandson Kingslee, and Nanny's Special Recipe, dedicated to the memory of her grandmother.
Speaking to Francis, she explained that her hair used to fall out.
“It’s something I experience on a daily basis and it can get irritating.”
Francis said the inspiration came from her nanny and mum who washed her hair as a child in pure coconut cream. Her mum explained that it promoted growth, added protein and removed dandruff.
“I took their wisdom and added a modern twist”.
The full coconut cream and uto shampoo also helps to straighten and contain fly away hair.
“They are a big seller locally, cost effective and a little goes a long way,” she says.
Francis moved to Ma‘uke in 2014 with a dream to retrace the footsteps of her paternal grandfather, a well-known Englishman who moved to Mauke in the 1930’s and wrote several books about life in a south seas paradise.
She later focused on developing quality oil for medicinal purposes.
Taking advantage of the coconuts planted by her father in the backyard of their homestead forty years ago, she added the benefits of moringa to her oil which forms the base ingredient for all her products.
It was in Ma‘uke that she developed the Jeani brand, and her range of products have all been inspired by generations of her family.
The first was for her grand-daughter Baylee-Bree, who suffers eczema from dietary allergies.
Francis developed the premium product Organic Moringa Mori, BB's Oil.
"I did a lot of research and created the oil to help BB with reducing her rash, itching and redness," she said.
“During trial testing on different skin types on Ma‘uke and New Zealand, I discovered it’s not just for eczema, it helps with acne, scarring, pigmentation, moles and skin tags, cuts and abrasions – in fact many minor skin conditions from insect bites, to mouth ulcers and cold sores.”
Francis, is a determined businesswoman selling her Jeani range in New Zealand and Australia. Despite Covid-19, she is now testing the market in the Cook Islands and has produced a limited batch for Rarotonga and the Pa Enua.
Her focus for 2020 and not letting Covid-19 stand in her way, and to grow her market beyond Oceania.
She says the reputation of her products are built by word of mouth where people have used the products and are sharing the benefits of them.
· You can find the Jeani range and order on her Facebook page: Jeani