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Natural healing

23 November 2022
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After a decade abroad, Hope Williams has returned to Christchurch with partner Matt Leadbetter to launch luxury lifestyle supplement brand OtherNature. Interview Josie Steenhart

Congratulations on launching OtherNature! Tell us a little about it and how it came about?

Thank you! The idea for OtherNature came to us while living in London. While we loved our time abroad, being ambitious people, we found the lack of balance and disconnection from a more natural lifestyle had a tendency to take its toll on our physical and mental health.

For years, we were looking for natural solutions to avoid harsher, chemical-laced pharmaceuticals. When medicinal mushrooms became part of our daily routine, we immediately noticed the effects and took note. These mushrooms are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and beneficial amino acids/proteins, providing numerous health benefits when consumed consistently.

With modern science catching up to what traditional medicine has known for thousands of years, research is not only proving the real health benefits of mushrooms but also discovering that they can be safer, with fewer side effects than many modern pharmaceuticals.

From this point, we knew we wanted a premium and sustainable brand that championed the highest-quality medicinal mushrooms. But it had to go deeper than that. Consumers (me included!) are more discerning than ever, which is why we took our time to build a brand that we loved, is aligned to our values and is considered in all aspects.

You’ve included New Zealand sea kelp as an ingredient, tell us a bit about this…

The kelp we use in our formula is called New Zealand giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera). It grows abundantly in the cool sheltered waters around New Zealand and is one of the fastest-growing organisms on the planet. It’s sustainably harvested within 1m of the sea surface, leaving the bulk of the plant to regrow and remain as shelter for living organisms.

Our kelp is 100 per cent organic, vegan, allergen-free, GMO-free and contains no heavy metals. We chose to use kelp alongside our lion’s mane mushroom as it’s one of the best natural food sources of iodine and contains a high content of vitamins and minerals. Iodine is an essential nutrient clinically proven to protect and maintain healthy cognitive function, regulate energy levels, and facilitate the production of thyroid hormones.

How have you found launching a new business like yours from Christchurch?

To be honest, we didn’t know what to expect. We came back here not fully realising it was a great start-up hub. We’ve been absolutely blown away with the support and the ease of access to incredible talent, and how incredibly kind and open the startup community here is.

Early on, Matt and I were accepted into Te Ōhaka and their Founder Catalyst Incubator Programme, which is funded by the Ministry of Awesome, Ara Institute of Canterbury and ChristchurchNZ. They support early-stage founders in their development and growth.

Since then, we’ve been connected to an amazing community of like-minded people and that has made such a difference. We’ve also been supported by the likes of Wynn Williams and EY, which is invaluable to a new business.

What do you love about living here?

I have lived overseas for the past 10 years so I’ve missed out on a lot of time with family and friends, so that would have to be my favourite part about being back in Christchurch.

After living in London for a while, I’m enjoying the ease of which you can get out in nature. We’re so lucky to have Hagley Park here. I try to get around it a few times a week. Matt and I spend a lot of time in Sumner too, it’s a nice quick escape from the city and the vibe is nice and chill.

Christchurch has so much around it that I try to capitalise on during the weekend. I love driving out to the Waipara valley and visiting the incredible wineries like Greystone or Black Estate. I’m always up for a day trip to Akaroa or a hike around the Port Hills. We recently visited Washpen Falls, which was beautiful.

There is just so much to see and do in the region. I’m looking forward to getting out and doing more exploring now the days are longer and warmer.

Christchurch also has so many amazing new restaurants, bars and cafes that have opened up since I left, which is great to see and experience.

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