The idea for OtherNature came to Hope Williams and her husband and business partner, Matt Leadbeater, when the pair were living in London. Being ambitious people both working in the advertising industry at the time, their professional lives necessarily left them feeling out of balance, and disconnected from the more natural lifestyle they’d lived at home in New Zealand.
“It was taking its toll on their physical and mental health, and we saw it in our friends too,” says Hope. “Imbalance isn’t something you notice immediately. It slowly chips away until you’re suddenly highly stressed, burnt out, and have a strange sensation of not feeling sick, yet not feeling well.”
For a number of years, Hope says she and Matt searched for natural solutions to avoid harsher, chemical-laced pharmaceuticals. “When medicinal mushrooms became part of our daily routine, we immediately noticed the effects and the cogs started turning.”
A few years on, says Hope, and modern science is catching up to what traditional medicine has known for thousands of years, with research not only proving the real health benefits of mushrooms but also that they can be safer, with fewer side effects than many modern pharmaceuticals.
And she and Matt would know. In just two years, the pair has grown their medicinal mushroom start-up OtherNature from an idea, to the ultra-chic, sustainably packaged, refillable jars of high-performing capsules that have just launched in New Zealand this week. Clean, potent, and proven, Hope explains that OtherNature supplements are USDA & EU certified organic, containing 100% fruiting body with 30% beta-glucans “making our extracts some of the purest and most potent on the market”.
“And although medicinal mushrooms are the hero of OtherNature, their benefits can be amplified with other nutraceutical ingredients that work together synergistically. Our proprietary formulations are crafted by our team of naturopaths, mycologists, and industry experts with ingredients that are supported by scientific evidence, using the clinically correct levels of Bio-actives.”
As the pandemic raged around the world and the already oversaturated wellness industry ballooned, Hope says she and Matt were extremely mindful of introducing yet another ‘wellness’ product to market. But this became less of a challenge and instead a driver for them to create a product that wasn’t like the others, and that could effect positive change in multiple ways.
“Consumers in this space – ourselves included – are more discerning now than ever,” says Hope. “That’s why we took our time to build a brand that we loved, that is aligned to our values and is considered in all of its aspects. To start, we knew we wanted a premium and sustainable brand that championed the highest-quality medicinal mushrooms. We’ve been using them for years and are such big believers in their potential. But it had to go deeper than that.”
What Hope and Matt ultimately came up with was a brand philosophy that saw mushrooms as the catalyst for change, alongside a focus on beautiful design and a holistic approach to business which has seen them lead with science, transparency, and sustainability, including operating as a carbon-neutral business, partnering with 1% For the Planet, and working towards a B Corporation status.
“This philosophy has also informed our product pipeline of providing solutions that help people find balance in the modern world. The end result that we’re working towards is a lifestyle brand that ultimately goes beyond the product and serves a higher-level purpose.”
As for what it’s like to see their first product finally on shelves?
“It’s both very daunting and incredibly exciting. Matt and I have no kids, so we joke that OtherNature is our firstborn. We’ve really poured our hearts into this business, it’s a space we both really care about and we’re so excited that we are able to facilitate positive change. To see people use our product and feel the results makes us so happy!”
First thing in the morning…
I check my emails, then get up and go for a run or walk around the park with Mum. Home for a shower, quick skincare routine, dress then I’m out the door and off to our workspace. Matt makes us a coffee to have while we prep for the day ahead and I (naturally) take two of our Focus Elementals capsules to get myself in the zone for the day ahead.
Vics on Victoria Street is my local cafe whenever I’m home…
It’s a bit of a Christchurch institution. They make amazing coffee, and their fresh bread is incredible. I’m an oat latte girl.
The last big ticket item I bought was..
A pair of Proenza Schouler Lug Sole Chelsea Boots before moving home. I’m obsessed with contrast stitching and knew a good pair of boots would serve me well in New Zealand’s unpredictable weather (and they definitely have).
Heels or flats? This depends on the city I’m in and the walking involved.
I often live in boots, sneakers or sandals. Saying that, a classic pair of white heels are on my list for this summer… I have my eye on these Nelson Made Juliette midi heels. Generally, I’m into very neutral tones, but I will be adding some colour to my wardrobe this summer. I’m loving all the marigold pieces coming out from designers like Wynn Hamlyn.
The last thing I searched on Google was…
Directions to Washpen Falls. I’m trying to get out on the weekends and explore more of New Zealand with Matt. I’ve been told it’s a beautiful walk just out of Christchurch.
My favourite type of workouts are classes…
I love HIIT, spin, and pilates. To unwind, I run or go for a long walk while listening to a podcast.
The last book I read was…
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. It’s a coming-of-age novel set in Minnesota during the great depression. It follows four orphans who escape from the Lincoln School, a place where hundreds of Native American children are sent to be educated after being forcibly separated from their parents. It’s one of those novels that completely transports you into their world and the American countryside. It’s so heart-warming – I would highly recommend it.
On my reading list for summer are…
- Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn
- To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara
A piece of business advice I received very early on was…
“Get a co-founder”. It’s echoed a lot throughout the start-up community. And as much as I believe in independence, especially as a woman, I know we’ve achieved so much more as a team.
The best piece of life advice I’ve ever received is…
“If it’s not going to matter in five years, don’t spend more than five minutes being upset by it.”
There are a couple of podcasts I’d recommend for a long drive/flight…
‘The Huberman Lab’ is super educational but easy to digest. ‘How to Fail’ by Elizabeth Day is great for life and business advice. ‘Table Manners’ by Jessie Ware always has me laughing.
If I could have lunch with one business person/entrepreneur…
It would definitely be Jessica McCormack. A Christchurch woman who has built an incredible international brand with her flagship store in Mayfair, London(!) she’s insanely creative, balances family, an international lifestyle and has grown her business organically through impeccable design and quality to include massive names like Kate Moss and Rihanna. I have endless questions for her.
I’m quite into making…
Salmon poke bowls at the moment. Very quick, fresh and healthy. So that would be my favourite weeknight meal to cook. We don’t really order in on weeknights – Matt is an amazing cook, I’m so lucky! But if I was going to it would be Thai or Japanese food.
To set myself up for a good sleep…
I try – try being the operative word – to disconnect from technology an hour before bed. Shower, skincare routine, and then read my Kindle for about 30 minutes each night before lights out. I’ve also been getting back into meditation in the evenings, which has been great!