Moon Haven featured on Nine
This is fantastic article featured on nine msn after their journalists stumbled across moon haven in the village of Cowaramup in the hear of the Margaret River Wine Region.
Here’s what they wrote:
Moon Haven More Than Soap and Bubble
A serious health issue turned adversity into opportunity and in the process became healthier and happier.
In the village of Cowaramup in the heart of WA’s Margaret River wine-growing region, there’s a butter-yellow cottage with a big blue signboard above it bearing a mystical gold script: ‘Handcrafted Soaps, Lotions and Potions’. Closer inspection reveals it to be a shop stocked full of fragrant soaps, natural skincare products and intriguing and original gifts.
Moon-Haven Natural Products was started by Eric and Leonie Gully in 2001, and they opened their shopfront and workroom in Christmas 2002. The business came about because of a serious health issue for one of them.
In 1998, after many years of being unable to pinpoint the source of her debilitating muscle pain and tiredness, Leonie was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia. “I’m a Type A personality and I don’t take these sort of things lying down,” she says firmly, “but this one knocked me for a six. “Western medicine helped, but I started researching alternative therapies on the internet and came across aromatherapy. Based on my research, I made a salve – which we dubbed Achy Breaky Rub – and that really helped my muscle pain.
“That led me on to find other natural things that could help me. I started making soap and skincare products for myself because I was chemically sensitive. I was getting better rapidly and people were remarking on this – and wanting some too!”
That’s when the Gullys thought this could become their business. “To defray some of our costs in making the products, we started going to small, local markets to see if people liked our products and they did, and we just grew from there.”
Six months later, Leonie took redundancy from her job as a hospital administrator so they could fund themselves to see if they could make a business out of making and selling soap and skincare products. But they found that to make the business work, they needed to find some retail space so they could open seven days a week.
That’s when they decided to rent the butter-yellow cottage. Cowaramup was a very quiet hamlet then, and people wondered why they wanted to set up there. But the Gullys could see that it was actually the centre of the Margaret River region – and all cars have to pass through Cowaramup!
Since starting the business, Leonie has become a qualified clinical aromatherapist and Eric has left his corporate engineering position to work full time in the business. She and Eric grow as many of the herbs as they can for use in their products, and all other herbs they use are organically grown.
A business plan has been key to their success. “We take two weeks every year and go off to Bali,” Leonie says, “where we write our entry application for the annual Telstra Small Business Awards. This actually becomes part of our forward plan for the business for the next two years.” Taking time to think strategically about the future direction of Moon Haven must be working since the company has been selected as a state finalist in the awards for the past two years.
They are a good pair for each other, it seems. Leonie has the brainwaves and Eric finds a way to make them work. “He’s a master of all things mathematical and he has a marvellous knack of putting systems in place, giving us valuable detail from the business and allowing us to plan appropriately,” explains Leonie.
Then in 2004 Eric was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and both of them had to take six months off so that Eric could undergo his treatment. “The business ran itself thanks to our staff,” Leonie says.
“Our staff have been incredible. We have a concept at Moon Haven of family: our staff are not employees, they’re family, and because most of our workforce are women with children, we try to build in flexible work hours.”
“We really encourage a sense of fun at work. When we employed our latest staff member, she turned up to her interview in pyjamas because our recruiting question is: ‘Would you be prepared to wear your pyjamas to work?’ That tells me whether they’ve got a sense of fun and adventure. I’d got an idea that she might do this so our retail manager and I turned up to interview her in our pyjamas!”
Up until three months ago, Moon Haven was on internet dial-up connection. Under the federal government’s HiBIS scheme, broadband was introduced to Cowaramup three months ago and it has revolutionised communications in the Gully’s business.
“We can work from home more, and it’s been absolutely fantastic,” says Leonie. “Telstra has been very helpful in getting that happening in regional Australia, but for us the best thing they’ve ever done is to hold the Telstra Small Business Awards. Writing our application to enter the awards is really useful because it makes us think strategically about our business.”
And so how do they think about their business? Leonie is very clear about their philosophy: “We don’t sell soap, we provide an experience!”.