Outdoor guide turned entrepreneur Becky Cashman talks to Rahul Bhattarai about her company, Goodbye, which sells outdoor skincare products.

What does your business do?

We sell and produce certified natural, water-free products that take care of people’s skin when they are outdoors.

Our hero product is Goodbye Sandfly, and it accounts for 14 per cent of total personal repellent product sales in NZ supermarkets. It currently retails online for $28.

What was the motivation for starting it?

The beginning was innocent enough. I was guiding on the Dart River watching guests being quite stressed by sandflies. What we had to offer was full of chemicals, and that didn’t sit right with me. I’d learned about essential oils in massage training and was already making bespoke blends for my clients. I turned my training to making a repellent and we tested different formulations with our guests over the summer. Our sunscreen has a similar story, I could not find a sunscreen that made sense, so spent six years developing our own.

What’s your background?

I was born in America, and after gaining a mathematics degree, I travelled extensively, meeting my Kiwi husband, John Sanderson, in Nepal. We settled in Aotearoa together in 1998, married in 1999, and I became a proud Kiwi. We lived in Queenstown as guides. I co-founded what was, at the time, one of the largest massage clinics in New Zealand. Our children are now 14 and 17 years old, mothering has defined me as much as any other role or adventure I’ve done.

How big is the team today?

Our core team is four people. We’ve got years under our belts working together, and that makes us strong and efficient. Being selected as a SheEO Venture in 2020 was a game-changer, providing us with a network of wāhine who supported us by becoming customers but also sharing their expertise, knowledge and connection – it was as if our team grew overnight. We were also granted a five-year interest-free loan which enabled us to transition to a new online shop and complete our sustainable sunscreen.

How was your business affected by Covid-19?

The sales of our repellents depend on people going outdoors. Because the entire country was on lockdown, with no outdoor adventures allowed, that’s when we felt the burn when it came to the sales of our products.

What is the most difficult thing about starting a business, especially during a lockdown?

Developing our new sustainable sunscreen kits started pre-Covid, but took 24 months instead of 12. Covid-19 results in delays and weird hooks you never see coming. On the upside, we’ve produced better sustainability packaging for our sunscreen.

How long has your business been around?

I launched as a sole trader in 1999. But in 2009 we officially registered as a company. That’s when our product was accepted into the big supermarket chains like Foodstuffs Groups and Countdown. We’re also available at Health Post, Supie, many businesses across the country, and online.

What are your long-term plans, and where do you see the brand in five years?

Our long-term plan is to add value to our business and to expand it overseas.

I’ve been leading this business for 23 years, creating great natural products that work. In 2014, we began to work with One Percent for the Planet, since 2017 we’ve certified all our products as natural under NATRUE and we’re becoming B Corp certified. With these commitments, we are wrapping our business and products with protection so that Goodbye’s future will always be values-based, regardless of whether I’m leading it as we expand over the next five years.

How does your business stand out in comparison to other businesses in the market?

In supermarkets, we sit with multinationals that are encouraged to aggressively fund their space on supermarket shelves. It’s an improbable proposition being a small Kiwi business in this channel. We stand out because our message is bigger than our products – we belong outdoors, we talk about this all the time. We do business by relationships, steadily over time, one customer transaction, one supplier conversation, one blog post at a time. People trust us.

How are you marketing it?

I’ve been writing on behalf of the business since 2009. Our stable platform of 12,000 subscribers appreciates my messages as much as the products themselves. Our followers are involved with product development, we get involved with outdoor events, sailing regattas, and have been a sponsor for the Spirited Women’s Adventure Race since they started. Goodbye wants to be easy to find, but not aggressive.

What does the competition look like in this market?

They’re well-established legacy players with little innovation in bug repellent, lip care and sunscreen in a long time. This is our unique opportunity, we’re big enough to get involved with product development and small enough to play at the front edge of innovation.

What advice would you give to people trying to start a new business?

Talk to 20 people who have done something epic in business. No one person will have all the answers, but you’ll morph one nugget with another and you’ll know exactly what you need to do to get started.

Keep asking questions, keep creating, keep learning, keep showing up with your greatest heart. You will be successful, not probably in the way you might be dreaming now, but in ways you can’t even imagine. And it’s worth it, completely and absolutely worth it.

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