Eithne Curran, creator of Eithne Curran Black Collection.
Hair and makeup artist Eithne Curran has been working in the beauty industry for over thirty years and recently released her new Eithne Curran Black Collection of natural haircare products. Her philosophy is to make all hair types healthy with products containing a mix of botanical ingredients that are based on scientific principles and Eithne’s experience gleaned through so many years working with hair.
This summer Eithne is also offering a “Party Ready” service at her inner city studio which will include a luxurious hair wash and treatment with Eithne’s all-natural Black Collection, hair styling, makeup application and nail styling. The package will be enhanced with drinks and nibbles from some of your favourite brands to make it a wonderful ladies experience. Eithne’s focus is on enhancing natural beauty and she will be running a beauty workshop series over the summer tailored for women over 40, where she will focus on how to accentuate your best features, find your signature colour palette, and celebrate your individual beauty.
FashioNZ was keen to find out more about Eithne’s approach to haircare, what inspires her and the importance of being ethical in 2016.
Tell us about your Eithne Curran Black haircare range?
The Black Collection is my own range of entirely natural haircare, including a shampoo, conditioner and restore treatment designed to nourish and hydrate absolutely all hair types – whether women’s, men’s, kid’s, oily or dry hair. The range uses a ‘Botanical Cleansing System’ of 20 beautiful, rich pure plant essences including avocado oil and jojoba oil that mimic the skin and hair’s natural essences. It’s also 100% vegan, cruelty-free and free from chemicals such as parabens, SLS, and synthetic dyes, so perfect for those with sensitive skin or who prefer ethically-made, eco-friendly products. I partnered with New Zealand scientist and philanthropist Sir Ray Avery to create the range, as it was important to me that the ingredients were scientifically, yet ethically, researched and proven to do their job. With my experience as a hair and makeup artists and Sir Ray’s scientific insight, we’ve created a product that completely looks after hair without any of the usual nasty ingredients.
What made you get into haircare?
I have worked in the beauty industry for more than 30 years, so have seen a lot of hair! I was inspired to create my own range after finding that I was continually working with hair that was dull and lacked the natural volume and body I needed. Instead of adding product after product on top to solve the problem, I realised that intensely healthy hair needed to start at the basin. I’m definitely a ‘less is more’ person and appreciate simplicity, so truly believe that beautiful hair can be achieved using just one complete, scientifically researched haircare solution, and made it my mission to create it.
Ethical production has become more important to consumers in recent years, what makes it important to you and your business?
I have always been of the belief that animal testing, exploiting nature to create products and using chemical, potentially harmful ingredients in products meant for use on the skin and body is completely unethical. I was brought up with huge respect for nature and this translates through to the products I buy and the life I lead, so it was only natural that my own brand would follow the same ethos.
Over the years, people have been led to believe that natural products almost weren’t ‘enough’ to look after skin and hair, which is completely false. Mass demand and the cost of manufacturing has played a huge part in the lack of ethical production – chemical ingredients are often far cheaper and more easily sourced than natural ingredients, so many brands use them to lessen costs and simplify the production process. I have not followed this trend as I believe consumers need people like me pushing against the giants to maintain ethical practice and consciousness.
Having worked in the beauty business for many years, I knew I wanted to somehow change the process and become a voice for those who believed in ethical production, educate others about the importance of ethical production, and stay true to my own beliefs in the process. I had to import all my raw materials and trace the origin of their production and whether they were made with ethics, which was a huge investment both time-wise and finance-wise – but this is how I believe business today needs to be done.
At times, being a small business working outside the traditional beauty realm has been tough – not only as one woman running an entire brand, but also pushing against old, traditional thinking. I have walked out of meetings and found myself in tears knowing that my products have been developed with ethics, but feeling frustrated that the value was not recognised. Now, consumers are increasingly looking for natural, ethical alternatives and realising that we do not have the right to exploit or abuse nature for our own gain, which is fantastic. It really makes all the effort worth it.
Lily Peacocke (Eithne’s daughter) in the Eithne Curran Black Collection campaign (left) and a corner of Eithne Curran’s Victoria Street studio (right).
What inspires you?
My deepest inspirations have come from nature, culture and my mother. Mum was the most beautiful woman who taught me to always believe in myself. I was the ninth child of nine in a big family, and every Sunday she and our father would drive us up to the west coast to explore the coastline, which was when I fell in love with nature. This has definitely been a factor in the creation of my products; my family and ancestors have always been respectful of nature, and I wanted to stay true to this in my work. The Kelu bird, which is a Tongan long flying sea eagle, features as the logo on my Black Collection packaging and is a real symbol of the elements of where my inspiration comes from, as it reflects my Tongan heritage, nature, and strength, which I feel I have endured during the development of my own brand. I’m also inspired by great figures in art and film – Dahl, Fellini were great influences, and Monet – I love the tones and sea of depth he saw. It’s the little, everyday things that sparks something in the soul, too – as simple as the beauty of a crystal sitting in the light and its spectrums of colour.
Describe your personal style and how it influences your brand?
My personal style is quite varied, but I tend to stick to classic pieces. As a makeup artist, when I’m on location my style is very tomboyish, but I always make sure I have a beautiful fragrance on, Marc Jacob’s Black Orchid is my favourite. I tend to go for a simple, clean black and white palette, which I find a great foundation to add individual, statement pieces to. This is essentially the ethos of my brand – ‘less is more’! I don’t buy lots of pieces, but instead look for a few great quality pieces and really wear them out – better for the planet and the pocket that way.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
That’s a hard question! There have been so many amazing moments – a highlight has to be flying up in a helicopter to the top of Mt Cook to shoot a Japanese airline campaign, which was unbelievable. Working on the side of a glacier and having to be ready to jump into the chopper at any point was pretty crazy, but the shots turned out amazing and it was completely worth it! Doing Annie Lennox’s hair for her tour back in the 1980s is another memorable moment, and was a game-changer for me. I spent hours bleaching and cutting her hair and actually ended up quitting my salon job that day! I realised after my time with her that I had to go freelance to work on exciting, new opportunities – which has eventually led to the creation of my own product. It’s always a pleasure working with our natural New Zealand beauties, too – Maria Tutaia is always a dream to work with.
What can’t you live without?
It sounds typical, but my husband and our gorgeous girls, and a good night’s sleep. I also love goats cheese and a pair of good loud speakers in my lounge! Also, my own product – I use my Black Collection Restore Treatment most days and double the shampoo as a body wash. I don’t use anything else on my hair.
What’s next for you and your brand?
I’m about to launch my very own Hair & Makeup Lab in my Victoria Street studio, which is very exciting and has been a long time in the making! From December, I’ll be offering a ‘party ready’ service including hair wash and treatment, skin prep and treatment, hair and makeup styling, and nail shape and colour – over a glass of bubbles and treats of course!
I’ll also be launching a series of Timeless Beauty workshops from January onwards, which will be designed to help older women embrace and accentuate their natural beauty. My studio will be available for half and full day hire for bridal parties too, and we can cater to whatever you need on the day – hair ups, nails, makeup… taking all the hassle out of rushing around to multiple appointments on your big day.
I’m also focusing on distribution for my Black Collection – the next step is to take it to women all over New Zealand. Essentially, what I want to do through my work is inspire and empower women, so it’s my dream to be able to reach as many as possible. Hopefully next year I’ll be heading overseas for a few exciting endeavours too!