Let’s catch up with HealthPost’s founding family – Abel and Lucy Butler, to celebrate the last 35 years and what’s ahead.
1. HealthPost started in your family home 35 years ago - what were your earliest memories of the business back in the day?
Abel: So many! It was a huge part of our lives, there was Linley’s (mum’s) fabulous ‘team of three’ making coffee in our kitchen each morning, the distinct 'screech' of the packing tape and the daily rhythm of the big build up to the courier leaving with as many parcels as they could possibly pack in time – which continues to this day.
What started off as one room and the cellar grew to encompass the entire bottom story of our house, filled to overflowing with stock, packing desks and equipment – and boxes and boxes of printed catalogues. We’d earn pocket money labelling and popping these into envelopes at the big send out time each year. Mum was very often on the phone to customers, helping them choose the right products – and I’d get to use the early work computers to play games on in the evenings, bliss!
2. HealthPost has been leading with values and raising the bar for decades - what do you think has been essential for this success?
Lucy: I think because we’ve been based in the same small community (Collingwood, Golden Bay) for 35 years, we are naturally connected to the broader impact of any business decisions on our team, our environment, and the wider community. We have very engaged, loyal, and well-informed customers who tell us what works for them, and these customer voices have been a huge part of our evolution. Because we’re clear about what we stand for, many of our team and partner brands are also with us because they share our values, which is a big advantage when it comes to raising the bar. You can’t do it alone. It’s the relationships and collaborations that make it possible to do things better.
3. If you had to pick one, what's been your favourite highlight from over the years?
Abel: There’s been a great many but one that really stands out is launching our first ‘proper ecommerce website’ in 2009. We’d been selling online for years already, but in a really primitive way. It was a great milestone to ‘finally get serious’ and build a website that had all the (then) up-to-the-minute bells and whistles. It was a huge undertaking at the time, but we proved we could do it and this enabled us to reach many more customers - both here in NZ and all around the world.
Also developing our team and all the amazing people we’ve worked with – past and present. It’s super satisfying to see people grow and develop in their roles over time, and we’re blessed to have a number who have been with us for many years. Our team are always learning and willing to take on new challenges with excitement and determination. It’s this attitude and commitment that keeps us going strong – we never stand still and we’re always striving to do more for our customers.
4. If there's one thing you could share with our customers what would you say?
Lucy: I would say a huge thank you to our customers trusting us to support your wellbeing and inspiring us to do things better. Whether we’re sourcing ethical, innovative natural products from small Kiwi businesses, investigating supply chain issues like marine sustainability, or regenerating nature here in Golden Bay – none of this is possible without your support.
5. With an ever-growing natural health range and ever-changing wellness trends, how do you keep up with these and what keeps our vision and mission grounded yet forward thinking?
Lucy: The world (and industry!) of wellness has exploded in the 35 years since HealthPost started. We love that there is always more to learn as natural products, both new and established, keep improving in terms of ethics and efficacy. That said, it can be overwhelming, and not all trends are worth jumping on.
Experienced naturopaths stand behind our rigorous ETHICS check to help us identify the products that genuinely represent better choices (not just more choices!). The evolution of our range is guided by our mindful values: we decline products based on harmful ingredients, excessive packaging, or marketing that over-promises, and we celebrate brands that are truly raising the bar.
Our customers tell us what works for them, what they want more or less of, and we’re proud that our range reflects what our customers care about.
6. Let's look ahead - how would you describe HealthPost's future in three words?
Abel: Innovative, responsible, leadership.
7. And to wrap up, what does wellness mean to you?
Lucy: Wellness is dynamic. While some choices are doubtless healthier than others, I try not to get too fixed in my ideas about what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. For me, just listening to my body and recalibrating day-to-day, working with whatever is available, is the best approach.
When I travel, for example, I miss the fresh greens from my garden, but my mind is being stimulated by new environments, which healthy in another way! Some mornings I need a cold shower and a brisk hill walk while other mornings it feels more nourishing to sit quietly in the sun with a cup of tea. And many mornings are just about doing what needs to be done, which is okay too.
We’re not the same from one day to the next, so staying curious and responsive and doing the best we can on any given day is what wellness means to me.