I can't wear moisturisers or sunscreens because my skin reacts to everything. I despaired of my skin and didn't expect to be able to participate in the company trial as my skin had become so sensitised I could hardly wear anything on it. However there was no reaction and there was a definite improvement straight away.”

Our journey so far...

Stepping into a cool blue and white tiled interior of a Berber women’s argan oil co-operative from the hot, dusty, ochre sands of the Moroccan desert roadside in November 2009 marked the beginning of this journey.

At the time, I was just looking for a new skincare regime and like my travelling companions, was curious to hear about this powerful, "secret ingredient" promoted in high-end skincare formulations by global cosmetic giants called argan oil that none of us had never heard of.

Before leaving New Zealand, two things occurred that later turned out to be major milestones. The first was I had decided to set up my own business and leave the corporate communications sector. The second was being advised to stop using the expensive, active, spa skincare range I’d been diligently ladling on my skin for over a year as it was burning my skin. Evidently being “scientifically formulated and clinically tested” wasn’t enough to protect me.

I needed a gentle, effective, botanical, preferably organic, skincare solution asap so was more interested than most that day in learning about what that Berber women’s co-operative was doing and why.

Roughly 20% of the 32m people living in Morocco live below the poverty line. In the north-western desert region where most argan is grown, Berbers numbered among the poorest until Dr Zoubida Charrouf, a female scientist at Mohammed V University in the Moroccan capital of Rabat, set up the first of what are now many Berber women's co-operatives to produce the precious, vitamin-laden oil. She encountered tremendous opposition at first even though Morocco is a relatively liberal Muslim kingdom, but th co-operatives were structured to enable women to earn an income around the needs of their families. Now they produce most of the world’s argan oil. Argan trees that produce oil with the same properties have not been able to be grown anywhere else.

Back then argan oil was virtually unheard of in the western world. That day I learnt that it had been used to great effect by the local Berber tribespeople on their skin and hair for hundreds, if not thousands, of years right through to the present day. I couldn’t help but be impressed by the skin of a lot of the Moroccan women I met who were using argan oil, especially given they were living in desert conditions. What was there not to love?

So I tried a range of the pure oil and creams, knowing that there would likely be quality control issues, but thinking that we could really do with something like this given climate change and NZ’s proximity to the hole in the ozone.

On my return to New Zealand, I researched what was involved in importing cosmetic grade, cold-pressed, virgin, certified organic argan oil into New Zealand and the regulations governing skincare which meant finding the NZ Cosmetics Code.

Chrissy Fletcher outside awe-inspiring Hassan II Mosque on the Casablanca coast

Vede & Crede Skincare founder, Chrissy Fletcher
outside awe-inspiring Hassan II Mosque on the Casablanca coast

Weeks of searching followed, I  contacted everyone from NZ Customs, to scientific research institutes and laboratories to big importers to the Ministry of Health, then the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. No one knew where to find it. Eventually I was really shocked to find it sitting under the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) Hazardous Substances legislation. Why?  Because highly toxic ingredients are sometimes used in cosmetics and skincare, in small amounts.

Finding the code was another big step in many before introducing our first products to market in July 2011. Finding the right laboratories to test cosmetic oils, the right suppliers in Morocco and other countries including NZ plus a gifted cosmetic chemist and French perfumer, formulating the original recipes in the lab, testing them on ourselves, then friends, then others, finding our beautiful glass bottles, the right design agency, printers, good lawyers and accountants. And that was just to get the starting line!

Since then, Vede & Crede Skincare products have gone into high end department stores, spas and beauty clinics and selected pharmacies around New Zealand. We’ve also got a small, but growing presence in Australia.

PO Box 96093 / Balmoral / Auckland 1342 / New Zealand Telephone +64 9 846 0991 Email us