Interview: Katie Higgins – Santosa founder


Until my first pregnancy several years ago, I’d never really put much thought into all the chemicals and other nasties that can go into our beauty and cleaning products. With all the new research coming out potentially linking these chemicals to health issues later in life, it became a top priority to keep my body and my environment in a ‘clean slate’ state as much as possible for my baby. This became even more important later in my pregnancy when I developed allergies to just about every health, beauty and cleaning product that wasn’t natural (including scented/bleached toilet paper, liners, hand soap, washing powder, body wash….). It made me realise just how harsh these everyday items can be without us realising.

I first came across Santosa cleaning products earlier this year at the yoga studio where I’m doing my advanced yoga teacher’s training, and now that I’m pregnant with my second child I’m being more mindful of my environment again. At home I’ve been using the lavender and grapefruit Good For Anything Spray on the kitchen benches, toddler’s high chair, outdoor barbecue, in the bathroom; it smells absolutely divine and leaves surfaces clean and fresh.


I recently caught up with Katie Higgins, the founder of Santosa, to chat about her business journey and why she is so passionate about the products that she makes.

Ange’s note: Keen to try Santosa in your household? I believe in these products so much that NZ Real Health is now affiliated! Use any link from this page to visit the Santosa website, use the code NZRH and get 10% off your purchase.

How would you describe yourself?

In addition to the founder of Santosa I’m a part-time primary school teacher and mum to a very active little 18-month-old, Cohen. Life’s busy and there’s a lot of juggling going on (as there often is with small businesses) – but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I would describe myself as a multi-tasking queen, upbeat and optimistic, who’s always working on achieving more balance in her life.


How did the idea for Santosa come about?

Santosa was created in response to a frustration with the ‘natural’ products available for our bodies and homes. I saw that the brands I’d loved and trusted were inconsistent with my principles of a healthy lifestyle.

Many of their claims stated that they were eco-friendly but, with their 50+ ingredient list, nowhere did it state that they were ‘human-friendly’. I decided that I wanted to create a range of natural products, that had ‘human’s’ health and wellbeing as the main priority, then of course if the ingredients were safe for us, they had to be good for the planet.

Where did your interest in natural products begin?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in healthy living and natural products. It’s always fascinated me how many chemicals we are exposed to and how so many people are naively unaware of this.

I’ve often tinkered with my own homemade products – be it hair and face masks, body butters, and of course natural cleaning products. If it’s a homemade concoction – I’ve probably made it. My most favourite products (which received the most compliments) were my Foaming Hand Wash and Multi-purpose spray – these formed the starting point for Santosa.

santosa products

Why do you think more people are showing interest in natural products?

Natural products are certainly on the rise in popularity, and a lot more people (mums especially) are showing more interest in this area, which is really exciting. Often the focus has been on purchasing eco-friendly products that benefit the environment, however I think people are certainly becoming more aware and cautious of the ingredients that they put into and onto both their bodies, and their families.

People have more knowledge about the dangers of synthetic chemicals and have a lot more natural options of products to choose from, which is great.

Why is it so important for people to place more focus on self care and look after their body and mind?

Self-care is a huge part of what Santosa stands for. I know how busy life can get, and I wanted to make it easier for people to look after themselves. This is why we decided to add gentle reminders onto our product labels, that support your busy mind. Instead of a logo, the idea was that our inspirational messages would be in everyday sight, serving as little daily reminders.

With our products, simply washing your hands or wiping your kitchen bench can now serve as opportunities to slow down, pause and be present.

What was involved with the startup process (getting it from just being an idea to being a physical product in front of you)?

As with most small businesses, the whole process has been a huge learning curve – which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. I had to make sure I had the right suppliers for my packaging (which because of New Zealand’s small size – included looking off-shore). I then had to source the highest quality ingredients, all from local suppliers. I was lucky enough to have a very creative sister, who helped me to bring my logo design and initial label concept – to life.

I’ve also managed photoshoots, learned a whole heap about label production as well as am learning the ropes with maintaining stockist relationships. A huge help in the early days was getting my name out there through markets – which I love. Interacting and meeting all of the wonderful customers has really made it all worthwhile.  I’ve also enjoyed amazing connecting with so many other small business owners especially within the incredible support groups. In New Zealand we’re so fortunate that everyone looks out for each other and is always happy to help.

What were you doing before Santosa?

Prior to launching Santosa I worked in Marketing – for several small start up businesses. I then retrained as a Holistic Health Coach, and then a Primary School Teacher. You could say that I’ve woven a little bit of each of my old jobs and educations, all into creating Santosa!

You talk about yoga philosophy on your website/being the origin behind the name Santosa. How did you find yoga and how has it influenced your life?

Yoga is a huge part of my life. I’ve been practicing for almost 15 years and absolutely love it. I’ve tried all kinds of styles, however I’m usually drawn to the Yin and slower classes – they are like my therapy!

Yoga grounds me, it slows me down and it reminds me to stay present. Yoga philosophy is also very important to me, and that’s why I decided to name Santosa after one of the Niyamas, in the eight limbs of yoga.

What other products would you like to eventually add to your range?

We’re currently working on a Glass Cleaner, Yoga Mat Spray and Room Spray – which will all be released in the next couple of months – watch this space!

For more information on Santosa or to buy products, visit www.santosa.co.nz.

Use any link from this page to visit the Santosa website, use the code NZRH and get 10% off your purchase.

Image / NZ Real Health

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