Beauty founder Mele Feniu Olivetti had one vision — to honour her heritage by sharing the long-trusted beauty secrets from the island of Tonga. Her proudly Australian made and owned skincare brand, FENIU, does exactly that, taking inspiration from and paying respects to the deep-rooted traditions around using coconut oil in Tongan homes. The brand, which features four signature products that use a range of ingredients derived from the Pacific, bridges the gap between Mele’s own Tongan heritage and Australian home. Now everybody can experience ‘T Beauty’ through her luxe, nourishing offerings. As part of HER BLACK BOOK’s Festival of Her, a shopping event to support female-founded businesses, Mele shares some insight into her business journey so far.
“I created Feniu after years of getting relatives to send over Tongan Coconut Oil that I could use for my own skincare. For centuries Tongan’s have used Coconut Oil on their skin, and this is a tradition that was passed down through my family. However unfortunately I wasn’t able to get my hands on that Tongan Coconut Oil in Australia which is why I knew I needed to create Feniu. When extracted through Feniu’s natural processes, Coconut Oil offers not only one of the world’s most natural and beneficial moisturisers, but its antioxidant properties help with skin conditions ranging from acne to inflammation. Also, as part of my mission to give back to the Tongan community, I engaged with a local Tongan youth organisation. This organisation uses traditional methods to source and produce coconut and sandalwood oil, whilst also prioritising agricultural preservation and water purification efforts. Through our collaborative work with this youth organisation, we have been able to ethically and sustainably source the natural ingredients found in Feniu, whilst helping to provide Tongan youth with consistent employment and independence.”
“Please know that it’s not always as glamorous as it looks! I think if you’re passionate and willing to really put in the hours, you will find success. However, that doesn’t always happen overnight and will likely take a lot of hard work!”
“I'm really proud of flying the flag for Tonga and bringing some of my culture to Australia and the rest of the world. I’m an incredibly proud Tongan woman and every day I feel honoured to be able to bring a little slice of home with me everywhere I go.”
“Running a business can often mean making sacrifices, like being away from family, which is a big one for me. This year I’ve had some incredible opportunities to launch Feniu in other countries which has meant quite a bit of travel. Whilst I feel grateful that I can do that — especially in this climate — I also miss my children a lot.”
“I think I have a lot more work to do to be defined as ‘successful’ but I feel incredibly grateful to often be classified as such. For me, it really is hard work. Sometimes, you just have to keep going, no matter the speed humps, no matter the challenges. I truly believe if you put in the hard work consistently, you will become what other’s define as successful.”