Pure And Simple

Sue Mandini (right) displays a framed picture of her original botanical painting that is featured on the packaging of Pure Mana Hawai‘i’s skincare products, which Kolette Stith is holding. KRISTINA ANDERSON PHOTO

Pure Mana Hawai‘i uses local macadamia nuts and other ethically sourced ingredients to create its skincare and spa products.

One day, as Kolette Stith was tending to her family’s organic macadamia nut farm in rural South Kona, she noticed the unusual emollient effects that the pressed macadamia nut oil had on her skin. She began using it regularly on her face, neck and hands.

“People actually noticed and asked me why my skin was looking so amazing,” Stith recalls.

She began researching the properties of pure macadamia nut oil and found that it is full of high-grade nutrients. It also has known antioxidant and anti-aging properties.

“That’s the reason why your skin just drinks it in,” she says.

It led Stith to wonder about the possibility of using the pressed oils to create cosmetic-grade skincare products. She showed the oil to her friend Sue Mandini, an artist and designer, and the two agreed it could be a very viable venture.

Kolette Stith and Sue Mandini are the minds behind Pure Mana Hawai‘i, a macadamia nut oil-based skincare line. PHOTO COURTESY PURE MANA

So, they founded a new partnership and Pure Mana Hawai‘i was born. As co-founders and co-executive directors, their vision was to create a pure, sustainable and organic line of oils that could nourish the skin as well as the soul.

Of course, that was easier said than done. Neither had any experience with research and development, production or distribution in creating a high-quality skincare line.

However, they didn’t let inexperience stop them.

“We just learned it. We are completely self taught,” says Stith. “We’ve done everything ourselves, including the recipes, research, packaging — all of it. It’s taken hundreds, maybe thousands, of hours of research and experimenting and working with the right people, including dermatologists and estheticians.”

They also knew that any new venture would take grueling amounts of time and dedication.

“Blood, sweat and tears are all a part of any new business and have certainly been a part of getting Pure Mana off the ground,” Stith continues.

What kept them going despite plenty of obstacles, though, is that they knew they had something special and were committed to seeing it through and sharing it with others.

As part of the pressing process, macadamia nuts are put into a dehydrator. KRISTINA ANDERSON PHOTO

“No other cosmetic-grade macadamia nut oil existed anywhere in the world that we could find,” says Mandini. “The oil is sought after and scarce because mac nuts are not easy to grow, harvest and process. They are picked up by hand off the ground in hard, rocky soils and are difficult to crack. They are labor intensive.”

Dedicated to keeping all aspects of the production process as natural and pure as possible, Stith and Mandini resolved to make the products without chemicals, toxins or animal testing. They refused to use solvents (such as bleach) to refine and preserve the mac nut oil. Instead, they added organic thyme to settle the products and discovered it gave the oil an amazing 18-month shelf life. As macadamia nut oil tends to go rancid quickly, this was quite the feat.

Mandini says they found high-quality glass bottles from Denmark that helps with stability and preservation of the oil by allowing UV light to react with it in the same way that a UV filter sterilizes water in a catchment tank. Customers are encouraged to return empty bottles to the company, where they are sterilized and reused.

Mandini knew the value of great design and packaging, which led her to create beautiful gift boxes for each of the four main products: Radiant Glow Body Oil, Soul Serum Daily Recharging Serum, Purity Boost 100% Macadamia Nut Oil and Vitality C Eye Renewal Serum.

For each product box, she painted a different botanical image and presented the bottle recessed in the box within a lei.

“This is how gifts are given in Hawai‘i, so we wanted to incorporate that,” Mandini says. “Overall, the design is meant to communicate simplicity and elegance, showcase high-end products properly and assure the user that they are well cared for.”

Ingredients not grown on the 60 acres of coffee and mac nuts that Stith and her husband Jason own and manage are obtained from ethically sourced farms and wildcraft vendors locally and worldwide. These include kukui, rosehip, evening primrose, pumpkin seed, sea buckthorn and tuberose, to name a few.

They’ve also developed a line of professional spa products that include scrubs and facial oils that are in use by high-end spas on O‘ahu and the Big Island.

In January of 2019, they opened a small store in Kealakekua in South Kona, and Pure Mana products began to gain popularity and customers kept returning. In the back of the store, the duo dehydrates and presses the oil. Other operations take place in the lab on the farm.

“I think the secret to our success is in the high integrity and quality of our products, which we stand behind,” says Stith. “It’s perseverance and never compromising on the principles we started Pure Mana with. We know how precious, pure and rare these oils are, so it’s easy to promote products which we are passionate about creating.”

For more information, visit puremanahawaii.com.