I’m really impressed with Margaret Hema’s new rooms at Courtenay Place, Wellington, New Zealand, which one visits strictly by appointment. Hema, whom I first interviewed for Lucire in the mid-2000s, is the renowned æstheticienne and facialist, known not only for her unequalled treatment skills but for a small range of premium organic skin care products that have found favour internationally. Her clientèle remains exclusive and she has the enviable position of indulging her passion for beauty and skin care over a long career.
She has developed her classic range very slowly, increasing her offerings from seven to eight in the last year. The development time for her latest organic day crème was 12 years, as Hema found the right formulation and suppliers—her approach is to find real solutions, rather than be swayed by beauty fads. She was creating organic products decades before they became trendy. Like an Oscar-winning composer, she can walk the street without being recognized except by her fans.
Hema is critical of products which are largely water, since the skin fails to absorb them: a glance down the ingredients’ list of the SPF 12 crème reveals organic avocado oil, borage, olive and flaxseed oils, and organic totarol, among others. The 30 ml in each airtight container contains active ingredients, and the crème itself feels and smells nice.
Hema moved into a salon in 1988 in Brandon Street, but with the building now needed for other purposes, she moved earlier this year into a heritage building on the first floor at 49 Courtenay Place. There are no signs downstairs: discretion remains part of the Hema brand, ensuring its exclusivity. It ties in perfectly with the quality of the products: you truly have to be an initié to know them well.
I had visited her old rooms before and felt that they were part of her identity, too—her clients had become used to taking the lift to the old premises. But the new salon retains the Hema feeling: it is brighter, thanks to more natural sunlight; soothing violin music occasionally comes through from a neighbouring business; and one feels instantly relaxed and at ease inside. The new location feels fresher, more affirming, and lighter, while Hema’s certificates as you enter the salon and the sight of the eight-product range bring instant familiarity and a feeling of an ongoing tradition, that this is a positive step on the Hema journey. It feels like “home” to the Margaret Hema experience; it’s as though she was always meant to be here.—Jack Yan, Publisher