New announcement. Learn more


Anihana: Putting Affordable and Sustainable Soap on the Market

When Sophie Cooper learnt her boss was going to sell a soap factory, the eight-months-pregnant florist went home and talked to her husband about buying it. A few months later, Cooper had given birth to a child, and she and her husband had a brand new business to work from.

Cooper set about making a self care company selling hair and body products. Her goal was to offer goods which were accessible and sustainable for people to enjoy.

“I wanted to create products that were affordable that other people could use to have that ‘me time’ that we need.”

“I know that if you’re shopping with the kids and you’re just trying to get stuff in your trolley and there’s a sea of plastic bottles, having that sustainable option there is really important.”

Cooper is now the founder and “Smile Director” of personal care company Anihana.

Accessibility and growth

Cooper wanted to make Anihana’s products really accessible, and she realised that her parents, grandparents, and herself, had grown up using soap bars. With this in mind, Cooper decided to make these products into bars, manufacturing the first shampoo and conditioner bars to be sold in New Zealand grocery stores.

Anihana was initially branded as Ahhh, but the name was changed around three years ago, matching the middle name of her daughter (who was named after Cooper’s husband’s late mother).

“It’s really special because I was pregnant with her when I started the business, [and] my husband joined the business when we rebranded three years ago, so it kind of connects our journey from seven years ago to now.”

Since the rebrand, Anihana has expanded from being in roughly 300 NZ stores to around 8,500. Cooper now also exports to Australia and the US, with her US exports to Target and Walmart retailers making up more than half of the business’s revenue.

Passion for the work and the team behind it

Even though balancing a baby and a business at the start was very stressful, Cooper enjoys that she gets to do something she likes for a living.

Cooper also loves working with others, and Anihana has allowed her to create new jobs for people she likes working with and learning from. The business has built from 3/4 employees at the start to over twenty at the moment—something else Cooper takes great pride in.

“I’m doing what I love and what I’m good at, so creating lots of fun, new sustainable products—just world domination I guess!”