Melanie de la Reta lights up when she talks about the 'sisterhood' of women

Having lived most of her life in big cities in Australia after spending her first years of life in Port Villa- Vanuatu, Melanie-Jane, known as Mel, was looking for a change of pace after spending a year volunteering overseas. She felt an affinity with Mount Maunganui the first time she visited.

"I loved that the Mount had a really relaxed vibe, and it felt like a real place with real people. In other places I have lived, that authenticity with people is lacking. But I feel like as soon as you are here, you are meeting 'real' people. It's definitely a different vibe to be living in."

It was also a perfect fit with Mel's business and lifestyle goals. Having worked in the skin industry for years, as a makeup artist and paramedical skin therapist, Mel was developing a new passion for holistic living.

"I was seeking a change from the rat-race of working fulltime. Even though I loved what I did, I'm also passionate about yoga and living a holistic lifestyle.

There's such a sisterhood of women here doing amazing things. We all bounce off each other, and it doesn't feel competitive.

"I did my yoga teaching training, and travelled for a year doing volunteering. I lived in orphanages in Indonesia and volunteered fulltime at a women's rehabilitation centre for sex trafficked women in Cambodia. I taught the women how to make beauty products like masks that they could sell in local markets, as a form of trade they could use to work in a spa instead of having to go back to the sex industry."

With a new perspective on life, Mel decided to set up home in Mount Maunganui, the home town of her partner at the time.

It was the perfect place to launch Beauty Tofu, a high-performance natural skincare range, which came to life after Mel met a local manufacturer who supported her vision. As the name suggests, all products are vegan, raw and cruelty-free.

"There's such a sisterhood of women here doing amazing things. We all bounce off each other, and it doesn't feel competitive. The women here have been so amazing, lending support when I'm having a bad day or struggling with something related to my business.

"There's a different lifestyle here. Friends in big cities are going out for big nights on the town, whereas here my girlfriends and I will go out for a glass of wine, and then go to yoga together in the morning."

While being self-employed is sometimes challenging, Mel loves having balance in her lifestyle, and both Beauty Tofu and Kalon - which means "beauty that is more than skin-deep" - are going from strength to strength. She's been invited to spend three weeks as a guest therapist at the exclusive luxury Amo Spa in Bali, and plans to write a lifestyle coffee table book, Becoming Beauty Tofu.

"I'm living my dream and can't wait to see where it takes me next," she says with a smile.


Our skin is our biggest organ, and you are absorbing this stuff every day. Parabens have the same cell formation as the hormone oestrogen, so you are basically feeding your body oestrogen.