Home / Venture  / International Women’s Day: Celebrating the female entrepreneurs of NZ

International Women’s Day: Celebrating the female entrepreneurs of NZ

The month of March is International Women’s Month with March 8 recognised as International Women’s Day. The United Nations says 2023 will be the year to celebrate the women driving digital innovation and technological advancements.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we chat to the female entrepreneurs behind Mylk Made and Woolchemy, who are pushing innovation and technological advancements across New Zealand. 

Mylk Made

Jemma Turner and Corinne Turner, mother and daughter are the Founders of Mylk Made, an alternative plant-based milk company that creates waste-free bases from nuts and seeds.

Jemma and Corinne say the main mission of Mylk Made is to create an alternative plant-based milk with cleaner ingredients, less waste and “making it better for you and the planet”.

The idea of Mylk Made came to the pair after being inspired by a trip to Indonesia where at a local café the milk that was used was made from a whole nut and seed to make a plant-based milk.

“Returning to New Zealand, and working alongside my mum, we set out to find a way that we could capture the simplicity of these nut ‘mylks’ whilst making a better impact on the planet,” says Jemma.

Over the past five to 10 years, society saw a huge shift towards plant-based milk for health, ethical or sustainability reasons.

“However, there are a number of issues with these milks which Mylk Made was set out to solve,” says Corinne.

“Waste is a huge problem when it comes to plant-based milks as most products come in liquid paper-board which can be difficult to recycle in New Zealand.”

To combat this problem, Mylk Made put their bases in glass jars which are reusable and recyclable, and set up a returns scheme.

Based in Rangiora, Mylk Made uses a slow stone grinding process, keeping the ingredients in their highest quality and “allows for barista grade products to be produced without a heap of added ingredients”.

The mylk bases are made from a range of nuts, seeds and occasional flavouring from kelp salt or natural flavours.

Using their experience from working in the business world, Jemma and Corinne came together as mother and daughter team to create Mylk Made.

Corinne and Jemma Turner.

“There are always challenges in running a business, and as Jemma and I can be quite similar,

we both used to try and take on everything ourselves,” says Corinne.

“Building our team has helped us both take some of that pressure off and spend more time on growing Mylk Made into where it is today.”

Read more: Kiwi businesswoman shine in Forbes 30 under 30

Jemma adds that the entrepreneur scene is heavily male-dominated so working alongside her mother is a “real strength”.

“Growing up, my mum was always a leader in whatever she did, whether it be in her job, or at school on the Board of Trustees. She has always backed me 100 percent and pushed me to follow my passions, which has led us to Mylk Made,” she says.

With the trajectory on the rise for the alternative milk industry in New Zealand, and oat milk sales seeing an increase of 230 percent in the FMCG industry, Mylk Made is working on expanding their stockists.

“We’re proud to have already saved over 110,000 cartons from landfill with Mylk Made, our hope is to help prevent over 500,000 cartons worth of waste in the next two years,” says Jemma.

Currently stocked in a number of Countdown, New World and GoodFor chains, Mylk Made is hoping to expand in all major supermarkets to allow consumers to have access.


Innovation New Zealand sheep wool, Derelee Potroz-Smith has founded Woolchemy a material technology company using the wool into a “base material” for the personal care industry.

Using a sustainable, environmental and ethical process, Woolchemy’s wool is designed by women, for women to create natural-based products that “work for themselves, their families and the environment”.

“Our mission is to create a thriving world where the health and wellbeing of people and the planet come first,” says Potroz-Smith.

Woolchemy was created by Potroz-Smith who grew up in the wool industry with her family being sheep farmers.

“When I had my first child, my mother would come down from the farm and share how the sheep wool industry was declining, the demand was reducing, and it was costing more to shear the sheep, than to sell the wool,” she says.

“At the same time, I was using nappies with my two sons, and was shocked at the

lack of awareness around the impact of disposable nappies on the environment and for comfort of babies.”

Using her engineering background and “intimate knowledge of the health benefits of wool”, Potroz-Smith decided to develop a material that used wool, a material New Zealand is rich with and transformed it into an ultra-absorbent and valuable material.

“I never imagined that I would be called back to use one of the world’s oldest fibres to solve a massive environmental issue,” she says.

Derelee Potroz-Smith.

For regular hygiene products such as nappies, the material is petroleum-based and is equivalent to one cup of crude oil per nappy, adds Potroz-Smith.

Every minute there are around 300,000 disposable nappies entering the landfill globally.

“With two kids in nappies, I had an eco-anxiety attack, and knew there had to be a better way,” she says.

“Consumers demand dependable eco-friendly solutions, and healthcare brands are racing to replace plastic with safe, sustainable materials without compromising performance.”

Creating the business was “never a small task”, with one of the challenges to create Woolchemy was the idea to develop a product from a fibre that has never been used before.

After some trial and error, Woolchemy was able to create patented technology, ‘neweZorb’ and ‘neweFlex’ materials in order to commercialise its offering to meet the global demand for sustainable materials.

Potroz-Smith pursued her career as the sole female engineering student in university to enter the personal care sector which is a surprisingly predominantly male-dominated industry.

“Fortunately, my male counterparts have been my biggest cheerleaders, supporting me to take risks, approach challenges from unique angles, and repeatedly demonstrate my resilience and competence,” she says.

She adds that the future of Woolchemy is bright and “brimming with possibilities” as the company embarks on an “exhilarating phase”.

“Following a recent capital raise of $1.5M, spearheaded by the remarkable women at Even Capital, we are poised to accomplish great feats,” says Potroz-Smith.

“Our goal is to leverage this investment to unveil Woolchemy’s groundbreaking products in their ultimate manifestation, which will be embraced by manufacturers on a global scale and eagerly sought-after by consumers everywhere within the next two years.

Bernadette is a content writer across SCG Business titles. To get in touch with her, email [email protected]

Review overview