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A conversation with Julia Matthews of Two Islands success

Behind the popular health supplement company Two Islands is Founder Julia Matthews, who sits down with Idealog to talk about how 2023 panned out for her.

The success and popularity of Two Islands can be attributed to Matthews’ drive to make a health supplement company powered by science and nature, and 2023 proved to be a great year for her and the company.

If you were to describe how 2023 was for you in a couple of sentences, how would you describe it?

This year has been a whirlwind of challenges and adjustments in the midst of economic uncertainties. Navigating the current climate meant re-evaluating priorities, focusing on our core range and intensifying efforts for every dollar.

Two Islands has quickly become a beloved brand, but as more and more brands come out and focus on health, how do you continue to innovate and distinguish your brand from others?

At Two Islands, our commitment to innovation and distinction lies in an unwavering focus on our customers. In a landscape where health brands are burgeoning, we remain steadfast in our commitment to putting our customers first. From the outset, our mission has been to empower consumers to take control of their health by simplifying wellness and helping them navigate the complexities of the wellness category.

At our core, we prioritise the wellbeing of our customers, ensuring our products contain only the most efficacious, high-quality ingredients without compromise. We understand what it’s like, juggling modern life with maintaining health and wellness, so we prioritise what genuinely benefits us and, by extension, our customers.

Our consumer-centric approach involves being our own guinea pigs – we create products we would willingly embrace ourselves. Customer feedback is not just valued; it’s integral to our innovation process, helping us understand their needs and exceed their expectations.

While the market evolves, our focus remains on delivering a distinctive experience, driven by our unwavering commitment to our customers and our high standards, ensuring Two Islands stands out in a crowded wellness landscape.

As we move forward, our guiding principles remain unchanged — prioritising our customers,

upholding exceptional standards and staying true to the trust our customers have placed in Two Islands.

Read more: Realising New Zealand’s innovation potential

From when you first started as an entrepreneur to now, what are some of the things that have changed but also stayed the same?

Reflecting on 2023, it’s been a year of unique challenges and remarkable highlights. The economic landscape has posed pressures for all businesses, managing increased costs in a soft market and navigating the delicate balance of sustaining high standards while upholding cashflow.

Yet, amidst these challenges, I’ve found a profound sense of camaraderie with fellow small business owners. The unity within our community, the willingness to support one another, and the invaluable connections formed have been a true highlight. We’ve forged incredible connections and partnerships with inspiring small businesses, each navigating their unique

journeys in this challenging market. Collaborating and learning from these passionate entrepreneurs has not only expanded our network but also reaffirmed the strength and resilience within the small business community. It’s a testament to the power of collaboration and shared goals, and I’m grateful to be part of such an amazing community.

Looking back at your years as an entrepreneur, what advice do you wish you had when you first started?

Reflecting on my journey as an entrepreneur, a pivotal piece of advice I wish I had received at the outset is the critical importance of assembling the right shareholders and directors to form a robust and strategic team. It goes beyond merely staffing roles; it’s about curating a group of individuals who not only share the vision but also bring unique skills, insights, and connections to the table. In the early stages of my entrepreneurial endeavour, I may

have underestimated the profound impact that a well-aligned team of shareholders and directors can have on the trajectory of a brand.

The right individuals not only contribute to the business with their expertise but also serve

as a collective brain trust, guiding the company through the complexities of growth and evolution. Strategic shareholders can bring more than just capital; they can offer industry-specific knowledge, valuable networks, and a long-term commitment to the success of the venture. Collaborating with directors who not only understand the business landscape, but also align with the core values and goals of the company, creates a foundation for sustainable growth.

In hindsight, I’ve come to appreciate the significance of thorough due diligence in selecting

shareholders and directors. It’s not just about their financial contributions but also about their alignment with the brand’s mission, their track record in similar industries, and their ability to provide strategic counsel. Establishing clear expectations and a shared vision from the beginning is crucial for long-term success.

Furthermore, fostering a culture of open communication and transparency within the leadership team is essential. Having candid discussions about goals, challenges, and potential roadblocks enables a more agile and responsive approach to the ever-changing business landscape. Additionally, seeking out mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs who have navigated similar challenges is immensely beneficial. Learning from their successes and failures can provide valuable insights and shortcuts, potentially saving precious time and resources. Embracing mentorship and continuously seeking knowledge from those who have walked a similar path can be a powerful catalyst for entrepreneurial growth and achievement.      

As we head into the new year, what are some of your entrepreneurial new year’s resolutions and is there something you are hoping to work on in 2024?

My focus for 2024 is centred on expanding Two Islands into Australia and exploring additional export markets. We are eager to share the benefits of Two Islands with a wider audience and connect with communities around the world.

On a personal note, my resolutions align with achieving a healthier work-life balance (more life, less sending emails at 1am). This includes prioritising regular exercise to enhance overall well-being, practicing the art of saying ‘no’ strategically to maintain focus, and dedicating more time to meaningful connections with individuals whose values closely align with mine.

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

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