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Tonga’s own skincare range inspired by lolo Tonga (Tongan oil)

Mele Feniu Olivetti, Founder of FENIU. Photo: Supplied
Mele Feniu Olivetti, Founder of FENIU. Photo: Supplied
Ann-Tauilo Motuga | Videographer

FENIU is a rising skincare brand inspired by the old Tongan practice of applying coconut-infused oils as a daily skin moisturiser.

Founded by Australian-born Tongan Mele Feniu Olivetti, FENIU is all about embodying simplicity and the beauties of nature.

“Pasifika cultures live from and respect the land,” Mele says. “It is the inspiration for my brand and product line, and something that I am proud to share as part of my identity, and that of the brand.”

The idea for FENIU stemmed from Mele’s upbringing in her Tongan household.

“I was raised using Tongan oil as a form of nourishment for my skin. I remember the distinct smell and texture of the oil on my skin, and to be honest, I never liked it,” she says.

“It became second nature to use it after showers or prepping my skin for the day. I would find myself taking my mum’s oil from her house to use on myself during my pregnancy and on my kids. I learned to love it and wanted to create my own brand of Tongan oils where I could bring in the oil and make it readily available for people like myself, who value and believe in the properties of our natural organic oil.”

The name FENIU carries Mele’s family heritage, representing her Tongan culture.

Feniu founder Mele with fiancé Opeti Manoa and their kids. Photo: Supplied
Mele with fiancé Opeti Manoa and their kids. Photo: Supplied

“Mele Feniu is a family name that has been in my father’s ha’apai (village) line for generations,” Mele explains.

“The name is significant, as I am named after my father’s sister, and she is named after her father’s sister… The word niu also means coconut in Tongan, so I believed it was a perfect fit.”

Mele boldly launched the brand in August 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“From process to distribution, producing quality will always be at the forefront of what we do… We ethically source our ingredients locally in Australia and import our coconut and plant-based oils from Tonga,” she says.

“Lockdowns have been a challenging part of the year. It has been difficult to source ingredients from Tonga, not being able to travel. I am fortunate to have reliable people in Tonga who are able to do this for me.”

Through the Tongan National Youth Congress programme, FENIU provides consistent employment to a local youth initiative, who in return, is producing the organic infused coconut oils and sandalwood oils.

 

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FENIU is also working with some of the best cosmetic scientists in Australia to ensure that the products are of top quality.

“Everything is organic, from our produce to our skincare,” Mele says.

“We offer a quality product, together with branding and representing rich Pasifika cultural storytelling of our heritage and resources.”

The successful growth of FENIU last year expanded to reach the interests of Tongan princess HRH Angelika Latufuipeka Tukuaho, who offered Mele and her company an opportunity of a lifetime.

“Meeting and having conversations about my FENIU journey with Tonga’s Princess was an honour and definitely a highlight for me and our company,” she says.

Feniu founder Mele with HRH Angelika Latufuipeka Tukuaho. Photo: Supplied
Feniu founder Mele with HRH Angelika Latufuipeka Tukuaho. Photo: Supplied

“HRH expressed her support for FENIU and our mission. She has been wonderful in connecting us to support here with her network and Australia Trade. We have been given the exciting opportunity to showcase our products at World Expo in Dubai, which will be happening in October this year.”

With two new products set to release in September, FENIU will have four skincare products in their range. These include Feniu Tongan Oil and Feniu Moisturising Hydrator, along with Feniu Repairing Eye Serum and Oil-To-Foam Cleanser.

FENIU coconut oil products. Photo: Supplied
FENIU products. Photo: Supplied

“Product development for us is important. We put a lot of time and effort in creating our unique skincare products,” Mele says.

“We are looking forward to seeing our brand displayed and our products sold in Tonga’s beautiful three-story Pavilion… We have seen orders go to places like Malta, Germany, France, Korea, and China. I am truly blessed by everyone’s love and support and look forward to continued work.”

Mele hopes to encourage more people of colour (POC) to be represented within the beauty industry.

“It’s important to me to represent our Pasifika way of life… particularly the Tongan culture,” she says.

FENIU Tongan models. Photo: Supplied
FENIU models. Photo: Supplied

“I would love to see more representation of POC in Australia and in the world within the beauty industry. I plan on being part of that change.”

“I thank everyone that I have crossed paths with who have helped me grow personally and in the business. The support system in my family, friends, and mentors… Managing a home, raising a family [of three kids] and being across businesses can be challenging, but I am blessed with this opportunity, welcome the challenges and look forward to sharing FENIU with the world.”

Check out FENIU’s website here.

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