Success Stories 9 Nov 2018
For many people, the 1980s was a historical decade – Princes Charles married Lady Diana Spencer, the Berlin Wall came down and the internet was still in its infancy. But for Eithne Curran, the decade was all about the hair. It was the key fashion statement and hair stylists were rock stars.
At the Tonga National Day celebration hosted by the New Zealand Tonga Business Council (NZTBC) at the beginning of November, Eithne reflected on her life experiences and how being ‘different’ was the catalyst in forging a career filled with creativity.
Of Irish and Tongan heritage, Eithne is one of nine children and grew up in the Central Auckland suburbs of Mt Albert and Grey Lynn. Although she identifies as mixed-race, Eithne says her upbringing was very much Tongan, crediting her mother and grandmother.
“I grew up in a Tongan household, surrounded by the Tongan language, so my English wasn’t that great,” she recalls.
“My mother strongly believed in educating women and for them to take on opportunities and move on forward. She worked hard for Pacific women and was a founding member of a long-standing organisation known as PACIFICA Inc, alongside Paddy (Eleitino) Walker.”
As a young child coming to terms with her condition of being dyslexic, Eithne says that rather than hindering her, it unlocked her creative streak.
“I always viewed challenges in life as an opportunity to create positive outcomes,” she says.
“My story of dyslexia puts me in a world of creativity, which has no boundaries.”
Eithne soon found herself travelling, working as a hair and makeup artist in films and TV commercials in a time where New Zealand’s creative industries were starting to take form.
“The 80s was a significant time for New Zealand as we were developing the advertising industry, the film industry and models of ‘colour’ were rare.”
While working on film and TV commercial sets, Eithne noticed that her clients’ hair would often be limp. This led her on an entrepreneurial journey where she would eventually create the Eithne Curran beauty range.
It has taken many years for Eithne to research and refine her products, but she says she draws inspiration from her three daughters who are the faces of her brand, as well as the support of scientist Sir Ray Avery, who helped Eithne ensure that her hair products were natural and ethical as possible.
“Creating my holistic products started 18 years ago, so today I feel a deep sense gratitude and grace.”
When it comes to facing challenges in business, Eithne says she has learnt to ‘fly’ through them rather than trying to avoid them.
“When you’re on the edge, you just fly … I didn’t want to talk about the obstacles in business, but rather what you do in the face of it. Which is why I use the Tongan sea eagle as my brand’s emblem”