Introducing Lara Henderson, the Founder and CEO of PURE MAMA, a naturally
luxurious skincare range designed to support women throughout pregnancy and beyond. Lara resides in Papamoa, New Zealand, which is about two and a half hours away from Auckland. It is a beachside city where she and her husband live with their two children Harper and Levi.
Before embarking on her entrepreneurial journey with PURE MAMA, Lara accumulated over a decade of experience in the corporate world, specialising in advertising and marketing luxury brands. However, it was during her own pregnancy in 2018 that Lara identified a significant gap in the market, inspiring her to venture into skincare and take the leap to start her own business.

How did the idea for PURE MAMA come about? Was it one of those brilliant lightbulb moments during a 3 a.m. feeding session?

I guess it was a series of light bulb moments for sure. I was pregnant with my first baby in 2018 and started asking around about skincare options to help with my growing belly. The options were dire, and I was left both surprised and frustrated by the lack of pregnancy-specific body products, especially as our skin changes so much during this time and is pushed to its limits. After searching high and low for the right products, I was not only overwhelmed with conflicting information on the safety of ingredients but also shocked by the outdated market landscape that failed to acknowledge the complexity of motherhood, especially regarding the physical and emotional changes women go through. It became really clear to me that design-led, effective, natural products targeting modern mothers did not exist.

After speaking to hundreds of pregnant women and new mothers, it was clear I was not alone. In June of 2021, after two and a half years of extensive research and product development, we launched the brand to the market, selling out in just a few months. PURE MAMA really is my third baby, besides my two actual children. It encompasses a part of my life that was so important to me and that allows me to connect with our customers and community in a very real way. I get to show up as I am, live and breathe a brand I love, and work on creating beautiful, effective products.


Was there a pivotal moment in your journey that empowered you to take the plunge to launch and pursue your business endeavours?

I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and when I was met with a very real problem — a pregnant woman trying to find great body care products but couldn’t — I just refused to let the idea of doing something about it go. I began researching and researching, all over the world, talking to every pregnant woman I knew, and it became so clear to me that there was a very obvious gap in the market. People were continuing to use products like bio-oil because their mothers did (seriously) or their friends had given them an old bottle of something. The brands weren’t memorable, the ingredients weren’t quality, they smelled awful, the packaging was badly designed...the list goes on.

At that point, I hadn’t quite made the leap yet to step back from corporate and had started looking for a new job as I knew I wasn’t going back to my old one, but nothing — not even my once dream job — could excite me as much as this business idea. At this point, I was nearing the end of the fourth trimester and coming out of that newborn haze when a mentor of mine gave me a nudge to just start. That nudge came when I needed it most, and I’ve never looked back.




 Balancing the chaos of motherhood and the demands of running a business can leave anyone feeling overwhelmed. How do you prioritise your commitments and set boundaries?

It’s chaos, alright, but I genuinely feel very fulfilled from both. It’s not often I feel overwhelmed now (not never) just not that often, anymore. I don’t let stressful situations at work bother me like they used to. You realise that curveballs and problem-solving is just part of it. With that said, I am learning to say no a lot more. As the business grows, so do the demands, so I am extra cautious about how I spend my time. I work hard but always have time for the kids and am very flexible in my working hours, which allows me to find balance so I can essentially get the best of both worlds.


How do you believe your experiences as a woman and mother have shaped your approach to leadership and decision-making within your business?

How can it not, in this industry, right? You must have lived it (pregnancy and postpartum) to really understand your audience and your brand purpose. My previous experience, both personal and professional, feeds into everything that we do. My team is also very much in the same boat. We constantly draw on our previous professional experience and then work very collaboratively to make decisions. I also believe being a mother makes you inherently more empathetic towards mothers and parents, in general. So many things change when you have children; it can be really challenging when it comes to time management, especially when dealing with sick children, broken sleep, appointments, etc. I deeply respect that everyone who works for us needs to feel fulfilled both personally and professionally, so the way in which we work needs to be flexible and understanding. In saying that, I have never met such a group of hardworking, committed, intelligent women, and I feel so fortunate that they are deeply committed to our company vision.



In what ways do you advocate for gender equality and support other women in your industry?

I think it’s important to help lift each other up in this industry, especially as women who can support one another to succeed. We are a female-led business, and I am so proud of my team for showing up daily to give their all. Ensuring they have flexibility and support is always at the forefront of my mind. A 9-5 day is very rare in our world. I always try my best to offer support to other female-led businesses, too, especially when they are starting out. I am always happy to share my experience and learnings to help others pave their own way. Now that my children are a bit older, I am slowly building up my network, which is something I had been longing to do for a while. There are so many inspiring women out there who are willing to support one another, and it is incredible to see them lifting each other up.


When it comes to managing the dual responsibilities of motherhood and entrepreneurship, what support systems, resources, or networks have been your saving-grace?  

Honestly, it really is a juggle, but I am finding my rhythm as I go. I know it won’t always be like this, though, so I try not to let the juggle overwhelm me. After my first baby, I found myself worrying a lot more, but since having my second, I have realised that it usually wasn’t worth the worry or subsequent stress. It really does help doing something you love, though. The ‘work’ is very satisfying for me personally, and it fills my cup, so to speak. From a working parent’s point of view, I know that the tired days won’t be forever, and everything is just a phase. It’s easy to catastrophise things, but it is never worth it. All you have is now, and tomorrow is a new day, so take it moment by moment.

Now that we have moved to Papamoa, I have a lot more help too. My parents are just around the corner, and we live within walking distance of the places we visit most (daycare and the supermarket…riveting, I know), so that makes it a lot easier. And I have the most incredible husband who literally moves worlds for me. He has been backing me 100% since I started and helping so much, both in and around the businesses. Not to mention, helping to raise our two children. The business can be quite consuming at times, so having this network around me, especially while we are in growth mode, is critical for the business and me personally.


Being a founder and a mother requires immense strength and resilience. How do you prioritise self-care and well-being while managing the demands of both?

It’s the little things for me. Taking time to do my skincare routine or carving out time in my day to go to the gym. Over the past 5 years, there have been seasons where prioritising self-care wasn’t easy, but now that my kids are getting a bit older, I am getting better at making time for self-care.



Can you highlight a mentor or role model who has inspired you on your journey, and share the impact they& they had on your career?

 My parents are both entrepreneurs, so I guess it was kind of always in my blood. They were role models before I even knew it! They split up when I was around 10 years old, but both went on to start their own businesses. Seeing them work incredibly hard but have flexibility was the norm growing up, so it was something I had always aspired to have in my career, too.


Finally, on International Women's Day, what message would you like to share with women around the world who are pursuing their dreams and breaking barriers in their respective fields?

Keep showing up. Perseverance, persistence, and patience is everything.  


Our Fearless Quickfire

1. Early bird or night owl? Early bird.

2. Wine or Gin? Gin in summer. Wine in winter.

3. Favourite productivity hack? Use digital notes for your to-do list.

4. Best source of motivation? My overactive brain haha. I’m an ideas person so ill always be thinking about the next thing and getting inspiration from everywhere.

5. Are you a planner or Bit of both to be honest.

6. Must-have item in your entrepreneur/mum survival kit? Lululemon tights, phone charger, wet wipes, snacks.

7. One word to describe your parenting style? Relaxed

8. Go-to stress-relief technique? If I am stressed, it’s usually work related, and I tend to lean into it i.e. dive right in to sort it out. I can’t handle sitting on stress so tackle it front on. If I can’t, ill go and exercise.

9.  Favourite podcast or book for inspiration or business insights? Diary of a CEO (DOAC) or how I built this by Guy Raz.

10.  One thing you wish you had more time for? I’m busy but have balance. It’s all about how you choose to spend your time. I would love to make more time to travel as my kids get older, but we can wait a few years. Travelling with toddlers is no joke!

11. One word that describes the intersection of motherhood and entrepreneurship for you? Hard (but totally worth it on all fronts).


March 06, 2024