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Our Story

 NELLIE TIER™ is only ten years old but the history of friendship and business partnership shared by co – founders Ann Porter and Sara Sadd spans 30 years. Ann and Sara met in the early 1980’s – they shared a passionate interest in New Zealand art and in 1986 joined forces to open Masterworks Gallery in Auckland, New Zealand.

Over the next 23 years Masterworks grew into the best known and most respected applied arts gallery in the country.  They sold the business in 2009 in order to concentrate on the next chapter of their shared adventure.

Initially a hobby the NELLIE TIER™ part of their story was driven by curiosity, fun and a desire to create safe, natural, fresh, effective and environmentally acceptable skin care alternatives for their own use.  As a business it grew almost accidentally and today enjoys an enthusiastic and loyal clientele from around the world.

Victoria Porter-Andrews, Ann’s daughter, joined the duo as NELLIE TIER™ Sales and Marketing Manager.  Her enthusiasm and expertise has been hugely instrumental in guiding the business’s growth.



Named NELLIE TIER after Ann’s grandmother there are now three generations of her descendants working alongside a talented team in the Auckland workshop.  The names of both women’s mothers, aunts, sisters, daughters, nieces and granddaughters from the background of the label in grateful acknowledgement of past influences and hopes for the future



Ann and Sara, the founders of Nellie Tier


Nellie Tier Liquid Castile Soap and Body Wash

Nellie Tier Liquid Soap and Body Wash occupy the premium place in our wash range. These are pure plant based formulations using only vegetable oils rich in glycerine with no harsh chemicals. Gentle and soothing on skin they have a natural luxurious lather enhanced with our own essential oil perfumes.

In history Castile soap appears to have been brought from Aleppo in the eastern Mediterranean in the 11th century by Crusaders returning to Europe. Spain evolved as a new home where the making process was developed further using olive oil rather than the original bay leaf oil. The chief centre for making became Castile hence the name.

When we looked at developing a premium soap for the Nellie Tier range we drew on this history and formulated using New Zealand’s own olive oil together with a selection of other luxurious oils.


The director Wendy, and one of the founders Sara

The oils are mixed with a mild lye solution to create the soap paste. This is then cooked in a steam jacket for a minimum of four hours to neutralise. From here the paste is diluted to a usable thickness, essential oil perfume is added and the liquid soap now sits (sequesters) for some weeks to mature and clarify. The final step is to check Ph and thickness and make any final adjustment. Your opulent Nellie Tier Liquid Soap is now ready to use: its clear golden colour, rich and unctuous is gentle on skin yet deep cleansing. Both Liquid Soap and Body Wash are very concentrated – a little goes a long way - and super moisturising. The Body Wash is made by the same process as the soap but is enriched even further with the addition of Shea Butter.

So like a good wine or cheese our Liquid Soap and Body Wash need time and care to become a luxurious finished product. Experience the difference !


It is possible that New Zealand's trendiest liquid export right now may not be wine but Manuka Honey - the Rolls Royce of honeys for the health conscious connoisseur.

The history of this unique honey owes everything to the remarkable stewardship and care of Mary Bumby, an English beekeeper, who in 1839 brought two keps (woven baskets) of honeybees on a six month voyage to New Zealand destined to settle with her mission family in the Hokianga in the North Island of New Zealand. This was an extraordinary achievement and Mary was in fact responsible for initiating the thriving honey export business today. Although NZ has its own species of native bees neither is suitable for honey production so it is the western honey bee apis mellifera on which the entire industry is founded. Strong evidence would suggest that the first honey produced here was predominantly from manuka although swarming bees formed new hives in the native bush and no doubt were foraging nectar from many varieties of plants.

Despite this historical significance over the next century honey preferences tended to multiflorals and wildflower alternatives and manuka quietly sat waiting in the wings.

Finally it was in the 1980's that a New Zealand biochemist confirmed the antibacterial properties unique to this honey. (Though its healing properties had been known in traditional Maori medicine.) Derived from NZ native manuka (or tea tree) nectar Dr. Peter Molan identified a high concentration of antibacterial substances that killed antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It was also bacteria resistant making it harder for bacteria to build a tolerance.

Later the UMF factor - Unique Manuka Factor - was developed as a trademark that now appears on many manuka honey labels and indicates the strength of this effect. Medical grade, used for topical support for chronic wounds such as leg ulcers will carry a 10+ (certified UMF) or higher. The higher the grading the more costly the honey.

For skin care the antibacterial effect doesn't need to be so intense but the antimicrobial activity helps all tissue healing and reduction of scarring. Anti inflammatory and anti oxidant benefits come from methylgloxal a reduced derivative of pyruvic acid identified in this honey as assisting in the reduction of wrinkles and stimulation of collagen.

At Nellie Tier we use manuka honey from the Bay of Plenty as a staple ingredient in a high proportion of our body and face products. We believe that this health giving ingredient brings far reaching benefits and a stamp of luxury to our natural skincare ranges.