Jonathan Macdonald and Hayley Tapp are – excuse the pun – making the most of Life. They recently became joint owners of Life Pharmacy Remuera, and aside from dispensing medicine and healthcare advice, they also have big plans for the beauty side of the business.
How did you end up becoming business partners?
Hayley: I have worked with Jonathan for over 10 years. I started off as a shop assistant at his Newmarket pharmacy then progressed up the ranks, eventually going to Uni and getting my Bachelor of Pharmacy. I ended up managing the pharmacy and dispensing, but felt the time had come for a new challenge.
Jonathan: I looked at buying this business 8 years ago when it was for sale, but at the time the numbers weren’t viable. This time round, knowing what Hayley could do, as well as her drive and determination, I knew we could make it work.
Jonathan you’re a Remuera “old boy”. Did this connection have any bearing on your decision to buy a business here?
Jonathan: Well my family have lived in Remuera for close to 100 years … I grew up here, went to school here, met my wife here and am now bringing my children up here. So yes, I’ve always wanted to have a business here as well.
Do you intend for it to become a family business?
Jonathan: Both my father and my grandfather were surgeons, and I guess that has had a bearing on me being in the healthcare business. But I’ve never wanted my kids to feel obliged to do the same, and to be honest the only thing they’re interested in at present is playing sport!
You’ve made some physical changes here already with the shop layout. Do you have any other visions for the business?
Hayley: I’m passionate about staff training, so our Lancome, Elizabeth Arden and Clarins counter managers (one of who is a trained beautician) attend quarterly brand training and weekly in-house training. We want to build on this by stocking more prestige brands, and eventually becoming a “one-stop-shop” that also offers brow, nail and beauty treatments. In fact people might not know this, but we already have a beauty room here where staff give complimentary facials with certain product purchases. We also have free roof-top parking so our customers can relax while they get a treatment.
Have you had much feedback about the changes?
Hayley: Yes, and so far it’s all been positive! We’ve managed to successfully integrate new staff in with some of the existing staff – something that’s not always easy to do when you have loyal, long-time customers. And the comments to date have all been wonderful, with plenty of return business. I think it’s really helped that we’ve opened up the road frontage with windows and doors – people feel more welcome, and we feel more a part of the community.
You do have a huge range of top-end brands and cosmetics. Isn’t this unusual for a pharmacy?
Jonathan: It is. But our range is so extensive because of customer demand - we’re the only business in the area that offers our customers the facility to get all their beauty needs in one place.
What other things do you offer, that locals may not know about?
Hayley: Well our fully qualified pharmacists are able to provide quite comprehensive health advice, and on the floor Sharon has been highly trained in vitamins and natural health. We also do makeup for balls, weddings and other occasions, as well as running special event nights where our customers can mix and mingle, get special loyalty discounts, and learn pro tips about products and their application. And we offer passport and ID photos with a difference … our intelligent software can produce these for any country in the world! The software also vets the photos for correctness, which means there is no need to return for a reshoot, as the software will tell us on the spot if the photo is going to pass muster.
What do you find most rewarding about working in Remuera?
Hayley: Our client base is growing by the day – the Remuera locals really are very loyal, and I love that everyone knows each other … whether it’s here in the shop, or in a café, there is always someone you know and everybody is so friendly!
Life Pharmacy Remuera, 320 Remuera Road
Ph: 09 524 5433
Photography by Vanita Andrews and words by Fiona Wilson