A conversion with the founder of Tronque - Tanne Snowden

Reading Time: 9 Minutes

Tronque - remember the name. This Kiwi female founded skincare brand is taking the world by storm. Becoming the first New Zealand skincare brand to be stocked in department store heavyweights Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. We chat to founder of Tronque; Tanne Snowden about the catalyst for starting her own skincare brand and what it is like to run her own business.

Could you tell us a little bit about the origin story of Tronque?

After my second surgery for endometriosis, I started researching what else impacts this disease, aside from genetic causes. I learnt about endocrine disruptors and their impacts on human health.

I was also left with five significant scars on my pelvis and after trying everything available on the market targeted at removing scars, I quickly came to the conclusion that these weren’t changing the appearance and discoloration of my scars and most of the products I was using were full of endocrine disruptors, synthetic dyes or silicones.

This led to me recreating my beauty routine and how I cared for my health. I began formulating and experimenting in my kitchen while recovering, to develop a clean alternative to erase scars; a formulation that soon erased them completely. 

The positive results with my own scars was the original catalyst for the creation of Tronque. My intent from the beginning has been to share what I’ve learnt and help others heal.

What is an endocrine disruptor and why is it so harmful for women? 

Endocrine disruptors can have a deeply negative impact on our health, quality of life, and overall, well-being and are commonly found in our beauty and personal care products.

Endocrine disruptors can interfere with the production, release, metabolism and elimination of normal functioning hormones or they can bind to receptors and mimic hormones already within the endocrine system.

They can also mimic androgenic (male sex hormone) and estrogenic (female sex hormone) functions. Often referred to as xenoestrogens (environmental chemicals with estrogenic activity), these receptors can bind to estrogen and promote estrogen-responsive genes.

There have been many studies conducted on the effects of these endocrine disrupting compounds, ranging from parabens (synthetic preservative) being found in breast cancer tissue, to thyroid dysfunction and reproductive issues. Potentially very nasty and dangerous stuff!

What’s one of your favourite Tronque products?

I do have a weakness for our Firming Butter. I have typically dry skin, and this is deeply nourishing and repairing. The combination of actives delivers long-lasting hydration and nutrients to the skin.

Can you take us through your skincare routine?

I’m tempted to try everything! However, I have to keep my skincare simple, as I often break out if I try too many new things.

I’m currently using Youth to the People Superfood Cleanser from Sephora, which is effective, without stripping the skin.

I’ve been trying Tammy Fender’s Antioxidant Creme from Mecca, which has been helping to nourish my dry skin.

I love ingestible beauty too and Two Island’s Skin Hydration Elixir is a great new addition.

I use the Scar Concentrate as my nightly face oil. It’s packed full of Vitamin C, Vitamin A and plant stem cells. We’re currently updating the formula to be even better, and my skin has been loving the samples.

I then take a skincare approach to the body. This does require more time but is completely worth it. The change in my skin is noticeable. I used a scoop of the Firming Butter mixed with a couple drops of the Vitamin C Body Oil for the day.

At Night, I used the Exfoliating Refining Serum on my arms to keep my keratosis pilaris at bay and then a layer of the Firming Butter. My skin is beyond soft, and the repair has been dramatic.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

I typically wake up and check emails that have come in overnight from the US. My day then usually consists of meetings, emails, planning and development. There are definitely not enough hours in the day to get through everything at the moment! Sampling in our laboratory and seeing our products come to life is very rewarding.

Tronque only uses natural ingredients for your products, what work and research goes into selecting ingredients that are natural but are also effective?

Most of our time is spent on research and development. We start with what problem we want to solve first and then research what ingredients are involved to solve the problem. We research the best, most effective, highly researched ingredients with clinical data available. We often ask ourselves, why has no one used these ingredients in body products before? Our research takes months, before we even get to the sampling stage.

Once we have developed a formula on paper, we take this to the lab and start to explore a tangible formulation. This in itself takes months and endless samples to find the perfect solution. We continuously tweak texture, scent, how it feels on the skin and does it play well with other products.

After we have found our formula, we then start clinical trials to confirm all the active ingredients. It takes years to bring a highly effective, different product to market, but we wouldn’t have it any other way, as we want to bring products that haven’t been available before to market.

Tronque has achieved great success and with the introduction to the US luxury department store market, being New Zealand’s first beauty brand to be stocked in Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus – congratulations! - have you noticed anything different about the US market and American consumers, compared with New Zealanders?

Honestly, it’s too early to tell with not enough data. Our order sizes are larger, due to a greater population of customers. We see the potential to scale; however, this will take a few months to tell.

Looking ahead at 2023, what are your focuses for your brand and business?

We’re looking to grow the business internationally. We have been very fortunate to partner with such wonderful stores internationally, so early on in our business. Nurturing those relationships and growing with the stores is our main focus. We have some exciting announcements and launches this year, which we can’t wait to talk about just yet.

What has been the biggest hurdle in launching or running your business? 

Packaging! It’s all a work in progress.

Supply chain issues have taken a toll on all goods-based businesses. Lead times are lengthy, unreliable, and expensive. I really enjoy the research and scientific side. I thrive when we discover a new ingredient that has just launched or has clinical data that outperforms other actives by 90%+. Producing a product that has given a customer result they have been looking for, is all worth it.

As a female entrepreneur, what is your number one tip to someone wanting to start a business in NZ?

To start somewhere. Begin researching to see if there is a need, can I do something differently or how can I make a change? If you can answer these questions decisively, then start somewhere, anywhere. The first step is usually the toughest as you’re stepping into the abyss.

Tronque products are changing lives, minimizing scars, restoring confidence, celebrating the female body but also aiding awareness in ingredients, and encouraging women to understand what exactly they are putting on their body. What has been the most eye-opening moment of your journey so far?

Thank you so much. Receiving feedback, stories and before and after images from our community has been the most rewarding and eye-opening part of the journey.

Hearing vulnerable stories from our customers where we have helped to restore their self-esteem and confidence is the reason why we launched Tronque.

What are the most common concerns you are seeing come through from New Zealanders? 

Sun damage! We have extremely harsh sun in New Zealand and the effects on our skin is wildly eye-opening. Sunburn and UV damage can take its toll on the skin in so many ways and our customers are trying to reverse this. It is possible with our Firming Butter and Vitamin C Body Oil. Both products contain clinically proven ingredients that repair UV damage.

We often don’t bat an eyelid at 20-step skincare routines for our faces, but there doesn’t seem to be the same self-love movement for the rest of our body. Do you think we look after our body as much as we do our face? How can we easily make a step towards changing this? 

We definitely don’t give as much love to the skin of our body, as we do our face. Starting with one product will lead to a diligent routine. The skin of our body often has more issues than the skin of our face, yet we regularly resort to hiding them with clothing, rather than fixing them. Physical touch is so healing and allowing yourself time to self-care and repair is very beneficial in so many ways.

If someone was wanting to try Tronque for the first time, what would be a good introductory product?

Our Firming Butter or Vitamin C Body Oil are an efficient starting point.

These products are your typical body care staples, elevated, with supercharged powerful active ingredients, that work to make a difference to the skin.

Firming Butter is a soufflé of velvety repairing butters combined with active biotech ceramides, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, Atlantic Ocean Kelp, New Zealand Red Seaweed and Red Maple Bark to protect and restore.

Vitamin C Body Oil is far from your typical body oil with patented ceramides, biotech lipids, Vitamins A and C and nutrient rich Vitamins and Minerals.

Tronque is available to shop in Newmarket at Simon James and Smith & Caughey's .