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Published in DomPost, The Southland Times and on Sept, 2015

Wellington partners launch pet anti-itch cream

Heather Murphy and Ana Tomari, manufacturers of Eezapet, walking with Bhindi and Coco.

Does every time your dog or cat itch, it ends up scratching itself - and perhaps doing some damage?

Wellington business partners Ana Tomari and Heather Murphy have created an anti-itch, anti-allergy barrier cream to deal with the problem.

"Every pet should have access to natural health where possible," Tomari said.

Using a base of beeswax, the cream includes six herbs but no preservatives or steroids and can be applied directly to broken skin.

Since launching Eezapet in 2014, they have managed to secure orders from 54 stockists from Auckland to Invercargill, and run a business that supports the two. At present it is in start up stage, with seeding money from Creative IQ under its global growth programme.

Neither comes from a pharmaceutical background; Tomari was an English language teacher in Japan for 12 years before returning to New Zealand with her Japanese chef husband, while Murphy worked as an investment banker in London, then made the decision to work at the SPCA as a dog handler.

They have in common a love of pets, but also complementary skills. Tomari has formulated the business plan while Murphy works on the financials.

The genesis of the cream was the eczema suffered by Tomari's daughter. In 2006 she created something "which worked wonders" and soon found herself inundated with requests for it from family and friends.

"In 2011 I decided that if there was a market need for the cream I should share the joy," Tomari said.

She underwent a Grow Wellington activate course and in 2012 set up a company Soothfast Skincare, taking on Murphy as her business partner.

Because Murphy's dog Coco was having problems with itchy skin, the pair decided to develop a cream for animals.

Since then they have discovered that the greatest demand (85 per cent) is for the animal cream, forcing them to re-focus the company towards developing products for the pet market.

Manufactured in Auckland, the cream was tested on humans first. The manufacturer has the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) stamp of approval.

No clinical trials have been carried out although they intend to do so.

Retailers carrying the cream are pet stores, "doggy daycare" centres and the SPCA.

Veterinarians tend to have strong ties to pharmaceutical companies and have not been strong customers yet.

The partners launched an website in July, with plans to sell online within Australasia. They are also looking further afield and investigating markets in the United States and the United Kingdom.

At $26 a container the cream is not cheap, but customers - or at least retailers - appear to be pleased with it because 79 per cent who are contacted end up stocking it.