• Max Lawton (AIMES Emerging Talent Award)

Max Lawton, Entrepreneur (18)

AIMES Emerging Talent Award 2018 (Innovation)

Max Lawton is currently in his last year at Rangitoto College. His journey creating a natural skincare range over the past two years is a truly heartwarming one, with innovation certainly a key ingredient.

"I myself have suffered countless agonising years with acne since 2013 at 13 years old,” explained Max in his AIMES Awards application. "I had tried everything, ranging from expensive and ineffective products on the market, to resorting to using and taking Accutane, a pharmaceutical drug that requires blood tests every 1-3 months and has hundreds of negative side effects such as depression, anxiety and more. I had never felt more helpless with nothing but ineffective pre-existing products on the market until the creation of our Clearfree products, combining both science and nature to produce a range of innovative healthcare products.
Over the past two years Max has created (along with two others) this new and natural product that within the healthcare business is affordable, and easily applied, providing teenagers with a great spray for their skincare regimen. Clearfree is a healthcare business that sells natural skincare products online at
www.clearfree.co.nz. So far they have two innovative products
that were newly introduced to the market since March, 2017.
"Innovation is an important part of any business, it is the key to success in the modern world and drives sales,” says Max. “We at Clearfree knew our product was unique and special. We first had to find the key, in order to unlock the door, and stand out in the wide world of healthcare products. This led us to create our Manuka Oil Skin Care Spray 10ml, a product which we soon discovered had not been made yet in New Zealand. It is made from three Manuka based ingredients, all natural, and our product is made in New Zealand!"
Max began the journey by researching the idea using market surveys to directly target a market of teenagers. Initially they thought that teens might want creams, soaps and everything in between, but they found that they wanted something easy and a product that would not cost them their ‘precious’ time to apply.
"We decided the best way to respond to our customer’s needs was to create a spray, so we created: a 10ml bottle with an easy amber-glass spray bottle with a bamboo natural top. However, we needed time – something we did not have much of – determination, and most importantly money. Every last bit of money we had was scraped from our bank accounts and we took the risk to invest everything we had. After all, a good entrepreneur has the ability to take calculated risks and to us this idea felt good enough. Months later, we began selling much of our product and to date, we sell at least 15-20 units a week."
Max says that teenagers and parents now love their product. They have had an incredible amount of feedback and many positive results about the business. People have provided feedback about how it is the most effective product on the market and that after years of suffering acne, it is only disappearing after using Clearfree.
"We were amazed with this success, and we feel that we have genuinely helped the community. Our goal has been reached and we are giving teenagers what they need, a product that they have been deprived of for too long. No teenager deserves skin diseases like acne and although we all have to go through it; this should not mean the only products available are chemical-based. The future of Clearfree is starting now and this is only the first stepping stone in innovation for our business. We are now planning to start new products such as Manuka soap and Manuka shampoos and conditioners. New healthcare products that are still natural."
Reflecting on the journey, Max says it has not always been smooth sailing for Clearfree. "All businesses might fail sometime and if they don’t, you are most likely not on the right path to success. Only since June 2017 have our sales been positive and helping to give our business a steady cash flow.”
"This was not the worst problem we faced, however. People do not trust teenagers, a fact that we learned very early on in the creation of Clearfree. Three 17 year olds selling a health product and the general public are meant to trust us right away. No, we had to earn their trust and show them that we were more than your everyday slacking teenagers and were instead young businessmen. To do this, we needed innovation. We contacted as many business men and women as we could and got them to vouch for our product saying 'This will exceed your expectations'. Adults trust adults and this is what we did. Eventually, this lead to the public putting faith into us and they began to purchase our product."
Sustainabiity has also been an important focus for Max and Clearfree. For the outset their aim has been to create a business that uses natural ingredients, and is sourced from New Zealand businesses that protects the land for future generations, and keep ourselves financially stable via cashflow for the year and the future.
Clearfree has since sold product both domestically and internationally. They have shipped to more than 10 countries around the world ranging from: New York, United States, Australia and Dubai. This September they launched another innovative product, Clearfree’s Foaming Cleanser.
Max Lawton has achieved many things over the past two years, including:- EY YES Entrepreneur of the year for North Shore; $2000 NZTE Challenger Winner; $1000 Massey Business Winner; $3000 Massey Business School through EIA 2017; 1st Place - Kiwibank Dragons Den (YES); Company of the year; One to watch award 2017 (YES); 2nd Place - YES Nationals, New Zealand 2017; SIR Todd foundation award for YES Nationals (3,200 people and 836 teams); Student leader for Rangitoto College, 2018; NZ Asia participant-Singapore study tour 2018; Winner of South East Asia Centre of Asia Pacific Excellence; Singapore Business Challenge and Team Foodpal; Appeared on Seven Sharp;  TVNZ 1 news; Stuff.co.nz; NZHerald.co.nz; Northerntimes.co.nz; ; Scoop.nz; Northshoretimes.co.nz.
Max Lawton details his future aspirations: From December this year I will be running Clearfree by myself and will be taking over the two current partners. I have established many contacts over the past year, including Nick Mowbray - Founder of ZURU toys valued at $30 billion. Nick is going to be one of my mentors, supporting me with the future growth of the business as well as mentoring me. My future aspirations for 2019 is to attend Massey University or Auckland University to study a bachelor of Commerce to help boost my passion for business. I have great aspirations for my future and I would love to be a leader and inspire a change for the greater world.

Max Lawton receives the AIMES Emerging Talent Award from the North Harbour Club – sponsored by Bellingham Wallace – including a cash grant of $7,500.