Tesh Randall and Seb Walter are Raglan’s Mr and Mrs Coconut. They live, eat and breathe coconut. They even make yoghurt out of the stuff. This dynamic, hard-working young couple who moved to Raglan nearly three years ago are the creators of the booming Raglan Coconut Yoghurt business that began by accident eight months ago.
Already busy with a joint business and web consultancy company, Tesh started experimenting with making coconut yoghurt at home to cater for Seb’s dairy intolerance. After making an extra large batch in November, she posted a notice on the Raglan Noticeboard asking if anyone wanted to buy the couple of extra jars she had.
“I had a crazy response. Within a day I had 60 people who wanted yoghurt,” she said.
So the pair spent the weekend making yoghurt and Raglan Coconut Yoghurt was born shortly after.
“It was a really natural evolution of people locally wanting it and telling their friends. Then shops wanted to stock it.”
More than 100 shops around New Zealand now stocked the yoghurt and the pair, with the help of a few workers, was producing around 1000 jars a week at the Old School Arts Centre’s commercial kitchen. Now the plan was to set up their own kitchen in Raglan using refurbished shipping containers and they hoped to be operational by October, Tesh said.
The couple also had the more mainstream market, such as supermarkets, in their sights and could add other coconut products and flavoured coconut yoghurts to its line.
Tesh said there seemed to be a big demand for the naturally dairy-free coconut yoghurt from people with dairy intolerances, as well as from vegans and those on the FODMAP and Paleo diets.
The yoghurt also appealed to a growing number of people who were avoiding dairy for environmental reasons.
Of course, another reason was that people just loved the yoghurt. “People get addicted to it,” Tesh laughed. “We eat tons of it.”
It was hard to see how the couple could fit this growing business into their lives, along with their consultancy business, buying a new home and putting a yurt on their property.
Tesh was also the editor of the quarterly Arrival Magazine, a writer for numerous business, health and lifestyle magazines and did a weekly column on the evolution of Raglan Coconut Yoghurt for business magazine Ideolog. As an experienced wordsmith, she had self-published a children’s book and a second one would be published in August by an Auckland publishing firm.
But she wouldn’t live anywhere else, she said. Raglan was a great lifestyle choice for the couple, and now Raglan Coconut Yoghurt was reciprocating by benefiting the local community.
“I just like the idea of having a thriving business in Raglan and employing Raglanders,” Tesh said. The business also used local honey in its product, used recycled paper from LJ Hooker for its packaging, had aprons made by a local woman for taste-testing appearances and kept the local courier busy.
“It only started because it’s Raglan and everyone’s so keen to support you and buy a jar. It wouldn’t happen anywhere else,” Tesh said.