Val Reitnauer, has short brown hair wearing a yellow blouse and black pants, stands with her husband Timo Reitnauer, in a white shirt and grey jeans, with water and hills in the background.

Owners of We Love Local, Val and Timo Reitnauer.

Val and Timo Reitnauer are the proud owners of We Love Local, a sustainable gifting ecosystem that connects local artisan producers with customers throughout the country.

They do it all online, curating hundreds of quality, ethical gifts that support local businesses and strengthen community ties at the same time.

“Every gift box supports our passionate, experienced artisan producers and their staff while also showcasing our regions and putting a smile on someone’s face,” explains Val.

The couple sets aside 1% of every sale to donate to Kiwi charities via One Percent Collective.

“We strongly believe in the power of community, it’s at the heart of what we do, and it’s good to know we are spreading the love and making a difference,” says Timo.

Small beginnings

Originally, the Reitnauers started as a local delivery service called Kāpiti Goodies and worked out of their garage.

Timo, of Germany, and Val, from Mauritius, had met in Melbourne. He worked in the domain name industry before moving to Wellington to start a company in the space, and she worked in hospitality.

On their move to the Kāpiti Coast, they were looking for a new venture. As regulars at local markets, they were charmed by the incredible range of quality artisan goods available.

“We thought it would be perfect for these products to be sold in wooden boxes online — a quick search came up with wooden-made boxes made by The Shed Project, a community space that provides opportunities for disabled people,” says Val.

And so Kāpiti Goodies began, which eventually morphed into We Love Local when they acquired the Wellington-based business in 2018 and the rest, as they say, is history.

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Loving local takes off

Today the couple employs more than 10 staff and works out of a Paraparaumu warehouse jam-packed with products from more than 200 artisan producers nationwide.

They offer a huge array of gift boxes comprising quality local goods from most regions throughout the country, including the ever-popular Christmas gift boxes and COVID-19 care packs.

“We weren’t expecting it, but COVID-19 lockdowns ended up being a platform for us to launch off. We got phone calls from very desperate people wanting to reach out to their families, either with condolences or to celebrate. But it’s meant we’ve felt very connected with customers all around us.”

“It’s also been a way to help artisan producers sell their products, so it’s been a win-win.”

The Reitnauers now plan to expand into Northland, Gisborne, Marlborough, Tasman, and Southland. Alongside new locations, they want to start offering combinations of food products and actual experiences, like wine tours, to really showcase the regions.

“We get little thank you notes back with boxes that are returned, we get businesses telling us they love being part of what we do. We don’t need all the trimmings on our gift boxes, it’s about community, and that’s enough for us.”

“There are dozens of gift box companies out there, but what sets us apart is our focus on local quality products from our regions.”

Timo Reitnauer

The gift of giving back

Timo and Val both call themselves Kiwis nowadays, but when they first came to New Zealand, they associated their travel experiences with the quality of food in the regions they visited.

“We Love Local is our way of giving back. What better way than to showcase what New Zealand has to offer in terms of food!”

Work-life balance

Living in Waikanae offers the parents of a six-year-old the perfect work-life balance.

“Being so close to Wellington gives us the best of both worlds — it’s easy to do business because the capital is so collaborative and well-connected, and we love to wander the little laneways. It’s just a discovery of new places and amazing food,” they say.

“We also love the simple lifestyle on the Kāpiti Coast, where we are close to nature. We can go outside for a walk together, pick up and throw stones in the water — it sparks memories from home.”