Chapter 13 From Nutri Metics to Jeunique International

When I decided my time with Nutri Metics was over it was a matter of deciding what to do next. After 28 years with one company, it was a big decision.

Nutri Metics had offered to purchase my business if I signed a 5 years restraint of trade agreement, which would mean I could not work in the Beauty Industry for that length of time. My business was worth a sizeable sum, but I decided to walk away to have the option to take up other opportunities.

The former owner of Nutri Metics, Mulford J Nobbs from the USA, was always a great support to us and I had heard he was disappointed with the direction his previous company was taking after he sold it and was keen to start up in the Pacific Region again with his other company Jeunique International Inc.

I decided to give him a call and spoke to his Financial Manager at the time Ken Finn, who I always had a great association with, explained my situation and what I was proposing and asked if the rumour I had heard was in fact true. He said let me speak to Nobby (Mr Nobbs was known as Nobby) and we will get back to you.

I had just gone to share the conversation with Neville when the phone rang and it was Nobby, anxious to hear the story.  After we shared our updates I asked him if indeed he was keen to reopen in New Zealand and would he be interested in us helping him get started?  He said he was keen and he would get back to me with some details.

Next day, I was offered the job of opening his business again – I told him we came as a team and the roles of General Manager for me and Operations Manager for Neville set the wheels in motion. However, for us to finalise this arrangement we needed to visit Los Angles and talk directly with Nobby.  All went well until he hit us with a bombshell out of left field!

“You will love living in Auckland”  Whaaaaat!?  We were living in Dunedin at the time and had not long completed a big extension on our home with a wonderful training studio and facilities overlooking the Dunedin harbour, a real pride and joy and in initial discussion he was fine with operating the business out of Dunedin. The reason for an Auckland destination was its International Airport.

We definitely did not want to move to Auckland being Southerners and not keen on big city life.  As our two children had moved to Christchurch, Neville suggested Christchurch – could we do some research and put a proposal for Christchurch?   This was agreed and Neville set to work.

Neville continues the story:

As Fran says Nobby thought we would like to live in Auckland, but quite frankly we were never going to go there and would have turned down the offer, so decided to push for Christchurch as we could see ourselves living there. On stepping off the plane in Christchurch having decided to have a day to scope out how to approach this as it would need a good proposal, we could see he had a strong preference for Auckland.

His main concern was the airport for importing product and ease of access for overseas visitors, plus world name recognition.

I went to 3 sources for information required for our proposal.

  1. Christchurch Airport

My contact at the airport was the Marketing Manager, who was extremely helpful and Christchurch Airport had one particular point of difference.  It operates 24/7, where Auckland has a night curfew. I was able to gain all the details on flight frequency, cargo facilities, volumes handled and future plans.

  1. Canterbury Development Corporation

These people were able to give me a comprehensive update on the Canterbury Region including Christchurch City, to prove absolutely that Canterbury was a power province.

  1. Emery Worldwide one of the leading freight forwarders in New Zealand at the time.

I was a little lucky here as I picked them out of the yellow pages and connected with a Senior Manager who was the nephew of someone I knew at the competitor Brewery in Dunedin so immediately had a good rapport with him.  This was important as the cost of operations in Christchurch had to be much less for any proposal to succeed.

All parties I spoke with came through within a few days with everything I needed in my mind to convince Nobby of the benefits of starting up the business in Christchurch.

By the time I put my comments to the written submissions, brochures, press clippings and the likes I had quite a portfolio to send to him.  This was dispatched within a week of getting back to New Zealand and within a week of receiving the courier pack we got the answer.

Yes, Christchurch looks good, now please find premises for the warehouse and offices.

We were given specific details on this so began several trips to Christchurch to find the premises described.

This was duly found at 9 Humphries drive in the suburb of Ferrymead.  The warehouse was much bigger than what we required so we were able to sublet 7,000 square foot of it to a 3PL Company, Online Distribution which began a very successful mutual association and we were able to call on their vast knowledge of the city as we got to grips with setting up the business.

Due to the quality of the reports I received from the 3 parties, the association formed with Online was the right decision for the company.

On every trip Nobby made to New Zealand he always commented that the decision to set up in Christchurch was an excellent one and he was happy with the location and premises.

We started with Jeunique in April 1999

Working on establishing the warehouse, fitout for staff room, offices and training studio, signage all regulation requirements you name it. Then to organise the importation of stock to start the business.

We opened the doors as Jeunique  International Ltd in October 2000

We had no business to start, however, some of my very loyal Nutri Metics consultants and directors decided to follow me.

We made a conscious effort not to encourage anyone to move from Nutri Metics. So made the decision to start with Jeunique’s  Jewellery division so as not to conflict with Nutri Metics.

During the setup phase, I concentrated on spreading the word and enrolling new consultants and on the 6th of October we entered the first 43 consultants into our database and we were on our way!

Jeunique had previously purchased a Jewellery company of high quality costume  jewellery and leather handbags so it was a new range to get started with.  It did not take long to get our first consultants established in selling Jewellery and we had a lot of fun.

In March 2000 we introduced the Jeunique Bra and Underfashions – now this was a real change!

This division was very successful in the States and nothing like it in New Zealand.

We offered the opportunity to our existing consultants to train as Bra Ladies with the first intake and had two full classes for the trainer who came from the States. Senior Vice President, Phyllis Kruckenberg along with Mr Nobbs founder and President.

The ladies who trained took a leap of faith in what I presented to them, as they had never even seen the garments!  We had an intensive training program and a very excited team to get started.

We had arranged a PR lady to do some stories on Phyllis and the Bra and managed to get an interview on TV 1, 6 o’clock News with Phyllis.  We were watching the broadcast at our premises and the phone started to ring and it never stopped all night.  People wanted appointments for a bra fitting.

Next morning we quickly organised more phone lines (we only had two) to cope with the flood of calls which continued on.

The consultants who trained could not keep up with the business we had created for them – talk about a launch!!  The power of the media when you have a unique story to tell.

I then took Phyllis and Nobby on a tour around New Zealand. This included Phyllis being interviewed on National Radio and many provincial stations and newspapers throughout New Zealand.

We conducted presentations, training and interviews – massively successful launch of the Bra division.

The Jeunique Bra Makes News – As published in the Christchurch Star

“The Jeunique Bra truly has a story to tell.. and an audience ready to listen.  On a trip through New Zealand, Jeunique’s Executive Vice President Phyllis Kruckenberg (pictured above) met with the press and presented the fascinating facts about our Jeunique Bra.

Judging from the vast media exposure and the thousands of calls that followed, the public is very interested in the Jeunique bra and the benefits it offers.  After more than three decades travelling the world promoting Jeunique’s bras “one of the world’s foremost authorities on bras”  has hit New Zealand shores.

Mrs Kruckenberg is an unstoppable whirlwind of energy.  She is not just a saleswoman.  She is a perfectly coiffeured and groomed crusader.  She is also on a mission to ensure the New Zealand Women’s breasts are suitable, adorned and upholstered.

Recently arrived from Los Angeles, her first impulse on reaching New Zealand was to check out the bosoms on display in Auckland.

Her verdict? Women in New Zealand wear their breasts as badly as women everywhere else in the world.”