The Humble Queen of Organics by Vanessa Finnigan
It’s hard to believe nineteen years ago, a twenty-seven year old mum conceived the beginnings of the world’s first certified organic skin care range, in her kitchen on the Gold Coast. Narelle Chenery is a woman on a mission, who continues to make a difference, while empowering us to create more in our lives.
So what inspired Narelle? Well, years ago she was shocked when she was introduced to some ‘natural’ skincare products, (she was studying applied Science at Uni at the time) that she later discovered were highly toxic. So it planted the seed of inspiration for her to create a range of skin care products (and later on health products and a household range) that were safe and effective. Entrepreneur Alf Orpen was impressed with what he saw and encouraged her to develop her products into a fully certified organic range. Narelle had been reading up about aromatherapy, herbal remedies, and recipes for natural skin care products but developed her own processes that were even more effective. And after 18 months of intense research and a grant from the government, her range become fully certified organic in 2001.
‘Miessence’ is now a global household brand, with 30 staff working in the Gold Coast Head Quarters (ONEgroup factory), and the business and Narelle are not slowing down anytime soon!
It was no mean feat for a young woman to find that belief inside herself and power on, while raising three children. And she hasn’t just created a revolutionary personal care and household range, she has educated people, empowering them to know they can have vibrant lives.
“The biggest act of support I had was when my husband left his job to help me! It was a huge leap of faith, jumping off the cliff without a safety net. We HAD to make it work! There’s nothing like having no income to fall back on to inspire you to work really hard to make it happen. It seems that the universe conspired to support us after that,” said Narelle.
Some might wonder if a gorgeous, young woman whose business is turning over millions, would be a target for people’s judgements. Again, Narelle seems to take it all in her stride. “I haven’t really been at the receiving end of tall poppy resentments. I don’t know what is said behind my back, and frankly, I don’t care. If people want to criticise me, they’ll certainly get a response,” she said.
Narelle is also not shy about being a self-confessed ‘hippie’, but believes ‘hippie is the new black, or should we say green’ and becoming more common in mainstream circles. Clean and green is what the planet and people are requiring!!
“The good old 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), are of course central tenets. I love the ‘Buyerarchy of Needs’ (thanks Maslow), where you just use what you have in the first place, and borrow, swap and buy something new as the last resort,” she enthusiastically shared.
Narelle has a ‘back to basics’, ‘down to earth’ way of being; she is more concerned about making a positive impact on our beautiful planet than getting caught up in the airs and graces of a superficial life.
“Many years ago someone came up to me at a public talk and made a comment about me wearing the same dress I’d worn a couple of years ago. Initially I was a little embarrassed and humiliated, but then when I came to my senses I thought, bugger it! I like the dress. It travels well, doesn’t need ironing, and it looks good. Who cares if I wear it more than once, I’m not the Queen of England! I love letting my girlfriends know when I’m doing a wardrobe cleanout. We make a day of it. We all bring clothes to swap, and the leftovers are donated.”
Narelle balances her work, family and social life with the same finesse she manages her business and she has strong family values. She shared, “What’s all the blood, sweat and tears for if you don’t make time for what’s really important in life?”
And her personal life has not been without pain and anguish. She said after her divorce five years ago, she lived with friends and family for three years and saved up for a house deposit. She cut up her credit cards and vowed to live more simply and never have a huge debt again.
These days, Narelle aims to help her family out where she can. Her focus in the past year has been on helping her kids get a head start. “My eldest (22yo) daughter and her partner are having their first child in a few months and me and my folks are helping them to buy their first home. My middle daughter (20yo) works in our company (and is our hot-shot CEO in the making), she lives on her own and is paying off her home interest-free that my partner and I helped buy.” Narelle said her son (18) lives with them in a little townhouse, and is an apprentice electrician. “I think he’s just enjoying his newfound driving freedom and a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner every day,” she said.
It’s obvious Narelle finds her bliss with the simple things in life and especially when she spends time with her loved ones and communes with nature. “I always manage to mix business with pleasure and have as much nature time as possible in the place I’m visiting. My favourite relaxing past times are dancing and socialising with friends. Summer is my bush-doof camping music festival time, where I get to do both in the extreme. I’m lucky to have the best beaches in the world at my doorstep, and also some lush and beautiful rainforests, waterfalls and rivers only a short drive away. Rainforest therapy is my favourite spiritual practice.”
Narelle is a mega creator with over 30 new product concepts on her to do list in the next 12 months. She is not only the queen of organics, she is the master of prioritising and then actualising her dreams.