YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR TRAILBLAZER
Written on the 25 November 2011
A Nerang-based organic skin products producer is exporting to 65 countries and launching a new range.
Organic and Natural Enterprise Group (ONEgroup) creative director Narelle Chenery (pictured) is thrilled to know products she once made in her kitchen are being used around the world.
“About 90 per cent of products we export go to New Zealand, Singapore, Japan and Canada,” says Chenery.
“Our nutritional supplements are most popular. Our highest turnover products include healthcare and then toothpaste, body wash and shampoo.”
Chenery credits word of mouth for her company’s organic growth and social media platforms for spreading the word.
“People fall in love with the products and some even want to make a business out of it by joining.”
“We are also launching more nutritional supplements, complementing daily nutrition with necessary micro and macro nutrients,” she says.
“We are looking to expand that range to more food groups, from which we don’t get enough nutrients into our daily diet.”
Chenery claims there is strong demand for organic products, pointing to the recent release of an organic burger at one major fast food franchise.
“I’m positive there is going to be a swing towards, or at least an interest in, organics. I’m hoping more mainstream people start to become aware of them,” she says.
ONEgroup’s journey began with experimentation in organic skincare, cosmetic and household products. A quest for chemical-free environments led Chenery to establish Miessence with husband Colin and engineer Alf Orpen in 2001.
The trio added John Hunter to form ONEgroup in 2003.The Miessence range includes more than 150 products manufactured by 30 staff in Ashmore and generates $10 million annually, mostly online.
Chenery has battled for 10 years to help organic products gain international credibility. After claiming her hard-fought recognition, she became disenchanted after seeing companies around the world marketing their products as ‘organic’.
“Other companies have seen our success in the organic market and have simply jumped on the green bandwagon,” says the 40-year-old.
Chenery has been an activist for social and consumer change, frequently travelling overseas to spread her message and she believes consumers should turn to organic products for health, environmental and anti-allergic benefits.
The US has pushed for organic products to have certification labelling, but it has been a painfully slow process and has not yet eliminated most of ONEgroup’s competition.
ONEgroup has indefinitely postponed its pursuit of US certification and the US retail market after the company decided to shift its focus from retail to network marketing.
“We completed a nine-month consultation with leaders and had to choose between the two, because they couldn’t live harmoniously together,” says Chenery.
“Staff felt that retail was poaching customers, so we came to a tough decision and chose to put all our eggs in the basket for our people.”
Her products are still independently certified to meet international food grade standards by organic certifying organisations, including Australian Certified Organic, US Department of Agriculture and International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement.
ONEgroup plans to recruit a new marketing manager in coming months.
“We want people who make it a harmonious and fun work environment,’’ she says.
“They also need to strive to be the best in product, customer service, ethics, profit, focus, conduct, communication and people.”
The company forecasts 20 per cent growth in FY12.