Jeanette Rea

Scarborough Fare
Tell us about your background.

After graduating from Otago University I began my career in the food industry with Tegel Poultry where I spent 5 very valuable years working a semi technical role/semi sales role in a corporate environment. Following my return from an OE, where the entrepreneurial fire was lit, I established an avant-garde home delivery and retail flower business.
After seven years there I purchased land and established a growing operation in South Auckland, with a focus on growing to my own (and the larger market) demand. Having sold the flower retailing business by now, the year 2000 saw me take an opportunity to change my growing practice from flowers to herbs to create what we now know as Scarborough Fare. Over the ensuing period I, along with partner in crime Pam, have grown the business to supply premium quality, fresh cut culinary herbs, via our wholesale partners, to cafes, restaurants, bars and hotels across the length and breadth of New Zealand. I have been here 27 years.

What’s the best thing about your role?

Above all else, the ‘being a grower’ bit! Seeing my plants flourish.

Do you travel much for the role ?

I travel to pursue business opportunities, visiting customers and looking at technology, but not extensively.

Was being a woman a hindrance or a help in getting this role?

Not at all! Complementary skills and clever solutions are the drivers for our model.

Did you require any specific education or training for this role?

Tenacity and being true to one’s self are important.

What do you do now?

I am still 100% involved in the business as ‘The Little Boss’

How did you get that role? What was the pathway to that?

There are two bosses – the little one and the big one – I’m smaller so I get the little boss title! In establishing a business one assumes the top role from the get go. If the venture grows beyond your capability to do it all yourself and you involve others in it, you perhaps then get to choose your direction. For me it was the same from the start to here. My thrill is in innovating, which requires leadership and drive to bring to fruition. I don’t plan stopping this any time soon

If you have children how do/did you balance your job and family? What are/were the biggest issues? How did you deal with them?

Work hard, play hard is the only philosophy I subscribe to and involving the family in the business to get the work done so we can go and play together has been a tried and true method. Time is always an issue but then, there are 24 hours in a day!

Do you have any qualifications?

Not in horticulture specifically, but science and business based. Lots of ‘learn by doing’.

Do you have any advice/tips for other women wanting a role like yours?

Just do it.