Jenny launched health products company Herbal Ignite with the late Tim Bickerstaff after a successful career in journalism editing national newspapers and magazines.
Her experience launching new publications during her time in the print media showed her she enjoyed “start ups” and enabled her to develop skills she was keen to apply to her own business.
She was part of the management team that launched the Sunday Star newspaper and subsequently was editor of the paper for six and a half years. Following that she launched and was the founding editor of NZ House & Garden magazine before being head hunted to become the first woman editor of the NZ Listener.
She had often talked with Tim – a well known NZ radio talk back host - about the possibility of starting a business together and when the opportunity presented they agreed a venture direct marketing health products to aging baby boomers – suited their combined skills and interests.
“Our skills were quite complementary,” says Jenny. “Tim had many of the health problems associated with mid-life – he was diabetic, he had an arthritic knee from a teenaged sports injury, he’d experienced erectile dysfunction – very common with diabetes – and other life-style related health issues common to many older men.
“I had taken a personal interest in health, written on it and was comfortable researching it.”
Tim died in 2009 from a diabetes-related heart attack; but the business has continued to grow strongly as the 40+ age group continues to seek better wellness options and satisfying relationships into later life.
Women’s Needs Matter
“It’s interesting that 20 years after Viagra we are now seeing women increasingly wanting their sexual needs to be recognised and for men to understand sex is not just about erections – important as they may be,” says Jenny.
“We’re finding a strong interest in the women’s ranges we are developing to complement the men’s health products.”
Raised on a Waikato farm, Jenny is a fifth generation New Zealander – her great-great-grandfather and great-grandfather bought land in New Plymouth from the NZ Company, arriving in 1844 from Worcester.
The Great Outdoors
She is passionate about the land of her birth and loves the outdoors. She is a founding trustee and former chair of Te Araroa, The Long Pathway, the charitable trust which established the 3000km New Zealand long, north south walking trail, and she is an avid conservationist who helps with pest control in the Ark in the Park Project in the Waitakere Ranges.
She has written two books: with Gill Ellis she wrote a book on women in management Women Managers; Success in Our Own Terms (Penguin Books) and with Tim Bickerstaff wrote Heroes and Villains, a NZ sporting book.