Megan Stenning is the owner and operator of New Zealand Naturals in Airlie Beach. Here she shares the highlights and challenges of her small business journey, and how she learnt that ultimately – it was all worth it.
Megan and her partner Mark, originally from New Zealand, fell in love with Airlie Beach after spending a week there on holiday. Returning to New Zealand, they decided to dream big, and with no previous experience as business owners contacted New Zealand Naturals about the possibility of establishing a shop in the small beach side town.
Growing a team
In 2011, New Zealand Naturals Airlie Beach opened its doors for the first time. Seven years on you can still find Megan, Mark and the team – one senior, five school students, and ‘Richie (the) Macaw’ – serving up ice-cream, fresh juice and desserts any day of the week to locals and tourists alike.
A key driver of Megan and Mark’s business is passion for growth and sharing their product. Megan explains how they have always had pride in the brand, saying “I love watching peoples’ faces when they taste it [New Zealand Naturals ice cream] for the first time. OMG is generally the reaction.”
But Megan and Mark provide more than simply ice-cream to the Airlie Beach community. Megan says, “We love meeting all walks of life… and tell our customers where the best places are to eat and go for coffee, activities to try, that sort of thing. The next day they’ll always tell us “That was fantastic”.
With great power comes great responsibility
Megan believes that the best part about being a business owner is not having a boss, but cheekily admits that she tells Mark what to do from time to time. However, like all business owners, there’s sacrifice. Megan admits, “Mark and I haven’t had a holiday together in years, as someone always has to stay and mind the shop.
Their list of responsibilities is endless, and if one of them is at the shop, the other will be doing paperwork. They also need to be prepared to cover a shift at short notice.
When Cyclone Debbie hit in 2017, it had a serious impact on the business and its locals surrounds, with trade impacted hugely in the months following. Megan explains, “Things were hard up here. Where we are [the shop] was all boarded up to redo the roof, and trade remained down 85% for eight weeks. We were under insured for such an event.”
Megan’s Prospa experience
After seeing an ad for Prospa on TV Megan called the customer service team. The application process was simple, and provided her with a link for submitting bank statements, which she did that same day. The money was in her bank account less than 24 hours later. Megan admits, “I wasn’t expecting it to be so easy.”
Megan goes on to explain how cash-flow friendly her daily repayment plan is, and says she would definitely recommend a Prospa small business loan: “It’s paid [direct debit] first thing every morning… It doesn’t hurt my business because it’s small daily amounts.”
Prospa was there, at the right place and in a moment of need.
What’s next for Megan, Mark and the business?
Megan and Mark continue to rebuild the business after the cyclone. They’ve acquired an ice-cream cart as a strategy to bring in new sales, and plan to take ice cream to local markets and sports matches.
After the business, Megan and Mark would like to travel around Australia for a year to see the places they’ve heard so much about from their customers.
If you find yourself in Airlie Beach, pop into New Zealand Naturals to visit Megan, Mark, ‘Richie (the) Macaw’ and the rest of the team to pick up a scoop of the irresistible ice-cream.
Address: New Zealand Naturals Airlie Beach – 13/370 Shute Harbour Rd, Airlie Beach QLD 4802