nzgirl Retires At 18
This December marks 18 years since I launched the nzgirl website. In human terms, it’s officially an adult and whilst that might seem a random analogy for an inanimate / internet non-object, it’s been my baby for a long time…so for me, it’s fitting.
I was only 21 when I started nzgirl, so actually I was just a bubba myself! I knew nothing, I had nothing and I came from nothing, and in spite of this, I persevered with the crazy idea and went ahead and launched it anyway. I embarked on the nzgirl journey with a carefree and cavalier attitude towards risk and failure that put me in great stead (i.e. I didn’t even think about it not working out), and I also applied a large helping of “I can do it”. I was determined, and it’s fair to say that Determined Jenene is a force to be reckoned with.
I still remember working out that advertising agencies were gate keepers for brands and how they spent marketing money. I didn’t see this as an impediment, so much as an obstacle I just had to leap over. The most frightening of characters came across my path in those first few months, people who were steadfastly confident and so different from anyone I had ever met in my entire life. I grew up on the North Shore, with a very South Island-centric family, and pretty sheltered from these glamorous, interesting or sort of “dangerous” characters and career choices. I was entirely a fish out of water. And I loved it, took to it and immersed in it.
It changed my life, in some ways instantly. nzgirl (and, by proxy, me) was quickly talked about. The media covered it, they held us up on a pedal stool for innovation in the new media and we grew, ran, had fun and took all the challenges in our stride. To which, there were many, continuously; we were doing something that no one had ever done before, in a small market. Even since then I’ve become somewhat pretty good (and known for) being comfortable with “making it up as a I go along” and taken this into subsequent businesses. Those traits and skills from the “early days” really set me up for life.
The life skills acquired from having a unique learning experience, such as nzgirl, have been immense and varied. It has taken me around the world (several times), it has connected me with the most extraordinary of characters, it has introduced me to opportunities that I would never have received on a linear path of personal and career development. It gave me a platform that I have shaped myself from.
That has also been a hardship, in some ways. To this day I am introduced, Every Single Time with “nzgirl” as the precursor (“introducing Jenene from nzgirl”). Now try to imagine having what you did at 21 be the first people state about you for the rest of your career? Sometimes that has felt so boxed in, almost type cast – I’m in a role that I can’t break out of. I like to think (and know) that I’ve gone on to do so many more interesting things from then. I’ve grown up and moved on, but my career birth place always seems to come with me.
And it’s probably that, more than anything else, that has led me to THIS. This moment where I say, “I’m done”.
After 18 years, I’m retiring the brand and website. Not selling it. Not handing it over to someone else. Not gifting it. But actually stopping. From the 31st of January, nzgirl will stop publishing.
The moment I thought of this idea, it felt right. I had explored so many other ways and avenues to “pass the baton”, but my gut feeling was that I would end up still having to hold the reigns in some way. And I don’t want to any longer. Not because I’m ungrateful, not because I don’t love the brand. It will always be the game changer that opened up my life and gave me (and many, many others) a springboard for life.
But what I love is being able to control the next steps. Not watch someone kill it slowly, or not give it the same love we did for years. And I know, in the bottom of my heart, that I don’t have that capacity for it any longer. I can’t love it like I did, and therefore it can’t be what it should be, so it’s time to stop. It feels honest and real.
Whilst risking an Academy Award style speech, I would like to take this last moment, as the final editorial I’ll ever write for nzgirl to thank a cast of what feels like a thousand people. To the immediate and last caretakers, Lidya and the commercial agent, Sarah from BC. To Belinda. To Jo-Jo. To Gemma. To Tee. Oh Tee. What adventures we have had. To Sarah Williams, soul friend for life, whom without nzgirl we wouldn’t have had Scott Kelly and France (how outrageous that sounds now). To Bonnie, who has been on so many journeys with me; starting out at the very beginning as an Editor and now off on her next adventure too.
Friends, foes, clients, family, husband(s), pets and, of course, fans, thank you. Thank you for turning up, supporting, commenting, enjoying, passing on and getting involved. Thanks for believing in one kid’s dream and not popping her balloon. Thanks for saying “you can do it” and “I believe in you”. Thanks, from the bottom of this nzgirl’s heart, for 18 years, helping me (and many others) do what we love.
Here’s to the many adventures ahead, may they be as thrilling and rewarding as the first one.