My name is Megan Fairley, for 17 years prior to starting Notion Fashion I worked at Cadburys Chocolate Factory in Dunedin. I am damn proud to say I worked inside a Chocolate Factory and damn proud to say I am a Chocolate Queen. Chocolate does not discriminate and the culture inside the Cadburys Chocolate Factory was the most diverse culture I have ever seen, and maybe even the most diverse culture in New Zealand. This diversity drove a connection between the people, which grew four key values, Love, Laughter, Kindness, and Respect, and in turn, this created a community of people which then drove home growth and profits for Cadburys and Mondelez International. I loved this culture so much and miss it so much, it has and is a dream of mine to inspire this culture within Notion and Megan Fairley. Why? Because on my journey since leaving Cadburys and starting my businesses I have seen more and more the direct opposite of this amazing culture which is toxic. In New Zealand I would rather stand naked by myself on the other side of the street than stand with toxic people, being nasty to people or being a bully is not attractive and it is certainly not something I want any part of. Dunedin this toxic culture is not ‘ok’ and is a very bad look and shows me there is clearly a lack of leadership in our city.
First came the depression and anxiety from the Cadburys Redundancy, about three months after being made redundant in 2018, I started to see the staff members that I once managed being bullied, my partner and I then lost our little dog Cheyenne who was my mental health rock. Cheyenne was blind and because of this, we were both extremely close to this little dog. She was my little super hero who never judged but always loved us both so much and when Cheyenne passed away it was like the world fell apart. Growing Notion I was faced with massive knockdowns along the way, New Zealand Fashion designers that I had stocked at Notion were being told to stop stocking with me by other boutiques. The word on the street was people didn’t like the direction I was going in. The only direction I was heading in was New Zealand to put food on the table. I felt very, very ashamed by all of this, and thought how am I ever going to get my business off the ground when people are physically saying and doing things to stop me from having any growth. This was beyond competition and because of this, I did not want to be alive, and this took me to a very dark place where I was having suicidal thoughts. A very small group of people close to me inspired me to kept pushing forward. I managed to get my charity t-shirt together with the words on the front “Chocolate Queen” and “Chocolate King” we were proud and grateful New Zealand had the opportunity to work inside an incredible culture and all we wanted to do New Zealand was to celebrate our amazing culture. I press released not once New Zealand but twice to the top media, they nibbled a bit but no full bites. The press release even had details about you Mondelez wanting to use me to promote the re-launch of the Australian Caramilk, but still, the media had no interest. I asked why, and was told it’s not the right time and oh, I was a ‘NOBODY’. I have never felt like the biggest worthless piece of sh*t, even businesses associated with the charity t-shirt laughed at me behind my backs. Trying to drum up support for Notion was also incredibly hard work and soul-sapping when talking about the business and my background of having worked at Cadburys, I would be told where do we put those people with that skill base and intellect. You know what I have always wanted to scream out at the top of my lungs if you think it was easy and all we did was watch thousands of chocolates go past on a belt why the hell aren’t you doing it and making $130 million dollars profit. People think they know what it was like to work inside the Chocolate Factory, but they know nothing, the people who actually did work there know what it was really like, and it was very different between the ruin of Cadburys to the ruin of Mondelez International. The standards under Mondelez International were through the roof and well ahead of its time even by New Zealand business standards.
The Healing Process – Balance & Our Farewell Chocolate Factory Tours
Yes, it’s been a hard three years for myself and my partner. My partner who also worked at Cadbury Dunedin for over 37 years had all of his retirement savings stolen by the evil man Barry Kloogh and during Covid-19 the job that I worked to help pay the bills made myself and another female redundant. The real ironic thing was on that same Friday afternoon that we start inside David Clarke’s office and asked him if we could have access to the old Cadburys site, one to give our people closure, two to celebrate our amazing culture and to say farewell to our old Chocolate Factory Building, just two hours after being on a high and feeling like finally we were getting somewhere and doing good to help a community that had been hurt from redundancy we were being made redundant again. It’s not cool New Zealand when you’re the one being made redundant but get asked to provide help on the redundancy process by the people who are going to make you redundant. I call that New Zealand bloody unprofessional. I describe mental illness as if you are standing on the banks beside a river and something causes this ground to become uneven, it may be anything from death, divorce, or redundancy that makes that ground uneven. You fall in the water, to keep your head above water you need support, you need connection. This connection helps to keep people buoyant whilst the healing process begins, repetitive positive steps need to be put in to reset the mindset and rewire the brain. What interferes with this healing process is human behaviour, negative human behaviour. This is could be in the form of selfishness, bullying, or nasty behaviours, these can have an extremely negative impact on someone who is struggling and start to pull you down the river faster than ever before. Every human carries wood with them and when you have dry wood you can light a fire but when you have wet wood it can become heavy to carry and you can’t do anything with the wet wood this is like having a mental illness. I am a leader and I want to help people and show them how to dry that wood and then take all of those knockdowns as these are the fuel, they are the fuel to light a fire when you have dried your wood. We need to teach people how to ignite the spark again to enable growth within people. This boss babe has got her fire starting to burn now and we have just launched Megan Fairley celebrating our Luxury Gift Boxes and Chocolate Queen Clothing. I hope from all of these people can start to understand why I am so proud to be a Chocolate Queen and so should you be. I love Chocolate and will never stop loving chocolate but I just don’t love the purple company anymore that bridge is burnt. I have just completed a photoshoot as well showing off our amazing Chocolate Queen clothing and gosh New Zealand it looks so damn smooth!!! Not too bad for a woman from a Chocolate Factory with no skills and intellect!!!! Again very proud to be a Chocolate Queen. The balance is slowly coming back!! And finally, at the end of November, I and a group of very strong and compassionate ex-Cadbury staff are organising a walk back into the old Chocolate Factory for the last time. This closure, a celebration of our culture and a farewell to our old home. This New Zealand is gutsy, and this is driven by all of those people who have knocked us down. Well done to you!!! To the bullies and the nasty people of this world be careful who you knockdown because some of us have the fire in our bellies to change the world.
Thank you for reading!!! M xx
For support please reach out, it’s ok to reach out and you are not alone with your struggles
- Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)
- Depression and Anxiety Helpline – 0800 111 757 or free text 4202 (to talk to a trained counsellor about how you are feeling or to ask any questions)