Most Excellent Holdings Limited (MEHL) legal counsel Rebecca Janes is a champion of innovative New Zealand businesses.
“Their brands are premium, exciting and interesting,” she says.
Rebecca has only been with MEHL for six months – having previously worked for Icebreaker and before that, Minter Ellison Rudds Watts in the commercial team – and admits she is still getting her head around the business.
To add to the pressure, Rebecca also has two children – Jedi, who is 13 years old and Ava, who is five years old.
“When working for a global company, you work whatever time of day it is to fit around the company needs. This adds flexibity in other areas, for example, to take a break during the day and watch your child do a swim race or pick them up from school and then you can go back online later on. Some people like working the ‘nine to five’ but working in-house for a global company, you seem to have more flexibility.
“A lot of my work revolves around commercial aspects of the business. There is a lot of transacting with external lawyers as we have other offices in Spain, the UK, China and the US,” she says.
MEHL was launched about 20 years ago. Its major brands are phil&teds, Mountain Buggy and Mokopuna Merino. The company also has an investment arm which invests in other companies that it can add value to.
Rebecca says she there are “a lot of commercial legal aspects to the role”, but that she also has scope to join in on the business side of the Mokopuna operation.
“I enjoy it because before I was lawyer I was a clothes designer and had a clothing company. It’s mixing things up a bit.”
Contributing to Mokopuna meetings means Rebecca can add her perspective and gain a broader view on the company’s activities.
“That’s what I find about in-house; you know your clients well because you’re the client. Knowing the business and sitting in on things which aren’t strictly legal is very important,” she says.
Rebecca says MEHL’s national and international success is simple; it has premium brands.
“I think it appeals to New Zealanders because everybody knows the brand stories … Mountain Buggy, phil&teds and Mokopuna are iconic brands and everybody who has a baby or knows someone who has had a baby are aware how great the products are.”
All the brands are amazing in their own right, with phil&teds and Mountain Buggy both recently winning Red Dot Awards, which recognises the best in design and business.
“It’s quite exciting walking down the road and seeing someone with a phil&teds or Mountain Buggy. It all started in Wellington and is getting global recognition.”
Rebecca says she is still “feeling her way around” the business and hopes to do her bit in strengthening MEHL’s brands both locally and globally as she finds her feet.
“The short-term goal when you go in-house is getting the systems right, which makes things easier in the long term.
“I also never want to be seen as red tape and to be solutions focused rather than problem focused. I just want to have some fun with it – it’s a great company to work for.”