Foreman has this year released In the Arena, a book which charts her progression from 21-year-old solo mum to founder of former New Zealand Natural owner Emerald Group and beyond. The below extract has been published with permission.
One of my great failures was trying to sell ice cream on the internet. This was my idea, a crazy one as it turned out: Emerald Foods would launch a website, 0800icecream.co.nz. ‘Someone’s sick or dying, or it’s Valentine’s Day? Don’t send flowers, send ice cream!’ was the plan. The customer would order online and we would send out a freezer pack containing the ice cream, two spoons and two bowls. It was a dismal failure.
I spent $200,000 on R&D and $200,000 on marketing, we put huge signs in the windows of all our shops, and we advertised using social media (in the days before we really knew how to do it) but no one got it, apart from me. Altogether we sold about 200 packs.
It’s important you own your mistakes. I had to face my execs who told me, ‘If you’d put the same amount of money into improving the factory, we could have paid it back 10 times by now.’ I had to sit there and say, ‘It was my idea, executed my way and we failed spectacularly. I’m sorry.’ The failure and the mea culpa weren’t exactly enjoyable. As a great friend likes to say, ‘There ain’t no orgasms in that, honey’, and she was right!
Extract from Diane Foreman: In the Arena by Diane Foreman with Jenni McManus. Published by Random House (NZ). RRP $40.00. Text copyright © Diane Foreman 2015
This story was originally published in NZRetail magazine issue 741, December 2015 / January 2016.