The best chocolate story you will ever hear.
Hello, my name is Megan Fairley and I am the owner and founder of Notion Fashion. www.notionfashion.co.nz and now founder of www.meganfairley.co.nz. This is where it all began amazing Chocolate Queens and Kings!! It's a massive story and so much to it, but this is how those very special words Chocolate Queen came to exist on such a larger scale. Charity t-shirts for I am Hope New Zealand are still available for a limited time at Notion. www.notionfashion.co.nz and check out the absolute huge news as this Chocolate Queen along with a group of amazing ex-Cadburys staff put on their Oompa Loompa bring back the the factory chocolate tours back to life for the very last time, before our Kingslanding of the south falls to the ground. Check out the tours at @projecthope.beyond on facebook.
In 2017 I also was leading twenty-five staff members through redundancy at Cadburys in Dunedin, New Zealand. I was the front-line leader to the second-floor nightshift team and was coming into my seventeenth year of service with Cadburys.
Before I tell you a story let’s stop and acknowledge the facts. To be able to move forward and to mentally heal I need to acknowledge what I know. I have suffered from mental illness due to the trauma of a redundancy. I acknowledge the redundancy at Cadburys by Mondelez International was the first trigger, for me, it is not the only trigger, but it was the start of the mental illness. I know I am not the only staff member who has struggled and is still struggling. This is not the first redundancy I have experienced with Cadburys in Dunedin, but this final redundancy was the first by Mondelez International.
This is what I know...
The staff in the Dunedin factory made $130 million dollars profit over six years.
The staff in the Dunedin factory out-performed all three Australian factories' time-after-time. 2017 saw Dunedin’s greatest performance.
The staff in the Dunedin factory broke all records with the fastest-selling chocolate bar ever produced - Caramilk.
The staff in the Dunedin factory created a brand that every New Zealander thought was a New Zealand made chocolate company.
2018 was 150 years of chocolate production in Dunedin and in 2018 this was celebrated by closing a factory down and making 400 people redundant.
ALL WE WANTED WAS TO FEEL PROUD
During 2017 there were a number of front-line leaders on the dayshift teams who were pushing to create hoodies as a leavers gift for their teams. The day-shift front line leader from the second-floor team planned and communicated with the company a number of times on this idea and when she approached the company with a two-page list of names in support of the hoodies and informed them of her intention to get them printed, the company shut the idea down. They told her they did not want anyone walking around New Zealand wearing something with the words “second-floor leavers” prior to being made redundant. For Cadburys and Mondelez International, the redundancy was about protecting the brand and never about the people. There was absolutely nothing offensive being put on these hoodies and all the staff wanted, was to feel proud about who they were and what they had achieved-they wanted some hope. I will never forget the day I walked into the Mikroverk office and saw the day shift front-line leaders face of loss and grief as she explained that the hoodies were not allowed. A huge amount of work and effort for nothing! It broke my heart to watch a company that was once number one in New Zealand, become a company that had absolutely lost touch with the people at the heart of their brand-the staff on the factory floor. At the end of the year, the company announced the hoodies could go ahead. But no one now wanted them by then- the damage had already been done.
This is where the inspiration for my Chocolate King and Queen T-shirts comes from. I decided to make a t-shirt with a slogan that was not offensive to the staff but made them feel proud of where they came from. No one knew what I was up, to not even my partner. I kept it a secret until the very last day of work in 2017. Towards the end, there wasn’t a lot of work inside the factory. Most of the cleaning had already been completed days before, and the front line leaders allowed their staff annual leave as the emotions started to grow towards the end. The second-floor nightshift team, however, was a little different, maybe because of their leader. Around twelve of my staff turned up on the very last day and we had our own little celebration of hope for ourselves, we had a playlist of our favourite songs inspired by the redundancy-songs like Simply the Best, Money, Money, Money, and Time To Say Goodbye. We had a huge pot luck tea and dressed the front of the second floor up with our photo-boards and Christmas decoration and even a Christmas tree. I handed out bags containing the t-shirts to my staff, with messages of hope hand-written on every bag.
I have never cried so much since being made redundant, the grief has been overwhelming and to me more overwhelming than the loss of my Mum, Dad, and Brother. What I miss the most is the people. The culture we had at Cadburys site was extraordinary and should be something that every person who has ever worked there should be proud of. This culture was formed when the factory was operated by Hudsons and nurtured by the Cadbury’s staff. I’m sure the Hudson's family should be very proud we maintained this awesome legacy. This culture has helped to shape me to be the leader I am today. Today I am feeling extremely proud because now I about to do extraordinary good with this redundancy and we are about to share this special story with all of the world. The t-shirts I produced at the end of 2017 for the second-floor night shift team are now for sale again, with the fantastic support of local chocolatiers OCHO and #IAMHOPE. This time they have a few more logos on them and we have glammed them up to be ‘fit for a King and Queen’ We have connected with OCHO because they understand and respect the hardship Cadburys staff have endured with the closure of the factory. They also understand how hard it is to make chocolate!!! I AM HOPE, run by Mike King understands and supports the need to raise awareness in relation to the connection between redundancy and mental illness. Redundancy is a trigger for mental illness. When someone is made redundant it does not just affect the person being made redundant it impacts everyone, including the family and especially children. The day that you are made redundant- this is not the end, unfortunately, it is just the beginning but you can rest assured there is hope. #IAMHOPE
By buying our Chocolate King and Chocolate Queen t-shirts YOU will help drive the connection. The more t-shirts we sell the more money we raise for I AM HOPE and the more hope and inspiration we can give back to Cadburys staff made redundant. Every t-shirt sold has a special handwritten hope message from an ex-Cadburys staff member and the more t-shirts we sell the more staff we can connect with. 100% profits on the sale of the Chocolate King and Chocolate Queen t-shirts will go to #IAMHOPE to raise money for free counselling for our youth in New Zealand. Our youth need the support now and today if they are to be resilient enough to face trauma as we have faced in Dunedin.
There is nothing more powerful in this world than a good story, and as our King and Queen slogans are inspired by Game of Thrones who just picked their new King ‘Bran the Broken’ based on a powerful, inspiring story. By reading and hearing our story I hope you can hear YOUR own story, as we all have and know of someone in this beautiful world who has been affected by mental illness, mental illness is a hard story. If redundancy is to be done it needs to be done with the highest level of respect and compassion to lessen the mental health trauma that will come. Know your staff and respect them they are the heart of your business.
“Be yourself, everyone else is taken” never be afraid or ashamed of your story, and be proud to be different. Megan xx
Chocolate Queen & Chocolate King t-shirts are available now from the OCHO Factory and Notion Studio, with the RRP of $50 - 100% profit going back to #IAMHOPE. In the next few weeks, I will launch the t-shirts on-line at Notion Fashion. Don't worry this is not a one-off, we will continue to keep producing them. Anyone urgently excited and wanting one now contact Megan at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange an order for You!!!
Thank you for your support Megan xx