Accru Harris Orchard client Nigel Treliving, owner of the Cocco Corporation, is the man behind the Maine Beach brand – a highly successful line of body care and home fragrance products using Australian botanicals. Having been in the gift and homewares industry for most of his working life – in fact, he’s one of the founding members of the Gift and Homewares Association in Australia – Nigel and his business are going strong and show no signs of slowing down.
Originally from Adelaide, Nigel started working in David Jones during his school holidays. He had to prove himself before being admitted into the family engineering business, but he decided not to follow in his father’s footsteps and began working in various positions in an Adelaide shopping centre business, including a business broking division. At age 27, he became a crew member of a yacht that sailed around the Mediterranean. Having the opportunity to spend time in Ibiza, the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Asia and India truly opened his mind. He met some influential people, examined retail trends and came to appreciate different cultures, artisans and good design.
In 1978, he started his first business in Adelaide, “Trelivings”, and represented international businesses importing and exporting stationery, body care, ceramics, comestibles, textiles and homewares. Then, well before The Body Shop was on the scene, he started importing, manufacturing, exporting and selling body products. Operating from Sydney and selling into department stores such as David Jones and Myer in Australia and numerous North American companies like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, he eventually set up a second office in California and ultimately exported products to a total of 18 countries.
In 2010, he founded Maine Beach as a line of body care and home fragrance products which use Australian botanicals from inspired destinations:
- Ligurian honey from Kangaroo Island
- Oranges from the Riverland
- Lavender from Tasmania
- Coconut and lime from Lord Howe Island
- Macedon Rose with Rose Hip Oil.
After some setbacks in 2011 (a time when he admits his products were suddenly ‘out of touch’ with consumer preferences) he had to rethink things as the gift and homeware market had become extremely competitive. So the Maine Beach products are positioned at the premium end of the market with higher-end pricing and packaging.
Today, the unique, organic products are created by working directly with premium growers and producers and sold through smaller retail outlets instead of large department stores.
Keys to success
As with many businesses, sales have slowed in recent months due to the COVID-19 crisis, particularly in national airports. However, thanks to some important life lessons instilled in him from his mum – who lived through World War II and other catastrophic life events – Cocco has little debt, low overheads, cash reserves and an excellent business model.
Nigel says that the lessons he learned from his mum and observing other successful business models, include:
- Don’t owe more than you can realistically service – work within your means
- Be resilient – there are always challenges in life
- Always save for that rainy day – keep something in reserve
He believes other keys to his success include:
- Having a global perspective
- Understanding the manufacturing process – a plan in and a plan out
- Staying one step ahead of consumer trends
- Getting out on the shop floor
- Having good mentors and being prepared to listen
- Being open-minded, flexible and finding a career that aligns with your personality
When asked about his advice to other business owners, Nigel says, “It’s important to like yourself first. Don’t be afraid to challenge tradition. Seek to learn about other cultures, be honest and don’t lose sight of the incredible value of friendship in life and business.”
About Accru Harris Orchard’s involvement
Cocco has been a client of the Accru Harris Orchard McLaren Vale team since 2015. “They’re wonderful people and I enjoy working with them,” Nigel says. “They’re a great support to me and my business.”
Accru Harris Orchard Director, Andrew Jeynes sees Nigel as the epitome of an outstanding entrepreneur. “He has a fantastic business model, is well-connected and constantly moving forward,” Andrew says. “He’s got a great brand and is incredibility switched on, always staying one step ahead of the industry.”
Nigel is looking to introduce new products and export to more countries. He recently launched products in Japan, Taiwan and the UK, with more countries to follow.
“I don’t want to retire – I love my work too much,” he says. “I believe the holy grail is finding a balance and seeking harmony between work, play and hobbies.”
If you ask us, he’s found it!
See the fantastic range of Maine Beach products.
To learn more about how Accru Harris Orchard can assist you and your business, contact us today.