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INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN – the birth of Verve magazine

I love meeting inspirational women and I was thrilled to meet two of Auckland’s most inspirational ladies for a podcast interview recently. Here is their story and the story behind Verve magazine, the magazine they started 10 years ago. You can also listen to the full podcast interview here.

When Fran Ninow met Jude Mitchell 10 years ago, neither woman could foresee where that meeting would lead them.

The women were strangers to each other but introduced by a mutual friend who saw a strength and determination in the two women which he recognised, that when combined would strengthen and lead to great things. Indeed he was right.

Jude Mitchell, a mother of 3 children (all now grown up) had just come out of a 25 year marriage. Her divorce meant that she had little choice but to continue to work in order to ensure her and the children were looked after. She had already run and owned a string of businesses over the year, including businesses in retail, manufacturing, property and even a dating agency. When she met Fran, her life was at a crossroads.

Fran too had been highly successful in business, teaching, travel, fashion and health. She too stood at that same crossroads and was wondering which direction to travel to next when a friend introduced her to Jude.

Despite having no experience in publishing, the women discovered a common love of aesthetics and magazines. They also quickly realised that they would be able to start up a magazine with very little investment. They borrowed just $10,000 NZ and put their determination to the test, embarking on a publishing adventure. They initially put together newsletters to promote local companies in reputable and established areas of Auckland. They grew this business through cold calls and sheer determination. Simple press releases soon became articulate and well-written articles which was an indication of evolving to suit a changing and more sophisticated readership. The ‘little magazine that could’ then grew to encompass more and more older and established areas finally resulting in the glossy publication you see today in households, cafes, restaurants and shops in Auckland’s most prestigious suburbs. Verve was born.

Today, through their strength, determination, passion and drive, Fran Ninow and Jude Mitchell are now joint publishers and editors of one of Auckland’s most successful glossy magazines.

Verve magazine is distributed in Auckland’s select suburbs. Its mantra is to celebrate life in one of the world’s most liveable cities. The magazine has just celebrated its 10th anniversary. This is no mean feat in the publishing industry, so congratulations to these two beautiful and passionate women.

I asked them for any last minute tips and advice. Both of them cite determination and passion as key. Jude says:

“My advice would be if you have an idea –  pursue it!  Never ever be frightened of failure as it leads to you learning so much.  Just get up and get going again!    Buy yourself a beautiful journal and write down your ideas and they come into your head – they will eventuate if you want them too!    Don’t be frightened, JUST DO IT! If you are thriving your children will thrive too!” 

“I would say to all those amazing Mums out there they just need to love and enjoy their children.    Life can work in very strange ways and some of us never envisaged that we would separate – and that life may be challenging.  You just rise to the challenge and have a wonderful positive attitude.”

 {Verve: vigour and spirit or enthusiasm. Of late 17th century origin from French, ‘vigour’}

Happy 10-year-anniversary to Verve and thank you to Fran Ninow and Jude Mitchell


Written by

Jacqui Lockington is a working mum. Jacqui works full-time for an advertising agency in New Zealand and juggles life at work with being mum to two young children, Jack and Sasha. Jacqui is married to John and has published her first book with co-author, Nat - If Only They'd Told Me. She does public speaking and regularly blogs and records podcasts. Jacqui trained in journalism in London and worked in radio, newspapers, public relations and advertising before moving to New Zealand where she currently lives with her family. You can contact Jacqui at