One of my favourite summer tipples has to be a chilled, refreshing glass of New Zealand’s finest sauvignon blanc – Cloudy Bay. But the crisp citrus notes that dance on the tongue have always struck me to be at odds with the dark and mysterious name. What lies behind the mist in that hidden cove? What was it about the majestic dark cloud formations that inspired Captain Cook to step ashore back in 1770 and name that stretch of coastline? 

Much like the trademark of the world-renowned wine estate, my interviewee this week also harbours a natural, effortless beauty. She is intriguingly mysterious, cloaked in a sober serenity and despite the tempestuous seas of modern life, she is always the calm cove, a safe place to shelter from the storm; someone where you can always find protection, solitude and peace.

Born in New Zealand into a mixed race family, Tenille Juno, had a less-than-ordinary start in life from the get-go.  Her Mum is indigenous Māori and her Dad is European-origin white New Zealander, bringing together a fascinating fusion of different races, cultures and traditions. Back in the 1970s this atypical pairing ruffled a few feathers but love cares not for creed or colour and three years later Tenille was born. She was just a toddler when the family upped sticks and relocated to neighbouring Australia. Four years later her brother was born, in the desert, where her father was working down the mines. Her parents were quite the nomads, regularly moving around Australia from “job to job, pay check to pay check”. They did what they could wherever they could, and this positive attitude of hard work and never giving up gradually became the foundation for Tenille’s own meticulous work ethic.

Her mother’s Māori heritage was a strong influence, perhaps even more so today as an adult. With its origins in Eastern Polynesian civilisation, Māori culture forms a distinctive part of New Zealand society. It’s a culture rich in values, traditions, customs and practices where spirituality runs deep. Community care and sacred power are at its core.

With her Malteser eyes glinting in the sun and her luscious, dark hair prettily framing her face, Tenille tells me that her Māori roots “don’t define me but they’re always by my side.” This pensive, graceful, ultra-feminine soul draws endlessly on the teachings from her mother; now embodied in her own profound sense of spirituality, her earthly grounding and fearless, warrior-like strength. Inevitably, where there’s yin there’s always yang, and on the flip side of the parental teachings, her Dad brought fun and lightness, encouraged her to relax more, to let go but to always speak her truth. What a heady mix!

As with all young souls searching for their truth, the beginning it wasn’t always easy. Being a young girl from an ethnic background, softly-spoken Tenille often felt like she “never really had a voice” and could often be found day-dreaming or embarking on solitary walks. She would retreat into her own inner world, because she didn’t really know how or where to fit into the external one. It wasn’t all head-in-the-clouds and shy and retiring however, in the defense of others the protective lioness emerged and well and truly roared! No doubt her ancestral guardian angels have a lot to do with her occasional warrior-like qualities!

Named after her family home in Kangaroo Point, Australia, 21 Quinton is the name of Tenille’s interior design business in Monaco. The address holds many happy memories of her childhood days; her parent’s open door policy, the whole pub coming to the house after closing time every Friday night, plenty of singing, dancing and guitar playing, everyone, in fact, playing their part in shaping the lady she is today.

Whilst very much dancing to her own Haka, Tenille felt a rush of independence calling her from the tender age of 16. Her life journey led her from Australia to Asia to the UK and finally, here, to Monaco.  Myriad mini personas along the way included time as an office temp, beating down chicken breasts in a burger joint, bartending in various hip and trendy underground nightclubs across Australia, working for a mortgage broker and as a settlement clerk for one of Australia’s largest banks. From her mid twenties this explorer already knew she wanted to travel far and wide and every penny she saved went towards achieving that goal. A 2005 trip to Asia led on to her and her then boyfriend eloping to India where they married. In line with her world travel plans, they then moved to London to set up home together. Using her intellect and determination to succeed once more, Tenille found a great job working for a top bank, before becoming a mum to two boys.

When their travel visas were nearing expiration, the decision had to be made whether to go back home to Australia or to move elsewhere. As for many of us, Monaco was an attractive option and became the preferred choice. After moving here, the first few years were spent helping to support, develop and grow her husband’s very successful outdoor fitness business, alongside raising the children.

When Tenille first arrived in Monaco in 2012 she describes it as “overwhelming” and “intimidating”. She felt like she’d walked into a land where everyone was externally beautiful and it took her a long time to find her voice.  What she found comforting was the group of people she quickly connected with, her “tribe”. Being a Mum helped enormously as it offered instant connections. Within this secure circle she was finally able to relax and, slowly the shell opened to reveal the jewels within. If you ask her close friends they’ll tell you all about her kindness, honesty, integrity and the sprinkling of joy she spreads on whomever she meets.

During her global travels, Tenille started to expand her naturally stylish eye for design, textures and architecture. She’d always loved art at school but it had yet to ignite her passion. Her transition into interior design happened by chance when a friend asked her to help sell some of her furniture since she was leaving Monaco. Tenille quickly identified a market for selling and buying furniture and set up her first business called T’s Furniture Exchange. This ultimately opened beautiful doors into some gorgeously interior-designed homes in Monaco and the surrounds. It also gave her an insight into how to maximize space within small envelopes, as is the case in many a Monaco apartment! In 2017 she launched 21 Quinton and she’s been head-down, go-getting unstoppable ever since. Her style is always evolving as she grows in boldness and creativity, mixing up contemporary with vintage and weaving in colour and patterns wherever she can. Being eco-conscious, every project is brought to life using natural, organic and sustainable materials. And it goes without saying, that you’ll see unique touches of traditional Māori artwork here and there too.

By her own admission, the Tenille before me today is a very different person to the one that first arrived in Monaco ten years ago. Although her own family live 15,000 kilometres away, her close friends have become her surrogate family and without them she would likely have left MC a long time ago. She’s proven herself to be a true warrior in all senses; now a single Mum of two teenage boys and running her own successful business in Monaco. She’s truly found her voice, and, as she confidently says, “Monaco is the land of opportunity if you’re brave enough to go out and seize it.” 

I couldn’t agree more. With that in mind, let’s pour ourselves a glass of chilled Cloudy Bay and say cheers to that.