Dr. Nona International was founded on August 23rd, 1994, on the front porch of Dr. Nona Kuchina and Michael Shneerson. The integral event that inspired this moment on the porch had occurred several months earlier. While working as a professor at Tel Aviv University, Dr. Nona based her research on studies by which contrary to popular belief, there is life in the Dead Sea: the Archaebacteria. This sensational discovery led her to realize her vision of producing medical cosmetic products and food supplements.
The opportunity to create products that contain life emanating from the Dead Sea ignited a passion that engulfed Dr. Nona and Michael. The couple immediately got started carrying out their dream, as Michael began raising money and Dr. Nona established a team of scientists, pharmacists and lab technicians, who too were new immigrants to Israel from Russia. The team engaged in rigorous research and development while Michael took out a series of loans to raise the necessary capital. Several months later, the company’s first four products were ready.
Despite this impressive achievement, the beginning was rough. It was soon clear that the money that had been raised was insufficient to support the company’s expanding needs. In addition, the new products received a chilly reception from Dr. Nona’s university colleagues and the couple’s own family, who would not lend them additional funds and counseled them to move on. Dr. Nona left her university job and invested her own compensation in the newly founded company and Michael found new investors who believed in their vision. Even this was not enough, and they had to move into a rented apartment after selling their apartment and car.
There were great risks involved. Managing the research team and acquiring the needed equipment and materials proved very costly. The Israeli Health Ministry’s permits were delayed, creating even more difficulties. Nevertheless, Dr. Nona pursued her research and development work while Michael devised a unique distribution plan. In order to allow more people to enjoy their products, the couple chose the MLM distribution concept of selling their products through a network of independent distributers. Seeing that the products piqued the interest of Israeli immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Michael realized the critical role they would play in the company’s future.
Following the fall of the Iron Curtain and the ensuing fresh winds of freedom, demand for foreign products in Russia was steadily increasing.Michael understood that the immigrants who had left the Soviet Union for Israel in the 1990s were the best ambassadors for the Dr. Nona products in Russia and its neighboring countries. The first generation of distributers was soon flying to Russia with suitcases full of these new products.
Not long after, it was clear that Dr. Nona International was a success story. The production lines never stopped working and the company’s products competed with those produced by multi-national corporations. The Dr. Nona brand became a household name, and Dr. Nona herself became a sought after speaker and guest on Russian television and radio. After numerous successful years, everything changed in 1998.
Facing an economic crisis in 1998, Russian President Boris Yeltsin declared that Russia would be unable to pay its debts. The government stopped paying salaries, pensions and debts to suppliers. Numerous companies collapsed, as did the entire middle class, which instantly fell below the poverty line. Within several weeks after Yeltsin’s announcement, sales of Dr. Nona products plummeted from $2.5 million to $300,000, large orders were cancelled, products began piling up in warehouses and the factory was forced to halt production.
Dr. Nona’s and Michael’s unwavering confidence in themselves and their work allowed them to quickly make a series of brave decisions. The professionalism, integrity and generosity they had imparted to their distributors and suppliers from the beginning enabled the couple to overcome these challenges. Vowing to save the company and meet all their financial obligations, they secured the trust of all their partners. Relying solely on their own equity and without taking on any more loans, the couple ensured that the company survived this rough period. Within a few short months, new orders began streaming in. Soon after, all of Dr. Nona’s distributors and suppliers received all the money owed to them, to the last cent.
1999 began with a series of festive events marking the fifth anniversary of Dr. Nona International. Orders were increasing and the company started operating outside of Russia as well. The first branch outside Russia was opened in the Ukraine, followed by others in numerous parts of the world. As the reach of the company expanded, so did its product lines, with the company now offering 20 products.
This tremendous success extended into the new millennium. Word of the life force from the Dead Sea spread and the number of distributors was in the tens of thousands. Dr. Nona and Michael, who had left the Soviet Union only two decades earlier, now returned as winners.
During the 2008 global financial crisis, Dr. Nona International was once again forced to weather an economic storm. For the second time since its inception, Dr. Nona and Michael were forced to ask the company staff and suppliers to prove their faith in the couple’s ability to steer the company to safety. While many global markets reacted with hysteria, everyone around Dr. Nona and Michael chose to reinforce their confidence in the couple and their vision. When the crisis passed, it turned out they had made the right decision.
Today, more then two decades after Dr. Nona International was first conceived on the couple’s front porch, it operates in over 40 countries worldwide, working through a network of 300,000 distributors. The company’s products, now totaling close to 50, have changed the lives of millions of people. Dr. Nona and Michael, together with their daughter Ruth, now the company’s CEO, at their side, continue to develop new generations of products and spread the word of Dr. Nona’s health and beauty products to new global markets.