Mary Jane Innes was born in Wales but immigrated to New Zealand in 1870. After marrying husband Charles, the couple worked together in a brewery. Charles was the brewer and Mary Jane was the business manager. After Charles Innes was declared bankrupt in 1888, Mary Jane took over the management of the Te Awamutu Brewery. A year later she took over Waikato Brewery as well.
As a female living in the late 19th century, Mary Jane was never publicly acknowledged as the business owner. But she went on to create a soda and bottling factory, and her forward thinking laid the foundations for Waikato Breweries and also for soft drink giant Oasis Industries now New Zealand's largest bottling company.