Reply To: When markets closed we where deep in negotiations to bring investors into our business we are a Natural Skin Care and Fragrance business. As of today one has pulled back as their market was Asia and the other is in wait and see what happens mode having verbally agreed in January to commit.I am going to be brutally honest. It had been a hard year before I swallowed my pride and went back to working the night markets around Auckland in November. This swallowing of pride was at the encouragement of good friends and that my wife is due to have our first baby in early June and I needed to do something other than do what was failing which was work online with no budget.We had always had the framework to build a solid business but never the fuel in the engine to get it to where it needed to be and had good interest from industry leading business to work with us before they sold.Before the shutdown of events and markets started happening in March we were starting to make progress and were feeling confident with what 2020 was presenting for us both domestically and internationally. Post lockdown we have driven off a cliff with 2 or 3 sales. We got consent to sell some not all of our products as essential service last Thursday but have been nervous to start marketing due to negative reactions we have seen with other companies in the same category.In the last 3 weeks pivoted to an area I have good knowledge and expertise in the food sector and have seen building demand domestically and internationally for specific Ketogenic  products and both me and our business partner have significantly more experience and ability to execute at scale. We started working on this 18 months ago while my biz partner was living in the USA running another Ketogenic food business he owns there. The food sector is where I cut my business teeth first bringing Virgin Coconut Oil into New Zealand in 2012 from Papua New Guinea.I have two questions 1. How do we communicate we are open as an essential business with out blowing a hole in the side of our business by looking opportunistic. We sell toiletries and skincare so fit with in category. We have limited runway with Govt wage subsidy barley touching the sides though we are grateful for it  no end and my wife starting maternity leave from her job mid May. Her wage pays our rent and keeps our lights on.2.Is it worth it or should we use the opportunity to pivot into a sector we know has fast growth , low to no cost of entry due to existing market relationships and demand and come back pick up the pieces when we have the capital to fund the growth. Or can we run both concurrently? 

Kia ora John,

Thank you for your wisdom and advice. I grew up in the far north in Whangaruru and whakapapa to Ngati Kuri in the far north from a small village called Te Hapua.

My first job was pruning pine trees, selling firewood and watermelons selling them on the side of the road to batch owners on holiday in Whangaruru in summer and hay bailing for rugby coaches and working in hospitality cooking before falling out of school midway through 1999 ending up with a Diploma in Cultural Tourism and Travel and Bachelor of Maori Development from AUT.

I worked at the Ministry of Maori Development Te Puni Kokiri, holding the youth and education portfolio for Auckland from early 2005 to to 2011 working in Govt departments from 2003 to 2011, looking after youth portfolio in all those roles.

While working at TPK I started working with my wife’s whanau in PNG from 2009 onwards (after-work-hours) to establish export markets for their agricultural products and supporting family members into study here in NZ and PNG. I left TPK November 2011 to start RoMack Industries Ltd and was then asked August 2012 to be the Vice Chairman of the New Zealand Papua New Guinea Business Council. The PNG Hon. Consulate General, the late Dr Peter Goldsmith, asked me to fill this role which I was in for 4 years.

During this time I also served two years as the Chairman of Crosspower New Zealand, a Youth Services provider that was based in Otara. At the time it was one of the largest un-referred youth service providers in NZ. I volunteered/worked at CrossPower for 12 years.

In 2014 my wife and I partnered with James Ehau and his business Native Enterprises to extend the perfume range he had created by creating a natural skincare range for Native Rituals, using raw ingredients which we sourced from Papua New Guinea. This business went live in April 2015 after a year of research and development.

Throughout this time I have maintained my craft as a Photographer, most recently working for my Iwi Ngati Kuri’s Tourism arm building our digital presence for the Tourism business and creating content/new product development for the various business I am involved with.

James Ehau is cereal entrepreneur futurist if there ever was one. He has had multiple businesses over the years including Native Enterprises, Pure Health Delivered, Ti Tonic and Ketologie in America among other businesses. James hails from the East coast born and raised in Nelson and like me spent his early life chasing the Rugby Ball up and down sidelines around NZ -in his case the USA.

My wife Rebekah is the third partner and keel to my sail full of wind that stops me from tipping over. Rebekah’s Dad is Kiwi and Mum is from PNG. She was born in Port Moresby and raised on Dobu Island in Milne Bay moving to NZ when she was eight with her Mum, Dad and sister in 1988. She is a music specialist of 16 years. She has been teaching for 16 years and has a passion for beauty and trained as a makeup artist through her involvement as a performer. She is currently the Head of a Performing Arts department at a West Auckland High School.