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What Iso taught us: 5 NZ businesswomen share their lockdown experiences

Ineke Meredith

Following an unprecedented seven weeks of living in lockdown, we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel as we transition into alert level 2. As important as it is to look to the future, there is value in looking back and reflecting on this unusual ride. We hear from five women in business who share their lockdown experiences.

Rachael Challinor
Owner of People Like Us

I’ve found the forced slow-down has allowed me to spend more time teaching my two children Dash, 13 and Scout, 10. Although, I have learned I would make a terrible school teacher! Some really simple things often get overlooked in our busy lives like cooking a meal from scratch, gardening, playing cards, and even washing a car. I’ve also loved living in my activewear from People Like Us.

I’ve missed seeing my friends and socialising the most and, I didn’t realise how much I loved Japanese food until I had to go without for weeks. This experience has definitely reinforced the notion to never take anything for granted – health, wealth or happiness.

What I’m most looking forward to in level 2 is a visit to the hairdresser as I have to admit, I’m in desperate need of a haircut and colour! I also can’t wait to see my friends and family in Australia when that can happen.

Alicia Tsi
Founder & Designer at Esse

Looking back, I’ve liked being able to slow down and find more time to reflect and recalibrate. This has allowed me to make plans for the business and find quality time to create and work on new designs. I have struggled with the feeling of solitude and being far away from family and friends. I don’t think I’ve craved for this much human connection before. It was quite hard at first going from having long and busy days prior to lockdown, to having all the time in the world. I went into lockdown trying to fill my days with doing. It was initially really hard to be still and just, be.

I realised that we don’t need that much ‘stuff’ in our lives. The experience felt very much like ‘a quarantine of consumption’ as trend forecaster Li Edelkoort puts it. Even as a person who has been trying to live mindfully, I found myself re- assessing the things I needed in my life, and stripping down to the bare necessities. I also learned that it’s ok to be unproductive. There have been days where I encounter bursts of productivity and others where I’m just distracted. This experience has reminded me that it’s ok to slow down and do nothing at all.

What I’ve learnt about myself is that I’m very much a do-er. The thought of not having anything to do and not filling my days with tasks was quite daunting, and I had to learn how to find a balance between taking a break and trying to find things to do. My coping mechanism was coming up with a schedule and filling it, even with the most random things like ‘watch a movie’, and that helped me to set aside time to rest.

In level 2, I’m looking forward to catching up with loved ones in person and shooting Esse’s new capsules.

Lizzi Whaley
CEO of Spaceworks Design Group

Since being at home and not in the office, I have enjoyed having the ability to run my day how best suits me. I can do a bit of work, a bit of housework, some exercise, and then back to work again. I can’t do that in the office. What I have disliked about the experience is being told I’m not allowed to do something. I always want the piece of cake I’m told I can’t have. What I’ve really found the hardest, is not seeing my friends, giving them a hug, and having great belly laughs together.

I’ve realised I have an incredible team who are working hard to support each other, me, and the business. The importance of team has never been more important to me. And team is applicable to both work and personal life. Work wise, my team is my colleagues. Personally, it’s my friend and family group. And on a larger scale, NZ working as a team (the majority of us) to get through this.

I have learned that I am resilient, and my business is a reflection of where I am at. If I’m strong and lead well then that resonates through the whole team and the business. I think this lockdown has also taught me, and I’ve seen many others say the same, that life doesn’t need to be as complex, that simple is still fun and simple is easy. I’ve had an equally enjoyable and satisfying life and I’ve cooked more and spent less money. Both in the business and personally, spending decreased with more awareness and understanding of the value.

In level 2, I’m most looking forward to increasing my bubble and supporting other local businesses.

Trish Peng
Couture Evening & Bridal Gown Designer

During lockdown, I have enjoyed simply having more time. Whether it was spending more time with my loved ones or having the extra hours to work on the business, rather than in the business. I have been able to revamp the website and design the next collection.

The hardest thing about going into lockdown though, was having to close the doors to my new flagship store, that had just opened 3 weeks earlier. Now we’re in level 2, I’m looking forward to welcoming our current and new brides- to-be into the new store!

As I am such a social person, I did find it difficult to limit my bubble. I can’t wait to catch up with loved ones and for our local restaurants and bars to reopen soon. The experience has instilled in me that you can’t take the small things for granted. From now on I will appreciate the freedom of being able to travel, dine in restaurants and simply getting a coffee. In level 2, it will be great to be able to support more local businesses in different industries. Lockdown has also made me really appreciate being Kiwi. Being a small isolated country, we were able to act fast and stop the spread of Covid-19.

Despite my excitement for bars and restaurants to reopen, I’ve learnt that I’m not actually a bad cook. I think since lockdown started I have cooked around 120 meals. I didn’t realise I knew so many recipes!

Ineke Meredith
CEO of The Fur Love & Oncoplastic Breast & General Surgeon

I love that I got to spend time with my son and discover just how amazing he is. We haven’t spent more than 3 weeks together since 2017. He is 16 years old, and has been boarding since he was 13 years. He is self-taught fluent in Japanese. He is an amazing artist. And he is going places. Look out for him – Ullrich von Reiche.

During lockdown, I learned that I need contact with humans. I’ve also realised that there is a lot to be gained in stillness. I love life on the go. Always. I always love to be moving and learning and doing. But it means that if you are trying to do so many things at once, you spend a lot of time getting from one place to another, mentally and physically. Of course with the lockdown, it has meant that I have had to stop, but we have the technology now to achieve a lot without catching a plane, or spending time in traffic. I was able to put more time into many things I had kept on the side for a while.

One thing I haven’t enjoyed about the experience is being uncertain of when I will travel to Paris again. Moving back down the alert levels I am looking forward to, besides the plane, being in the sky again and being closer to the day I don’t have to stand 2 metres away from people.

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