Hi, I’m Simon. My wife Shannon and I have shared a dream for some time now about setting up a business together, doing something we both love and feel passionate about - vegan food! Up until recently, it’s been just that. A dream. Something that we’d get round to doing eventually, but ‘eventually’ never quite seemed within reach...
Our ambitions were simple enough. Set up a mobile vegan food truck. Have a place on the weekend Farmer’s Market. Offer delicious vegan food to the public and prove that vegans don’t eat leaves and grass all day! We can enjoy food with as much texture, flavor and ‘yumminess’ as the heartiest of meals that contain meat or dairy. However, when we looked into the cost of buying a trailer to serve food from (and with it a vehicle powerful enough to tow it), getting ourselves certified by the local council and paying for our space at the market, it soon grew apparent that unless we had a lotto win soon, our dream would remain just that. A dream.
Then two weeks ago, something magical happened. One of those events that redefines one’s ambitions, resurrects old desires and suddenly makes the insurmountable seem much easier to achieve than ever before. It was called the ‘ PopUp Business School Aotearoa ’. A free course hosted by the amazing Tony Henderson-Newport with his trusty team consisting of Hemi, Maria and Arzoo. Over two incredible weeks, they shared their knowledge, passion and incredible energy and taught us all about what setting up a new business would involve. We had guest speakers who were lawyers, accountants and business entrepreneurs themselves, all sharing incredible stories and offering real advice about what to do and what not to do. But the real eye opener for me was the group. The energy. So many wonderful people with incredible ideas and a genuine desire to make it work and help each other in the process.
We’ve just had our first ‘post-graduation’ meeting and I’m delighted to say that the energy is still there, as is the community. In the Maori language, ‘whanau’ means ‘extended family’. I feel that we’ve got a real whanau here in little old Gisborne. It’s a town that functions in it’s own way and so do the people here. It’s not so much about sending emails and hooking up on Twitter. It’s about getting out there, speaking to each other, shaking hands and making genuine, real connections, and I love that!
So what does the future now hold? Well, time will tell. But what I know for certain is that if you asked me three weeks ago how close we were to acquiring our dreams, I would have asked you how far it is to the stars...
And now? Well, only the sky is the limit!