Recyclable drinkware firm Govino is based in Wanaka. Managing director Prue Kane talks taking on an established business and the greatest lessons she's learnt.

Describe your business
Govino creates reusable and recyclable drinkware which is designed for the outdoor lifestyle. The products are made in the US and are ideal for Kiwi summers of boating, beaches and all things outdoors.

Govino New Zealand is the wholesaler of the Govino range and we distribute throughout New Zealand and Australia to the retail, hospitality and event sectors.

How did you get involved with the brand?

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I took over the New Zealand distribution of Govino three and a half years ago, and have recently expanded that into Australia. I took over after the business had been running for about two and half years.

How did the opportunity to take over the business come about?

I was living in Wanaka at the time, having just moved home from Australia, and was looking for a new opportunity.

Wanaka is the epitome of Kiwi lifestyle, with all the outdoor activities, and I came across the Govino brand.

The opportunity came up to take over the New Zealand distribution through someone I knew and it went from there.

How many team member does Govino New Zealand have?

It's just me, but I'm really lucky to work with some fantastic people and brands, which makes things easier. The designing of the products is done by head office in the US and the products are manufactured there as well.

GoVino New Zealand managing director Prue Kane.
GoVino New Zealand managing director Prue Kane.

How many products in the range and how much do they cost?

We have five styles of products; red wine glass, white wine glass, champagne flute, beer glass and the decanter. We have them both as a domestic dishwasher-safe range and in a hospitality grade range as well.

Our most popular product is the hero red wine glass which is actually our original product.

It has won several design awards including the Good Design Award in 2010, and the International Design Excellence Award Silver in 2010 for its seamless design and ergonomic thumb notch.

The 'glass' was specifically designed for the drinking of wine, for the correct swirling of wine, and to project aromas. We sell product through wineries and specialty food and design stores.

What has been the biggest challenge in running Govino?

There's lots of challenges but the hardest part, initially, was coming to grips with the fact that to move forward you can't really wait for everything to be perfect. I find that activity breeds activity, so getting bogged down trying to perfect everything or even waiting for perfect timing can be quite detrimental.

Sometimes you need to be brave enough to risk making mistakes.

It gives you the ability to work out how to do things differently and understand why certain things don't work. Not every product will be for every person so working out who you're target market is the way forward.

What does a 'typical day' look like for you?

I don't really have a routine as such, apart from morning coffee, but throughout the day I process retail and web orders, as well as manage branded jobs for events and corporates. Logistics, stock management and forecasting, accounts need to be done and then I spend some time on business development, marketing and promotion.

Do something you can feel proud of, and work with people who share the same values as you do.

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I'm currently looking to expand the retailer network in Australia, and improve my social media strategy. I recently did a workshop with Studio Home Online, which gave a great framework for approaching and coordinating the intimidating beast that is social media.

What's the best thing about running Govino?

I feel very lucky to be able to live in Wanaka and run a business from here.

There are lots of small businesses operating in Wanaka so it's a really good community to network with. The other really good thing about running a business is the constant learning. You have to be across all facets of the business which can be a little bit daunting at times, but it's a really fascinating journey.

What are your long term plans for the business?

At the moment the focus is on continuing to grow the New Zealand market. Having just taken over Australia, that's a big focus at the moment, as well.

The Govino product range. Photo / Camilla Rutherford Photography
The Govino product range. Photo / Camilla Rutherford Photography

Australia has really good knowledge in the event brand sector and I'm really trying to grow that retail market over there.

In five to 10 years' time I'd love to see all New Zealand events using reusable cups to reduce waste from single-use cups. Govino NZ is working towards continuing to grow throughout New Zealand and Australia with the potential to expand from there. We'll continue to work with the US on developing products that enhance the Kiwi lifestyle, with an eye for new products that complement current offerings.

What advice do you give to others wanting to start a business?

Do something you can feel proud of, and work with people who share the same values as you do.

Choosing who you work with really dictates how much you enjoy your work.