Can you tell me a bit about Exposure?
The company got started last year through the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES), and this year I'm carrying on running it myself. Growing up on the Taranaki coast I spent most of my summers outdoors, learning pretty quickly how damaging our New Zealand climate can be to our skin and I've seen the first hand effects that sunburn and skin cancer have had on my friends and family. Exposure Band is a reusable UV monitoring wristband calibrated to change colour when the wearer needs to reapply sunscreen.
We see a huge market for Exposure Band and they're aimed at everyone, although primarily young children. Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in New Zealand and we have highest rates in the world. But it's mostly preventable and more than 90 per cent of all skin cancer cases are due to excess sun exposure. I thought that something had to be done about this, so Exposure's core objective is to reduce the probability of sunburn and skin cancer worldwide and to educate and inform people about the effects of sunburn.
What are some of your future plans for the business?
The business has kept growing since YES and we've still got lots of plans ahead. At the moment most of our sales are coming from our website and we're looking for more distributors, because ideally this summer we want to see Exposure Band in pharmacies, outdoor stores, and supermarkets around New Zealand. We're also looking to expand into the overseas market and take the product worldwide. Some of our other plans are to develop a thin Exposure Band designed specifically for adults, and some other product lines like sunscreen and self-tanner.
What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
I never really aspired to become an entrepreneur, but I've always been intrigued by the idea. I think the reason YES appealed to me so much was because I've never really thrived being a conventional worker and saw the chance to run my own business as a chance to do something different. I've always had a sense that I can do certain things better or differently to how they're currently done.
When you run your own business you've got the creative freedom to do things without having to check your decisions back with someone else. I feel it helps me push myself to the limit when I have to make decisions when I don't necessarily have all the information I need, or to get things done with limited resources. I really think the scheme has changed my life, given me direction and helped me grow as a person.
Do you have any entrepreneurial role models or mentors?
Sophia Amoruso. She's the CEO of Nasty Gal, a $100 million-plus online fashion retailer with more than 350 employees, and she got her start selling vintage clothing on eBay. I really admire that she's taken a unique path to success, trusts her instincts, and knows which rules to follow and which to break. Kim Jennings, Tony Pugh, and Eve Kawana-Brown have also been inspirational mentors who have shaped me as an entrepreneur and I don't know where I'd be without them. What are some of your other plans for the future?
At the moment I'm studying marketing and retailing at AUT University. From there I'm planning to do an exchange in San Diego and hopefully get an internship as a marketer or buyer for a fashion brand in Los Angeles after I finish my degree. My ultimate ambition is to be a successful CEO of my own company and make a positive difference in the business world and in people's lives.
What's the most important lesson you've learnt so far on your entrepreneurial journey?
It's that your age and business experience doesn't determine your success. If you're passionate enough about something you can achieve anything. A quote I really like by Mahatma Gandhi says: 'Men often become what they believe themselves to be.
If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it, but when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn't have it in the beginning.' I've also learnt that the worst thing someone can ever say to you in a business deal is no. You can't let rejection scare you, and someone is bound to say yes if you keep trying.