Small Business: Solo acts - Joanne Edwards

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Joanne Edwards, co-founder of Kiwigarden.
Joanne Edwards, co-founder of Kiwigarden.

Joanne Edwards, co-founder of Kiwigarden with husband Taine Randall. Edwards runs the business day to day.

Please describe your business and how long you have been running it

Our business was born out of a passion to make better quality lunchboxes for Kiwis. The Kiwigarden freeze-dried snack range is about putting back the goodness of our great country's gardens, orchards and farms into Kiwi lunchboxes. Kiwigarden products are based on our kids' favourites and include fruit, vegetables and yoghurt. The goodness of the raw product is retained and we have just removed the water. It came about because we had commandeered my father's freeze drier and had been making snacks for our kids' lunches for a couple of years. Their mates loved them too so last year we decided to launch commercially.

What did you do before this?

I was a commercial lawyer.

What does your working week like?

It varies and depends on what the focus is for that week. Some weeks are crazy when you are travelling as you are basically working all waking hours. Other weeks you spend fighting and sometimes lighting fires and don't get to do the daily tasks. It sometimes really chaotic and I'm always juggling - probably like most other New Zealand mothers.

What is December like for you?

Let's just say Christmas shopping has been on the back burner. December has been really busy which is great for a growing business.

Do you manage a holiday during the year?

We haven't this year. We usually try to get away for some winter sun or skiing but this year there seems to have been so much to do that it has been all hands to the pump.

How do you manage a break at Christmas?

We're moving Kiwigarden HQ to the beach which is half an hour from town so we'll be checking emails and anything requiring attention from there. In the supermarket lunchbox aisle it tends to be the quiet time of year so we are hoping for it to be relatively calm.

Do you have an accountant who helps you with cashflow?

Yes, me. I know where every cent is at any one time. As anyone who has ever started a business knows, we are on the ground and moving fast.

Why does working on your own suit you? What do you like about it?

It is an amazing feeling to work towards something you are passionate about in an area you feel you can make a difference. I enjoy having to roll up my sleeves and have a go at a multitude of tasks that you may or may not know much about - there is certainly none of that "just another day at the office" tedium.

What don't you like about it?

We are new to the FMCG industry so it has been a steep learning curve for us. This has been positive as we developed our products from what we want as consumers. However it has been interesting getting to know the ins and outs of a very competitive industry which is at times challenging but rewarding.

Is there a chance you will get even busier as the business grows and take on new staff?

Yes it certainly looks that way. People love our products which is really rewarding and I feel good about giving them something directly from our wonderful gardens. We are increasing production and we are talking to people about exporting - very exciting times.

Any tips to others starting out about how to stay sane working as a one man / woman band?

Start small, put your toe in the market to gauge interest, take each day as it comes and work with really good people that you like and trust.

- NZ Herald

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