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Coraleigh Parker has three little businesses on the go. When she's not serving coffee she's busy nurturing flowers and designing botanical projects
Name: Coraleigh Parker
Job title: Girl boss
Company: Pickled Whimsy
How long worked here: Eight years

What does your job involve?
I am an owner operator, with my partner, of a very small business which dabbles in botanical styling, kokedama mainly. We have a foraging meadow of cut flowers and veges, and we also have a mobile cafe.

And your other businesses?
Meadow Gathered is a spray-free, low-impact meadow of flowers I grow from seed. Florists come and forage their own flowers as they need them. We are still experimenting with what this little business will eventually look like. We may offer more grown-to-order flowers. We are just about to plant our winter vegetables, cabbage mainly for our sauerkraut.

Hi Ho Silver is our mobile cafe which we run at the Wairoa Reserve just on the north side of Bethlehem. We sell organic fair trade coffee and handmade pies. We sell our flowers and veges plus a few local specialties like Reed avocado. We are trying to keep the business as low impact as possible so we take all our cups and lids home and compost them back on to the flower patch.


Pickled Whimsy started out as a terrarium hobby and got out of control. I started making kokedama which are a type of bonsai where the root ball of the plant is contained within moss and twine. Why did you get into this profession? I previously worked in an office but wanted to be more available for my son when he started school. I've always been very outdoors oriented so it was natural for me to become interested in a plant-based hobby.

What do you like about your job the most?
I love the variety of my job. I start my day serving coffee to my locals and always have a good laugh and hear a few good yarns. I have daily meetings with my meadow manager to keep things on track at the meadow. So I spend a bit of time each day planning crops and compost. Then I spend some time working on design projects for Pickled Whimsy.

What's the most challenging aspect of your role?
Converting old-fashioned rural blokes to drinking a barista blend of organic raw nut milk instead of dairy! It's easy to convert people to coconut sugar, but we are very dairy dependent in New Zealand.

What's your proudest work moment?
I have recently written a book on kokedama. My proudest moment was when I opened my box of foreign edition books and discovered it had been translated into not two, but five additional languages. I was only told it was going to be put into French and German but it was also translated into Russian, Spanish and Danish.

What training/experience have you had to prepare for your role?
I studied at Waikato University for several years towards a business management degree, but didn't actually complete it. I have one paper to go. Ridiculous, I know. I studied marketing and finance, but the content started to feel a bit academic and arbitrary. Less like learning and more like dogmatic training. I guess studying as an adult I took exception to being told my values regarding the planet or looking after each other were always going to be secondary to profit.

What's the best piece of career advice you've received?
There is no guy wandering around with golden tickets looking for you. If you want something, the fastest way to get it is to work bloody hard. If you are working bloody hard but you aren't happy, figure out why and change it. Do what feels right for you.

What's the most important thing your current role has taught you?
The effort it takes to bring a smile to someone's face is always worth it and always comes back to you tenfold.