Andrea Cummerfield is the founder of online kids' store The Boy's Store, and is a distributor of Pea Pods cloth nappies. She and her partner Andrew Nalder moved from Auckland to Tauranga with their two children in December last year.
Why did you make the move from Auckland to Tauranga?
Andrea: It was for lifestyle reasons. We've got two young kids and we love Auckland but it's busy and expensive. I quit my job in March last year to be fully self-employed, and around the middle of last year Andrew wanted to do the same thing. But while we were still in Auckland and tied to an Auckland mortgage it just wasn't feasible. Moving down here gave us options to reset, and give what we wanted to do from a business perspective a go.
Why Tauranga in particular?
Andrea: We were looking for a nice beachy place to live, and the other area we would have been considering was somewhere like Hawke's Bay. But Tauranga felt a bit closer to our friends and family who are still in Auckland, and we thought we'd still get people coming down to visit us. This is just such a beautiful area.
Andrew: From a commercial perspective, you've got the second largest port in the country here, a lot of agricultural diversity and more generally an economy that's pumping along.
With growth comes commercial opportunity, but one thing that I think Aucklanders coming down here have to be aware of is there aren't a lot of jobs, particularly at senior levels. That's why starting your own business is a good option.
What business opportunities are you exploring in your new location?
Andrew: I had a digital printing business that I built up over 14 years, which eventually employed more than 50 staff. I sold that two-and-a-half years ago to a much bigger company, and while I was working out my time with that larger firm I had the opportunity to run a digital advertising agency. That area really excited me, because I could see there was such potential in that digital market, so when I got to Tauranga I thought I would try to use my knowledge experience to try and help some smaller companies.
My new company, What the Heck, is a web design business and has just been going for a month-and-a-half, so it's very much a startup. But I've formed a strategic partnership with a great SEO business in Tauranga, and we've effectively been able to approach their clients with the idea of making their websites mobile friendly and upgrading them to a more modern look. It's been a relatively straightforward process in that we've had a 100 percent strike rate from everyone we've talked to so far.
Another benefit of operating here is you can keep your infrastructure costs so much lower, and because you can do that you can offer much better value to a client. One thing I'd like to do is create more of a retail presence for the web design world - a place where you can sit down with someone, quickly get together some ideas and get going on a project without a whole lot of drama. I think this would be a good market for us to experiment with something like that.
What changes have arisen with your businesses as a result of the move Andrea?
Andrea: Because my existing businesses were online, the process of relocating them was relatively easy, and seamless from a customer perspective. But since coming here I've also purchased a kids' retail store, Cherish Child, at Mount Maunganui, with the aim that it will allow me to grow The Boy's Store customer base and the brands I can take on.
I wasn't prepared to do the whole bricks-and-mortar scenario in Auckland, especially with two young children, because it would have been a lot more work. But here the pace of life is way more relaxed - people don't expect you to be open every hour of the weekend - and the rents are so much cheaper. It's given me the opportunity to gauge how this kind of store would serve the market in a way that's much less risky, because it's in a smaller market with smaller costs.
What advice do you have for others looking to make a similar move?
Andrew: When you move towns you can lose your support network of friends and family so you have to think long and hard about that. Also, shifting from a big city to a smaller one can be a bit of a culture shock. You can't come to a smaller centre and expect to have the best restaurants, cafes and entertainment options on your doorstep, but if you can chill out a bit you'll get rid of the Auckland bollocks and get into a new groove.
Andrea: You also need to recognise that the local market may be different to where you've come from so you need to do your research to make sure the business idea you're proposing is going to work in the local market.