Ottyleah Te Houkamau wanted to set an example to her baby daughter, so she went back to school to start a business.
That decision has now paid off - big time.
The young Hastings woman's business Trio Treats - an online company selling natural lip gloss for people with sensitive skin - won an Excellence Award at NZ's Young Enterprise Scheme national finals in December.
Ottyleah also won the Ministry of Youth Development Award for Resilience.
It's a reality she couldn't have imagined when she left school early for a part-time job and then fell pregnant at 19.
While on maternity leave, a friend told her about Flaxmere College's Teen Parent Unit (TPU).
After giving birth to daughter Avani Te Houkamau-Ronaki in December 2020, she's now finished high school with NCEA level 3, and has become an award-winning entrepreneur.
"I wanted to set a example for my daughter," she told Hawke's Bay Today. "I can't expect her to finish level 3 when I couldn't myself."
The TPU at Flaxmere College meant Ottyleah could study while Avani attended the on-site early childhood centre.
It was great to be in a class with other mothers and her teachers had been excellent too, Ottyleah said, particularly in pushing her into the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) that would define her year.
While Ottyleah, who has always had an interest in business, was pregnant, she became captivated by lip gloss videos.
So when the chance came up, she knew what sort of business she wanted to start.
"I already had my idea for my business and was excited that the YES scheme gave me a chance to try out my business idea."
Her idea developed further, Ottyleah deciding she wanted to make a lip care set with natural ingredients for people with sensitive skin, which she appreciates because she has eczema around her mouth.
After months of hard work Trio Treats was created and entered into the scheme.
More than 4700 students from all over New Zealand took part in the YES competition and only 22 of the 1171 companies formed reached the national finals. Ottyleah's Trio Treats was among them.
In the past regional winners would be invited to Wellington to pitch head to head; however, this year, the event was moved online.
Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce hosted a watch party to livestream the event. YES teams, teachers and supporters came together for a night of celebration.
In awarding the Excellence Award and the Ministry of Youth Development Award for Resilience, judges praised Ottyleah for her communication skills, ability to overcome hardship and withstand adversity.
Ottyleah said her daughter is her biggest motivation and creating the business for her baby got her through the challenges she faced during the process.
"Hopefully I'll get her into the business one day," she said.
Ottyleah has now been accepted into the New Zealand School of Travel and Tourism for 2022 and will be doing a two-year course in hotel and hospitality management.
She plans to carry on with her business when she moves to Auckland this year.
"I have some exciting ideas and products to add - my biggest goal for Trio Treats would be to sell worldwide," she said.
"I have always been interested in travel and tourism too. I am very excited to start my diploma, carry on with my business and look after my baby this year."