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Carving out change: Ricoh Pandemic Pivot


What do you do when all your business instantly stops? For one Christchurch business, Moko Pounamu, it meant completely changing business models and moving from a wholesaler of beautiful greenstone and bone carvings – to a retailer.

DEAN MORETON IN HIS WORKSHOP

 

The greenstone and bone carving specialists have supplied beautiful New Zealand keepsakes for the country’s souvenir gift shops since the early ‘90s. When the Covid-19 pandemic saw the end of international tourism, founder Deane Moreton knew he had to act quickly to save not just his business – but the jobs of his carvers, sales reps and distribution staff, too.

“When the announcement was made that borders were closing, everything just stopped dead,” he says. “People stopped ordering; the orders just stopped.

“Over lockdown I put a lot of thought into what I was going to do next and how I was going to keep the business going for my staff for the next year or two until the tourists come back.”

And so, a retail website and store were born. Moko Pounamu now sells directly to consumers online and at a bricks and mortar premises on Durham Street.

“There is a lovely sense of patriotism in New Zealand at the moment to support New Zealand businesses and New Zealand-made products, and we have seen that people want a piece of pounamu to give to their family members.

“It’s not just in New Zealand either, though. We have had orders from Switzerland, Hungary, England, Australia and the US.”

The shift has also meant the business has been able to employ more local carvers making more bespoke, one-off pieces.

“We’ve always had production in New Zealand, but one thing we have found is there’s lots of talented carvers who don’t have their own marketing or sales channels, so now we can provide that for them while offering customers beautiful one-off designs.”

Visit the Moko Pounamu retail store at 340 Durham Street, or online at www.mokopounamu.co.nz.

MOKO POUNAMU PRODUCTS

Ricoh Pandemic Pivot

Helping girls thrive: Ricoh Pandemic Pivot


Teenagers – and their parents – will know the anxiety around what comes after high school. So imagine those feelings amplified by a global pandemic which means no OEs, job shortages, and disruption to tertiary education courses.

Marina Shearer and Jo Mathieson

 

Enter Thrive for Girls, a coaching organisation designed to help girls navigate their formal education while gaining confidence, set goals, and plan their pathway forward.

And which brought its launch forward a month in April to help ease such Covid-19-related concerns.

“Today girls are under incredible pressure to perform at their best and make the right choices for the rest of their lives. With the additional challenges of a post Covid-19 economic downturn the choices that girls make for their life are more important than ever before,” says co-founder Marina Shearer.

Based in Waiau, Marina and her co-founder Jo Mathieson run job ready, tertiary ready, exam ready and life ready programmes with the help of a host of other coaches.

The women bring a wealth of life experience and qualifications to Thrive: Marina, a hopeful doctor turned clinical psychologist turned motivational speaker, facilitator and coach, and Jo, a commercial pilot turned corporate high flyer.

“We want the girls enrolled in our programme to emerge into the world confident of who they are and what they want, and knowing what they need to do to achieve their study, work and life goals,” says Jo.

The programmes also include parental involvement and support groups, with scholarships and donations for scholarships, available, too.

Find out more at www.thriveforgirls.com.


Ricoh Pandemic Pivot

 

Masking disruption: Ricoh Pandemic Pivot


Christchurch-based apparel maker, Cactus Outdoor, has added a new product to its repertoire: Locally made face masks which use bacteria-busting natural wool filters.

 

Originally developed for dust protection before Covid-19 made face masks an essential item, Cactus Outdoors have manufactured tens of thousands of the mouth and nose coverings from its Christchurch factory since February.

Co-founder and director, Ben Kepes says the locally made masks have been snapped up.

“We developed the facemask before Covid-19 for our trade customers,” he says.

“When Covid-19 hit we ramped up production to fulfi l the massive demand.” The masks have a woollen filter which exceeds high N95 testing levels.

“Our masks feature a high-tech fi lter made from a specialised woollen fabric.

“To this we add organically grown cotton fabric to provide another layer of protection.”

Despite supply chain issues, Ben says the durable outdoor clothing, backpack and accessory maker’s Essential Service status meant production could continue during Alert Level 4.

“The fact our filter exceeds N95 levels…is made in New Zealand from natural materials, uses our amazing New Zealand-grown wool and is made with love by Kiwi workers has gone down a treat.”

• Good business story? Nominate a local business innovating to overcome Covid-19 challenges at editor@metros.co.nz.

Ricoh Pandemic Pivot

 


 

The Pandemic Pivot: Socially-distanced drinking


An increasingly hygiene conscious world could have been the end of Christchurch man Ian McCormick’s drinking fountain business. Instead, he invented a solution.

 

 

Now, TapWaterWells’ new contactless fountains and water bottle fillers are being installed in schools and public facilities around New Zealand.

The Contactless Hydration Stations are so socially distanced, users can fill their bottle or drink from the faucet with their hands in their pocket, simply stepping on the foot pedal to start the water.

As concerns of COVID-19 hitting our shores grew in March, Ian started fielding calls from his customers – mainly schools – that they were turning off the fountains because they feared the machines required too much hand contact and may transmit the virus.

By the time the country was put into Level 4 lockdown, Ian knew it might be some time before the fountains – which children often put their mouths on – were welcome again.

So, he and his wife Madeleine put on their thinking caps and happened to both come up with the same idea: Pedal-power.

“All I had to do was design the see-saw operated foot pedal instead of the previous push mechanism, which required your hands,” he says.

Ian sent rough sketches of the mechanism to his Computer-aided Design (CAD) designer, who turned them into workable designs from his home.

Ian also uses a small local engineer, who also works solo from his home and who was able to turn the design into reality with some spare materials he had.

“By the time we came out of lockdown, we had the prototype operating and are now in full production.

“They’re now installed in schools in Christchurch, Havelock North, Tauranga and Auckland.

“We also have an order to be installed at a new bus depot in Silverdale in Auckland, and a multi-unit installation at an event centre also in Auckland.”

Ian says if he hadn’t acted quickly, his business could be facing a very uncertain future.

“As soon as the school said they were shutting them down, we knew this could be a problem – so if we wanted to stay in business we had to be ahead of the pack.

“We’re a small local business and were able to react reasonably quickly. This has really opened up opportunities for us, perhaps even overseas.”

Ian says the Contactless Hydration Stations can be used in schools and businesses, as they’re great for hygienically filling bottles and cups.

 

Tap Water Wells and Metropol are giving away two Contactless Hydration Station water bottle fillers. One to a primary school, and one to an ECE. Visit Metropol’s Facebook page to enter!