At the start of the year when The Gaia Collection was only just starting as a business, Eli and I sat down to figure out what we wanted to achieve this year. We threw out all the crazy ideas but eventually settled on a list of goals, a list of our dreams for the business...
Here's what we came up with, the goals that went into all of our pitches and plans:
1. Be able to donate over $2500 to Forest and Bird's Fairy Tern Project.
2. Spark more conservation about New Zealand's endangered wildlife.
3. Have Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wear our earrings.
All our goals were made with the idea of spreading as much awareness about some of New Zealand's most endangered wildlife. We knew that the first two were definitely achievable and we have already sold enough to donate over $250 to Forest and Bird's Fairy Tern Project.
However, the last goal about getting our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to wear our earrings was purely put in there for fun. We thought how cool would it be to get her wearing our earrings? We knew that earrings that she has worn in the past, the businesses have blown up overnight, and we knew how much of an impact that could have on the Fairy Tern's if that happened.
So we started setting strategies in place to see if we could try to get a pair to her. First, we invited her to our product launch in early June. However, she couldn't make it that day but offered us all the best for the launch. We then went back to the drawing board and tried to think of other ways we could get some earrings to her. The key thing was sharing our story with her as our earrings are so much more than earrings.
Then our mentor, Chris Baxter from Abstract Designs, suggested passing them onto a friend of his who is on Jacinda's Security team... But, we thought that might not be the way to go as we would hate to put his friend in a difficult position.
So we then reached out to our local MP, Ginny Anderson and arranged a time to chat. The following week we went into her office and talked for just over half an hour about our business. She absolutely loved our ideas and we gifted her a pair of earrings as a thank you for her time. She not only took home a pair of earrings for herself she also grabbed two more pairs to take to parliament for the next week. I remember her saying that she couldn't make any promises but she would see if she could get a pair to Jacinda.
The next couple of days that we spend waiting till the Tuesday when parliament was meeting were nerve-wracking. When Tuesday did roll around, Jacinda was home sick with Neve. So we thought that was the end of that avenue and went back to brainstorming.
The following Tuesday morning (10th August) Eli and I sat around the table with our business teacher brainstorming all the ways we could get our earrings to her and came up with a huge list of ideas for us to start getting into the following day.
However, that afternoon at the end of lunch I had a quick look through our Facebook before heading into our next class and saw that Ginny Anderson had uploaded a photo of Jacinda with our earrings.
"Eli and Olivia from The Gaia Collection I can report that Jacinda Ardern loves her Fairy Tern earrings. She is also very impressed with your work to spread awareness and protect some of New Zealand's most endangered wildlife.... with $5 from each pair sold going towards conservation. A Young Enterprise project with a big heart from some very talented Hutt young women."
We were over the moon, our biggest and most ambitious goal had been achieved. But, this wasn't the first time a politician had noticed our business. Willow-Jean Prime the MP from Northland was the second receiver of our earrings from Ginny and also had kind words to say about our business.
"Thanks, Ginny Anderson MP for Hutt South for these Tara Iti (Fairy Tern) earrings made by Year 13 YES students Eli and Olivia from her electorate. I love that $5 from every pair sold goes towards helping Forest and Bird's Fairy Tern Project. They are Nationally Critical with fewer than 40 birds left and are found only at four breeding sites in Northland."
A couple of days after we saw Jacinda Ardern and Willow Jean with our earrings, we saw that Ginny Anderson has also shared them with Kiri Allan, the Minister of Conservation!
In her post, she said that:
"The Minister of Conservation was very impressed with your initiative"
We also attended an event where David Parker, Minister for the Environment, Minister of Oceans and Fisheries and Minister of Revenue and Associate Minister of Finance, was speaking at and was able to spend 5 minutes talking to him about our business. He loved what we are doing and brought a pair himself.
On top of all that, over in Kapiti one day, someone was talking about our business to their friend and Sophie Handford the Kapiti Coast District councillor overheard and brought a pair. She also loved them a ton and has posted to her socials more than once with our earrings making a cameo.
We are absolutely stoked to see this support from our Nations leaders and are so excited for what our businesses future holds. You can join our leaders by purchasing a pair from our shop! - Olivia