Our People | Business
Why do we “Get Creative” in Business?
“The would-be artisans who ditch day jobs to chase a dream:
‘It didn’t reflect who I was, it didn’t define me as a person, it was a thankless job… I could go on for days. How much paper have you got?’
‘People were getting so sick of flat-pack, cookie-cutter, designer product pumped out of a factory. We’re a generation of people who have no heirlooms to pass on.’
But when the Rundells looked around them, what they perceived as bonkers was their city-based life. The Great Australian Dream had come at a cost: high stress, social expectations, the pressure of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, a lack of work-life balance.
‘I started to question what I was doing back at home with an incredibly large mortgage, stressful occupation and a young child who I wasn’t seeing much because of my work,’ he says. Upon his return, he and Lisa discussed where their lives were heading.
‘We asked ourselves the question – it sounds fairly morbid – what would we do if we had 12 months to live? Would we still be here, paying a mortgage and living in the suburbs?’
Far from the demands of his former life, he feels happier, healthier and more fulfilled. ‘You’re the master of your own destiny,’ he says.
The Rundells are among a small but not insignificant group of Australians swapping professional jobs for the artisanal life. They’re the workplace equivalent of the slow-food movement or the tree-change trend; a group whose life choices speak of a dissatisfaction with not just the pace of modern corporate life, but its drivers.
In searching for a simpler way of making a living, often using their hands as well as their heads, they’re rejecting the idea of workplaces that do not prioritise people, where profits matter more than quality, where you often don’t get home in time to put your kids to bed, and where your long-term job prospects can be thin.
They’re able to do it in 2018 because the internet allows them to sell their wares beyond the towns in which they choose to live, and because consumers are increasingly happy to pay a premium for the handmade.
In the process, old forms of manual labour that were once the preserve of the working class are gaining a newfound status and credibility. Far from a step down on the social ladder, becoming a high-end barber, baker or shoemaker is now a vantage point, one being monitored by sociologists, economists and cultural studies academics around the globe.
‘There’s definitely a resurgence, compared to the 1980s, ’90s, noughties,’ says Susan Luckman, professor of cultural studies in the school of creative industries at the University of South Australia. Author of books including ‘Craft and the Creative Economy’ (2015), she’s the chief investigator on a four-year Australian Research Council project looking at the ways in which the online world is changing how craftspeople do business.
‘I think there’s a bigger, wider social interest in back-to-basics – who are we, how things are actually made – and that is something the big end of town can’t and won’t ignore,’ she says. ‘A lot of employment is vulnerable, it’s precarious, it’s high-turnover… global happiness surveys are showing that in the West especially, a lot of people aren’t happy with the way things are going with their work, with the state of the world. This is the way some people who can are trying to get some meaning back.’
‘Digital technology has enabled different kinds of workers to increasingly be self-employed, to work from home, to market and distribute online,’ she says.
‘The ironic other side of digital technology is that we are seeing … people rebelling against the digital world. The rise of craft and the artisanal is a part of people pushing back against that. It’s substantive, it’s material, it’s real, it exists.’
Although moving from white-collar to artisanal worker entails risk, most people who do it have the luxury of choice, says the University of SA’s Susan Luckman. That is, they are professionals with assets and means. But if people who can are doing it, it suggests that there are plenty of others who would if only they could, she says.
Luckman’s research suggests a disproportionate number of those opting for the craft life come from families with a connection to making; they’re comfortable with the idea of using their hands.
The artisans whom Good Weekend speak to agree that the secret to success is persistence, hard work, embracing the unknown, and being prepared to fail.”
Where do we “Get Creative” in Business?
“Ara Institute of Canterbury to become more Awesome:
Establishing an ecosystem that will nurture dynamic start-ups, entrepreneurs, and innovators is critical for Christchurch, and Canterbury to strengthen its standing as a region of opportunity. This is one of the primary goals of Christchurch’s newest partnership between Ara Institute of Canterbury and Ministry of Awesome.
On 15th October, Ara Institute of Canterbury and the Ministry of Awesome will unite to establish a jointly powered innovation hub located at Ara’s city campus. The hub forms the cornerstone of Christchurch’s innovation ecosystem and will reinforce its global positioning as a world class start-up, innovation, and tech city. It will create an opportunity for all players in the existing ecosystem to significantly collaborate and enhance the region’s ability to retain and attract the very best global talent.
Chief Awesome Officer, Marian Johnson, says entrepreneurs and high growth start-ups are critical to Christchurch’s success.
‘Ministry of Awesome will continue with the momentum building leadership role we are playing in the start-up and innovation space, but with even greater impact as we partner with Ara’s 19,000-strong learning and knowledge community. This community has huge potential and with access to the Ministry of Awesome’s guidance, capability training and networks, we will grow something extraordinary. The door is wide open for participation. This is a chance for the Canterbury region to collaborate on a whole new level. We want to encourage anyone with an idea, an innovation, or a start-up venture in mind to reach out and join the community,’ says Marian.
Ara Head of Business Department, Michaela Blacklock, says the significance of this partnership to learners at Ara is huge and the possibilities for the Canterbury region are immense.
‘This partnership is not only aligned with the goals of Christchurch NZ – to ignite bold ambition in our city and region, to connect changemakers and to stimulate economic activity – but it will also enable greater consideration of social and community change. It is an exciting time in the region with an abundance of creativity, innovation and big ideas,’ says Michaela.”
“5 Benefits of Community for Entrepreneurs
When you are running a business your business inspiration can come from almost anywhere. However, a few small business owners forget to use one of the most important tools laying at their fingertips. One of the most important tools that you can use is community. In any city there will always be a community to connect with, and as an entrepreneur, you need this. There is the community of small business owners, already established, and full of knowledge, right there in your city. There is a community of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs in your industry or niche, again, right there in your city.
1. Learning from each other’s mistakes
2. Exchanging tips of the trade
3. Passing on knowledge
4. Making connections
5. Learning new business skills
You can always start your own entrepreneurial group, online or otherwise. There are no rules here, but the benefits will outweigh any hassle it may take to get your community started.”