Real Life

Kiwi go-getters’ success secrets

These ambitious women turned bright ideas into businesses.
Kiwi go-getters' success secrets

Anna Mabey

Anna’s flexible programme allows her – and her clients – to work out when it suits them.

When Anna Mabey had her first child Tommy a year ago, like all new mums she knew regaining her pre-baby body would require work. But despite being a personal trainer, the Otaki mum found herself unable to leave the house to go to the gym as she usually would – so she started looking online for other ways to get into shape.

“Gym times just didn’t work for me – there’d be classes at 6pm, and that’s when Tommy needed dinner,” says Anna (28). “I just started Googling to see if there were any ways that I could help myself get back on track, but there was nothing that would let me stay at home with my baby. So I just thought, ‘There’s got to be other people like me out there who need a way to get fit at home.’”

Anna started up Personal Train Me, an online “virtual trainer”. Users can log on to and for a fraction of the cost of a regular personal trainer, receive customised fitness and lifestyle plans for use at home or the gym.

Although Anna created the business without a particular clientele in mind, unsurprisingly her site has been a hit with new mums. Anna’s even managed to incorporate babies into her workouts – she uses Tommy as a dumbbell when she does squats and sits him on her tummy while she does crunches.

Although the idea was readily formed in her head, Anna, who had no experience when it came to starting a small business, found she had to endure many setbacks before the business took off. “The day I launched my website, 80% of my clients couldn’t access their accounts,” she says. “It was scary. I thought it was the end of everything.”

But after she managed to fix the problem, Anna realised she’d learned from her mistakes – and she became more likely to give things a go, which has allowed her to expand her business and look out for opportunities for future growth.

“I think, to be successful, you have to have a passion for what you’re doing. Know the product, enlist the help of professionals and don’t be afraid to talk to other successful businesswomen you admire.”

Deanna Yang

With Moustache, Deanna has fulfilled a lifelong ambition to own a milk and cookie bar.

It took three jobs, a university degree and blood, sweat and tears, but 22-year-old Deanna Yang has finally achieved her childhood dream – opening a milk and cookie shop.

At only 21, Deanna opened the doors to Moustache – a boutique milk and cookie bar in Auckland’s CBD – but she had to give up a lot to get her dream off the ground. As well as sacrificing time with her family and friends, Deanna used her life savings to get the shop operating and managed to self-fund the store without any help from a bank, as none would go near a 21-year-old.

“I worked three jobs through university to fund Moustache,” she says. “No-one on my course saw me. I was a communications adviser for an HR firm – that was 25 hours a week – I owned a juice stall at the markets, and I was bartending part time while I studied journalism.”

Deanna suddenly realised during the third year of her communication studies degree that the media world wasn’t for her, and started developing her own cookie recipes in order to sell them on a mass scale. Just like a true journalist, Deanna found she needed a deadline to work to so she gave herself just one year to open her dream shop.

“I decided when I was 20 that I needed to do it when I was 21,” she says. “I thought, ‘That’s not much time, I’d better get hustling!’ I ended up opening 12 days before my 22nd birthday.”

Deanna always knew that she wanted to open a cookie shop, even when she was in primary school. “I’ve been thinking about the idea of a milk and cookie place since I was a kid,” she says. “When I was really young, I wrote on my bucket list, ‘Open a cookie shop.’

“It sounds so childish now! I wrote it down, but I never thought much of it. I mean, right under the idea for Moustache was, ‘Have a racing car bed’!”

Backed by a team of 10 servers, bakers and milkshake makers, Deanna opened the doors in September and has watched in amazement as thousands of people have traipsed in to try her treats. “This was the scariest time of my life, I think. All this money was going out and nothing was coming in.

“I know it was a bit risky, but I just threw myself into the business. And so far, it’s worked!”

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