Striding out: accountant/lawyer to owner of Pole Gear NZ

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Gone are the days of holding down a single job for life. Businesses change, economies fluctuate and, as individuals, we learn, grow and develop new skills and interests as time moves on. Sometimes we’re lucky to find our passions early; sometimes only when we understand ourselves a little better. Stories of women who follow their dreams are inspiring to hear … because, finding work you love is exciting, but making the switch into unknown territory can be daunting. In the next few editions we’ll meet local women who have made the break and changed their careers.

MEGAN HARRIS

Accountant/Lawyer to Owner of Pole Gear NZ

polegearnz.co.nz

What were you doing?

I completed a BMS/LLB Degree at Waikato University in 2006. Whilst studying I worked at an accounting firm in Hamilton and I loved it. My plan was to specialise in tax law, but when home life became too busy with young children, I stopped work for a while before becoming the Finance and Treasury Coordinator for the Waikato Area branch of Plunket. Despite loving my job, I found I was always looking for something else. When the opportunity to buy the business came up last year, it was the perfect move for me.

What are you doing now?

I own Pole Gear NZ which sells active wear and accessories, mainly for the pole and aerial market – pole fitness, pole dancing, aerial silks, aerial hoops, slings and circus. It’s an online business which I run from home in Cambridge.

What do you love about your work?

I went to my first pole dancing class five years ago and loved it. Since then it has become a large part of my life, so being able to run a business in an area that has become such a passion is amazing. Over the last year I have travelled the country attending events, doing pop-up shops at competitions and meeting the most amazing people – it’s so incredible to be a part of the aerial arts journey for so many men and women. The support from the pole and aerial industry has been amazing, which in turn has enabled us to be more involved with our blossoming industry through sponsorship and support. Next month we will be launching our first NZ-made range of Pole Wear, which is so exciting!

What did you have to do to make the change?

I knew a little about the industry, I could crunch numbers and I’m a ‘people person’, but that was it. There was so much to learn about running a business, the range of products, website building, importing, suppliers, compliance, pricing, marketing, social media and so on. So I started asking people I knew for help. I did a few short courses and joined local business groups, which have become a great support network for all of us to learn and grow our businesses together.

How hard was it to make the leap?

Not hard at all! I bought some shorts off the previous owner and, on the spur of the moment, said that if she ever wanted to sell, I’d be keen. She rang later that day and I didn’t think twice! I had the passion and it just felt so right so I jumped in head first. It has been challenging but I have loved every minute of it. I have never looked back; the corporate world is now a distant memory.

What challenges have you faced?

Apart from learning so many new things, I underestimated how much of a time- hungry beast having your own business is. One of my biggest challenges has been finding that balance between work and family life. As a new online business, you think you need to be available to customers 100% of the time so I find myself constantly on my phone, inadvertently giving more of myself to my customers than to my family. It has been a major goal of mine for 2018 to create some boundaries between work and family life and I am slowly getting there as it is a hard habit to break.

What would you say to other women thinking of making a change?

If anyone had said a few years ago that I’d be doing this, I flat out would have laughed. But don’t laugh, explore it instead. Never say no to an opportunity even if you think it’s ridiculous because you never know where it will lead. This whole thing started with me taking one pole class, so don’t write anything off because you think you’re too old, or don’t have the skills; don’t create barriers for yourself, because you can always learn. Opening my mind to new possibilities and taking a risk has been the most amazing thing ever.

Cover photo designed by Freepic.diller / Freepik