Michelle Joe on Crafting a New Business Life in Tauranga
Waikato-raised, Michelle Joe, dreamed of doing her own thing one day. So, when she felt the pull to move back to the North Island after working in digital communications in Christchurch for a number of years, she decided to take the plunge and start her own freelance business at the same time.
Tauranga was within driving distance of family in Auckland and Taranaki, and, as a growing city, offering the lifestyle perks and entrepreneurial culture that would support her and her new venture. Michelle arrived in Tauranga in October 2018 and has hit the ground running offering digital marketing consulting to local start-ups and small businesses throughout New Zealand, through her business, Craft ‘n Connect.
This is her story.
Michelle, what drew you to studying communications?
At school, I loved Drama, English, and Media Studies and these subjects naturally lead me to the communications degree at AUT. However, at the time I was actually tossing up between going to Unitec to do a screen acting degree or a communications degree at AUT. After much deliberation, I decided to go with communications and continue acting on the side. However, I think either would have been an amazing experience!
Where has your communications career taken you?
After university, I landed my first job at an audio and video post-production company in Auckland. I was in an Audio Producer role where I took care of the day-to-day running of the studio, bookings, dealing with freelancers, sound engineers, and voice talent, and managing client relationships. I also helped source voice talent for various commercials at a sister company located within the same office space. This role equipped me with some fantastic skills, industry connections, and experience.
Itchy feet kicked in during my mid-twenties and my partner and I both wanted to travel but also be able to earn a living so we didn’t burn through all our savings. We decided to teach English in China and travel to Asia for a year. We completed a TEFL course and were each offered a role at a school in Anqing, China (500k inland from Shanghai). We spent 10 months teaching conversational English and traveled to so many incredible places across Asia. I started a blog and documented my travels online at onewaytik.com. This blog has now continued to be a creative project and outlet for me to share inspiring travel and lifestyle stories.
After my OE, I returned to Auckland and worked in the online space as a Digital Content Producer for a few years. I was then offered a Digital Account Manager role in Christchurch for an advertising agency, working across some amazing brands and clients. After being in agency-land, I moved over to the client-side and worked as a Digital Marketer for Woolworths NZ.
When did you first think about moving to Tauranga? What was the appeal?
It’s so beautiful here! I absolutely love the ocean and the active lifestyle this place lends itself to and there are amazing cafes and boutique shops. But also, my family are all in the North Island (Waikato, Auckland, Taranaki), so after living in Christchurch for several years, I wanted to be back in the North Island.
Can you tell us about the decision to start your own business when you moved to Tauranga?
I had wanted to start something of my own for a long time but didn’t know what exactly, or where and how I would do it. But I seriously started planning and thinking more about it a year ago. I can do what I do from anywhere, so I chose somewhere I would be happy living. I saw a great opportunity to service the emerging niche market of start-ups in Tauranga.
Staring your own business is challenging, but I have managed to help a few local clients with their online presence, which is great and rewarding! Small Business Tauranga and local ‘meet-up’ groups have been helpful ways of making connections.
How would you describe your business, Craft ’n Connect?
Craft ‘n Connect is a content creation and social media marketing consultancy focused on helping other small businesses and start-ups tell their story and build their online presence. Services include website content writing, social media, interviews for articles, blog posts, copywriting for eDMs, content strategy, or one on one training sessions. We customize a solution to tailor to each client.
What do you love about living in Tauranga?
The ocean, active lifestyle, the beautiful Mount, amazing cafes, boutique stores, and the overall beach vibe. I live in Mount Maunganui and for fun and to relax I like visiting the beach, doing yoga, going to the gym, hiking, surfing, listening to music, dancing, writing, socializing, watching films and trying new food places.
What has moving to Tauranga meant:
For your career? It’s a great place to start a small business. This place is growing with more entrepreneurs, start-ups and it offers creative space for me to focus on my business this year. All while, still managing to have a good work-life balance
For your wellbeing? It’s been positive for my health and wellbeing. I stay pretty active with the beach and the Mount on my doorstep. I have more time for myself and balance in my daily life. I have a renewed appreciation and excitement when I get away to big cities, which is great.
For your relationships? Moving to Tauranga has given me the chance to see my family who is all on the north island within driving distance, but also connects with old friends again whilst continuing to form new friendships locally in Tauranga.
Gets You Thinking Doesn’t It?
No one can tell you when you’re ready for a change of lifestyle…but when you are, we’d love to have you in Tauranga!
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