Women Who Own It

Sarah Ayala of the Kiwi Importer

Women Who Own It

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Sara Ayala

The Kiwi Importer

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What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Work out what is your biggest challenge and focus daily on that problem. It’s very easy to get busy with activities that aren’t tackling the real problems.

What do you see as the coolest or most important trend in your industry?

I’m constantly blown away by the level of retail data that is available and I’m also excited by the development of tech tools to support e-commerce business activities. More specifically to food, it’s exciting to see how tastes are expanding into trying new foods and I like that the market is trending towards healthier and more sustainably made options as that’s something we look for in our ranging as well as my own personal ethos.

As a business owner, what keeps you up at night?

What keeps me up at night is always evolving depending on the current challenges, whether that be how to grab the attention of a potential customer, how to a tighten up a process or thinking through a new opportunity. I like to mull over ideas after lights out, but sometimes I need to remind myself not to fuss over things that are out of my control.

What do you love about being a business owner?

Being a business owner is a very dynamic roll. The business changes as you grow, the environment changes and there are so many components to keep track of. There’s never a dull moment.

How do you define success?

Success to me is growth. Not just growth in the bottom line (the ultimate measure) but also growth in the team, development of our range, clarity of our strategy, maturity in our processes.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was about ten years-old, I wanted to be the first female Prime Minister of New Zealand. Jenny Shipley (in 1997) and Helen Clarke (in 1999) well and truly beat me to that goal while I was still at University! Jacinda Arden, our incumbent Prime Minister, was voted in in 2017 becoming the world’s youngest female head of government, having taken office at age 37, and the world’s second elected head of government to give birth while in office. New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world to have had three female heads of government and we’re also the first country that gave women the right to vote. While my childhood dream had faded by the time I was in University and I took greater interest in International Business, I feel very lucky to have grown up in New Zealand in an environment where female leadership has been attainable.

How do you unwind after a long workday?

My husband, kids and I all go to Jiu Jitsu together 3 or 4 times a week and that’s a great way to decompress. I also really enjoy sitting outside on the back porch chatting with my husband, sometimes with a glass of Malbec. In the weekend we make an effort to get outdoors together, even if it is as simple as going to a local park. There’s something I find really uplifting about being outside.

What do you like about your workspace?

I really love the band of smart and enthusiastic women I have working with me. Everyone brings something different to the team and together we’re unstoppable!

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... chunk it down into manageable pieces.

If I could go back in time, I would… give myself an encouraging high five but say nothing. Life hasn’t been without challenges and mistakes but they’ve all shaped me to who I am today.

The one thing I couldn’t live without is… my husband and kids.

By this time next year, I will… closer to my purple belt in Jiu Jitsu.

The best thing that happened to me last week was… deciding to go to New Zealand for Christmas.

To get my creative juices flowing, I… coffee and walks!


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