Skip to main content

16 July 2020

Entrepreneur and WorldSkills Champion uses Competition experience to stay focused during the pandemic

Business owner and WorldSkills Champion, Amelia Addis is reigniting her business ventures as New Zealand emerges from lockdown with a focus on thriving, not just surviving.

The Champions Trust Representative for ASEAN/Oceana has a floristry business on the country’s North Island, but also runs an automotive repair and maintenance venture with her partner

COVID-19 hit both almost overnight but in very different ways. Botanica, her floral design studio, lost almost all its revenue at once, as customers were forced to postpone their celebrations

“I specialize in wedding designs specifically and because there's no events - basically no weddings overnight - that had a big impact on not only the immediate events that were planned, but also the ways that couples were planning for next year’s wedding season, so that was significantly affected.”

For the garage, the situation was more complex, as Amelia, who competed in Floristry at WorldSkills Saō Paulo 2015, explains.

“As a day to day automotive business that helps people get around, and an essential service, we decided to really limit what we did in the circumstances.”

“In New Zealand we locked down fairly quickly, so we decided that if we closed that business for a month, and only did emergency jobs, we would be able to get back to work sooner.”

It was a strategy that worked. New Zealand was relatively lightly hit by coronavirus and the country has now lifted its lockdown measures, although entry is restricted and tightly controlled.

As a result, after about six weeks, the business climate is “somewhat normal” as Amelia puts it.

Speaking at the WorldSkills Conference Talk to celebrate World Youth Skills Day, she also reflected on what the future might bring.

At first both of them were “managing our own fears and circumstances about what our businesses would look like after this. But also, the responsibility to staff and our customers, who rely on us to keep their vehicles safe. So trying to manage all those things was a challenge.”

“It made me reflect on some of the ways that we did it. A big part of planning to have floristry was that we had some security and diversity in having two businesses.”

It’s also made her rethink the value of both to the community. “I think the thing I have reflected on the most during this period is what is essential, because one of those businesses seems very much essential in terms of helping people get from A to B.”

 “It would be really easy to think ‘well flowers, that’s not essential at all’. But as we are starting to move out of lockdown in New Zealand there has been a really big demand for people to plan their weddings, but also for people just to have flowers in their homes, and I think really acknowledging an appreciation of nature, and of events together and also of art.

“Things that are essential to us not to survive, but to really thrive. So for me it’s having the balance.”

Amelia thinks that her skills training and the whole WorldSkills Competition experience has also helped.

“Vocational skills training sets us up to be really adaptable and great entrepreneurs to begin with. I think people in skills want to solve problems whatever that is and so I think that kind of inquisitive nature is a good beginning for setting you up for business.

“For me personally the WorldSkills experience of going through a competition really gave me the realisation of what skills I had and how they would be good as a business owner.”

Coronavirus is also a chance promote the value of skills, she believes. “I think right now the world's appreciation for skills is bigger than ever, as they're seeing they keep us moving through this.

“So I would challenge the skills community to capitalise on that, To encourage people to look at skills pathways, to get more people into skills - because we know we're going to need them in the rebuilding and the recovery.”

Watch the full Conference Talk, featuring Amelia and four other Champions reflect on the opportunities and challenges presented to young skilled professionals.