A dream to open her own family-friendly business brought Angeleen Lewers to Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, where she gained the strength to make her dream a reality. Angeleen had a successful career as a registered nurse but was sick of the toll shift work had on her health and her family life.
I’m a fan of just having really good family balance and I always wanted to create a business where it was work and family-friendly.
She was also a fan of baking and since she had several food allergies, was particularly interested in raw cakes. “Going to a cafe or restaurant is really difficult because nine times out of ten I can’t eat anything, so creating raw cakes was a huge baby of mine and my mum’s to make something that anyone can eat.”
So, along with her mum Natalie, Angeleen established Whangārei-based business Raw Cakes, which supplies raw cakes to outlets across the country. With little business experience, Angeleen enrolled in the Certificate in Small Business Management programme at the Whangārei campus of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, believing the qualification would give her more credibility in the business world.
Enrolling was originally something to make me feel like I am a business owner, but as I went through the course it wasn’t about that piece of paper. It was the strength, the mana, the skills that I was taught by our kaiako to build a business. Towards the end I felt so empowered, the course gave me so much courage and so many tools to use in my business.
Angeleen now operates Raw Cakes out of a commercial kitchen in Whangārei and gets to work with her mum and business partner Natalie every day. “It fills my heart with so much love. Not many people get to see their mum everyday and even when we’re not together I’m calling her. Being able to spend my work life with my family and doing things that I love with them is just amazing.”
And she says she would never have achieved that without the support and love she received from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
“I think coming into the wānanga, you get enveloped into the whānau culture. You feel that love, that strength just walking through the campus. It doesn’t matter if you’re Māori or not, it doesn’t matter if you’re from New Zealand or not, the fact that you’re brought into the whānau and that you’re so loved and embraced by everyone, it just makes you feel really important and valued. I think in society it’s really easy to not feel valued and feeling that love from everyone gives you that drive to go forward. If it wasn’t for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa I would have crumbled with the pressure.”