ACovid-19 world has forced some people to switch careers in order to stay afloat, while others have hit reset on their lives.

Reporters Alexia Johnston and Simon Henderson talk to people settling into new jobs and industries across Central Otago.

The experience of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown led Kristy and Shane Bruce, of Alexandra, to take a chance on a new business.

Mrs Bruce was working as an accountant and was about to start a new job when the enforced ‘‘break’’ of lockdown gave her the time to think about a change in direction.

‘‘Covid was almost like a required down time and I guess it gave everybody that fright to realise that it’s not always guaranteed that we are going to have a job,’’ she said.

She began researching the market for a saddlery and tack shop, and set up an online retail store.

‘‘It is something I feel really passionate about and want to see it get off the ground.’’

The pair were investigating creating a physical shop at their property in Springvale Rd that would also have an arena to allow customers to get the perfect fit for their horses.

If the lockdown had not happened, Mrs Bruce doubted she would have pursued the business idea.

‘‘I don’t think I would have had that time to reflect and think.’’ Mandy Myles, of Wanaka, came up with her idea for an online bookstore while she was in lockdown.

She spent it reading and posting book reviews online ‘‘and I was just finding that a lot of people were wanting to support local and buy the books I was reviewing’’.

Miss Myles worked with a local website designer and launched her online bookshop on August 12.

The reception had been ‘‘really warm’’ and now she was juggling working in retail with running her online bookstore.

‘‘It’s been really good . . .it’s a pretty packed schedule but I’m really enjoying having the website.’’

Alexandra woman Jessica Thomas is also on a new career path as she waits for the tourism sector to take flight again.

Mrs Thomas had her hours at a travel business reduced to 60% due to Covid-19.

Seven months on, Mrs Thomas has retrained in real estate and now works in both industries.

She said she loved her job in tourism, but the industry was in turmoil following border closures.

Waiting for it to recover was not an option for Mrs Thomas, whose husband, Brad, had also lost his job as a hunting guide.

He now works in landscaping and she divides her time between travel and real estate.

The travel industry is one she still loves and she is confident it will ‘‘bounce back’’.

‘‘But I can’t sit around and wait until that day happens.’’

Now, with more work and another great team of colleagues behind her, ‘‘there’s a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel’’.

‘‘Sometimes with bad things comes some good opportunities.’’

Amy Neilson, of Cromwell, has also hit reset on her career.

Before Covid-19, she was a senior marketing and product manager for a provider of luxury accommodation and travel experiences.

She has since established two of her own businesses — a fitness business and a marketing company.

Miss Neilson already had a background in the geography of obesity and uses her marketing skills to promote businesses, particularly at grassroots.

She had always wanted to set up her own businesses and Covid-19 gave her that opportunity, which was a case of ‘‘now or never’’.


New direction . . . Amy Neilson has ventured out on her own, setting up two businesses since Covid-19. PHOTO: SUPPLIED/AMY NEILSON

New companies

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a challenge but for some it has forced change.

A quick look at New Zealand Companies Office registrations with an address in Central Otago shows about 336 new companies have been formed between March and October.

This compares with about 295 in the same period last year, a difference of about 12-13%.

While this may not show the complete picture, as companies can be registered in addresses outside the region, it suggests entrepreneurial ideas are still flourishing.

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