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Sophia Parun clearly remembers drawing and painting at primary school, and just loving it. It’s not surprising, creativity and a passion for art runs in her family. It’s making a living from art that is the difficult part. But where there is a will there is a way, and the last year has seen Parun well on her way.

Sometimes all you need is an idea to set the wheels in motion. Parun’s art is based around the patterns of nature, it is organic and unexpected, she wants people to be inspired by the natural world and that which is not usually seen. Her work is different and unique.

With a love of textiles, Parun had a vision of her artworks being translated to high quality silk scarves for retail sale.

Being of Ngai Tahu descent Parun was able to tap into the support of Puna Pakihi, a business support programme developed by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. Its goal is to help Ngai Tahu whanau reach their business potential and make their ideas a reality. As part of this they assist in linking new businesses with the right mentor. In Parun’s case this was achieved through CEDA’s Business Mentors New Zealand Programme.

As soon as Parun’s mentor, Brigham Anderson, was allocated, things started happening. Anderson was impressed with Parun’s vision. He was able to share his business knowledge with her and every meeting was motivational, with each step leading to the next.

“Having Brigham as my mentor streamlined the process of starting the business as I had so much support. He was always encouraging and was a huge help in developing a robust business plan. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him,” says Parun.

That robust business plan saw Parun successfully bid for a grant through Puna Pakihi to get the business off the ground. Only thirty such grants are given out each year.

Parun found that her mentor not only gave her sound business advice but was also someone to talk to about struggles and doubts, being able to empathise and give timely encouragement.

For anyone looking for extra support, she highly recommends the Business Mentors New Zealand Programme.

“The constant learning and inspiration has been invaluable. The follow up contact from CEDA, to check how the mentoring is going and the support to help me through the next stages of business, has been fantastic. It’s great to have that ongoing relationship and know that others out there are genuinely interested in what and how you are doing.”

Joining CEDA’s Regional Business Partners Network, will be part of the next stage of Parun’s journey as an established business.

With her first collection complete and having just finished a fashion photoshoot in Wellington, it’s on to developing a website and online shop. Once that is up and running, Parun plans to market her collection of eight designs to boutiques in Wellington.

Long-term Parun would love to go international and market her scarves off-shore, Paris, Milan, Japan, Australia and the U.S. all being on her list. But for now, it’s step by step.

As for a sneak preview of the scarves, sorry, they are top secret at the moment. We’ll let you know when Parun’s website and first collection is launched!

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