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Rotorua Weekender - 2021-10-15

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Putting in the hard mahi catches eyes

KĀHU KI ROTORUA

Passionate, dedicated and a real professional. Throw in mother to three boys and sole operator running her own eyelash extension business in central Rotorua. That's Rauwhiro Kennedy (Ngati Pikiao, Ngati Whakaue, Tuhourangi) winner of a Ka Hao Ki Te Ao scholarship from Te Whare Hukahuka. Te Whare Hukahuka co-founder Travis O'keefe said from Perth that Rauwhiro's commitment and sheer hard work earned her award. “It wasn't Rauwhiro's business that stood out, it was Rauwhiro that stood out for the effort she put into completing the comfort challenges! She is made of the right stuff to be successful! What we have learned from the past students is that the only difference between success and failure in the programme is effort, effort to learn, the effort to say no to others, effort to stop people-pleasing, the effort to overcome disadvantages, the effort to feel your fear and to do it anyway. So this is what we search for in our selection process - effort.” Rauwhiro is no stranger to hard work and has been in beauty therapy for eight years now, having graduated when she was 20. She moved to Auckland to train at the Elite Beauty School in Newmarket, working short-term jobs to help finance her course. All up the training cost $21,000. Maori and Pacific students had high rates of failure to finish but one of the tutors, Melissa Rikirangi, helped her get through and graduate. The head of the school and also head of the Association of Beauty Therapy, Judy West, set standards for the industry. Working in the beauty therapy field means self presentation is one of the key elements of her job. Rauwhiro has taken on board the professional standards the school set and maintains them to this day. “I have to protect my reputation. My clients won't go to anybody else and loyalty goes both ways.” When Rauwhiro returned to Rotorua she joined Lexy at Waxworks before branching out on her own. Her business is very successful but she is modest. “As long as I can pay my taxes I'm happy.” Currently she works Tuesday to Thursday although Covid-19 forced her to examine her work-life balance. She has three sons with partner Mikey Bidois (Ngati Ranginui, Pirirakau). Kirimaene, 6, Kemara, 2, and Rakai, 1. Rauwhiro is so busy she doesn't take walk-ins and has a month-long waiting list unless there are cancellations. Once clients have extensions fitted they need to return every two or three weeks for infills. Advances in technology mean coloured extensions are possible and that's a whole new ball game. Rauwhiro is coming to grips with e-commerce and strategies for the future and already sells products on line. Travis O'keefe says Rauwhiro is part of a small selection of elite indigenous entrepreneurs, in the top 10 per cent of 2608 applicants. “Ninety per cent of those that apply don't make it this far. Now she is onboard the waka, she will need to relentlessly implement new knowledge, she must change herself to be the best version of her self and that will require more effort!” Rauwhiro relishes her busy lifestyle but regrets she is so busy she hasn't had a chance to return to kapa haka. She is a member of Te Matarae I O Rehu where she first stood in 2013. “That was a journey and taught me to be tough. “It helped me have faith in myself and that I could be Maori and work for myself in the beauty industry. “People see this Maori chick, doing her own mahi, got her own shop. “These are my streets, and people like seeing a local in business.” But for now Rauwhiro is concentrating on her Ka Hao I Te Ao journey and working on establishing “a more passionate lash artist”. “You only get two chances and have to make an effort. “That's the reality of it.”

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