Making the most of every weekend is something that Nick and Amanda O’Brien are
passionate about. The couple, who live in Kinloch, are always on the look out for new places
to explore with their two young children Harri and Finn. During the first national lockdown
in 2020 the pair schemed up a plan to turn their love for adventure into a business.
“I was looking for a business that would give me lots of flexibility” says Amanda, who has a background in teaching. “As a family we wanted to continue to travel and explore new places and I didn’t want to be tied down to a nine to five job” she says.
After a few discussions with Nick over lockdown, Amanda decided to create something new. “We were looking for a way to keep track of the places we’ve travelled to with Harri and Finn. So I asked a graphic designer to create a scratch map for us. Once we’ve visited a destination we scratch out the dot on the map. It’s like a visual diary - a great way to record where we’ve been and where we want to go in the future” says Amanda.
The maps have been a huge success, with sales rocketing when Amanda posted the new product on the NZ Chooice Facebook page. “After lockdown there was a big focus on shopping local. Chooice features New Zealand made products from small businesses, so it was a great fit. We launched our product just in time for Christmas. The orders just went crazy” says Amanda.
Although the business has been a success, Amanda says it’s been a steep learning curve. “The first maps we produced had some errors and the scratch dots didn’t work properly. We had to reprint all our stock and send replacement maps to customers. That was really hard.
It’s also been a juggle managing the business while looking after two young children. Sometimes we’re up to all hours of the night packing maps to send to customers, so we’re very grateful that my parents live close-by and have been able to help” she says.
Amanda and Nick have also appreciated the support of the team at Amplify (formerly
Enterprise Great Lake Taupō). “When we first started we had absolutely no idea how to run this sort of business. We had so much to learn. I did a lot of online research and listened to heaps of podcasts. Amplify have given us great support, including helping access the Government’s Digital Boost programme” says Amanda.
The couple have added more themed maps to their business such as bike trails and golf
courses. The maps are now stocked in a number of retail and online stores, and they have a
great relationship with their customers who often suggest new map themes and products.
Taupō’s central location has also worked well for Nick and Amanda, as distribution to
customers and retailers around the country is quick and simple. “Our courier company
collects parcels directly from our door, which makes things really easy. Living in Kinloch is
such a great lifestyle. We have just loved it here!” says Amanda.