Maimoa Creative - Aroha
I had the pleasure of getting to talk to Aroha, the beautiful wāhine who is the owner and artist behind Maimoa Creative.
Maimoa Creative is about promoting the Māori language through unique hand-lettered printed goods and resources. Their aim is to help normalise the use of te reo in everyday life, and to empower people to be proud of their Māoritanga.
How did you get the idea or concept for your business? Why choose calligraphy/ink?
Maimoa Creative started out as a small side hustle that came to reality when I was on maternity leave with my eldest (now 3yrs). I launched with just 5 greeting cards designs in te reo Māori. You could hardly find any greeting cards in New Zealand that were in te reo Māori, and that to me was a problem I decided I wanted to solve. For me it was more of an experiment than anything. Just having a ‘tutu’ in between the chaotic moments of being a mum to a newborn and navigating that new season. It was so fun, just brainstorming ideas of everything that I wanted to create, with no boundaries or anyone telling me what they wanted, or how they thought it should look. There was so much freedom, and I thrived in my creativity when I could steer the waka in any direction that sat right with my wairua.
It felt natural to use my skill of lettering and design to create my designs. I have always been obsessed with typography and fonts, and I get a lot of joy when I sit down and letter with ink on paper. It also ensures originality. It’s a nice shift from the screen, and a way for me to have a few moments of peace and concentration as I focus on the small details.
Your online shop is so much more than just selling products, you can feel the passion behind everything you do!
As well as my online store selling my products, I have also recently been focussing a lot on creating fun and educational content for people learning te reo Māori. I am passionate about helping people on their reclamation journey — as it is a very personal journey that I can strongly relate to. Whether that’s sharing parts of my experience, sharing reaffirming words to remind them that they’re enough, or providing short videos that help them learn parts of their language — I’m there for it. Although it can be quite a time consuming process creating the content, it is something that contributes to my kaupapa, which is about uplifting and promoting te reo Māori in Aotearoa. That is my why. The fact I receive so many comments of encouragement from my followers saying they have found so much value from the content I share is a huge drive behind why I continue to share what I share.
Do you have any influences/inspirations, if so who are they and why?
My mum is one of my biggest inspirations. She is always putting other people first, always showering love on them and helping in any way she can. Having someone in my life that is that selfless and models how I should treat other people is a huge inspiration for me, and a challenge to make sure that whatever I do, I put people and God at the centre.
Did you face any obstacles when beginning your journey? What are the positives and negatives of owning a small business?
The main struggle was finding the work/life balance (which, if I’m to be honest, is still hard to find that line!). But most other things just fell into place. I felt hugely supported by my whānau and friends, and I never got to a point where I felt like giving up, because it all felt so right and I was so happy with what I did.
Positives include freedom, flexibility, and ability to choose which direction the business goes, being able to say no to whatever doesn’t resonate with you
Negatives - you get so invested that it takes up a lot more mental energy, late nights, being a perfectionist because it’s your reputation you have to maintain, having to wear all the hats, not being in a position to hire people to deal with jobs you’re not too keen on (e.g. admin, book-keeping, customer service, stock management etc)
What is a favourite product of yours?
One of my favourite products that I create are our custom pepeha prints. To me, it encompasses our whole kaupapa. Uplifting tangata whenua, cherishing the language and people in your life, weaving together strands of whakapapa into an art form that customers can display/gift with pride. A statement piece that will be treasured for generations.
What is your proudest achievement?
Speaking from a business perspective, I am proud of the fact that I was able to go from a side-hustle to full-time gig (and loving it!) in under 2 years. I’m so stoked to have found ‘my thing’, something that I am so passionate about that it hardly feels like work.
What are your goals? What’s the next move for Maimoa Creative?
My desire is for Maimoa Creative to be a name that is well recognised by Māori — so that my business is the ‘go-to’ for creating unique customised pieces and educational resources in te reo Māori that are cherished by whānau, iwi, hapu, marae, and other pakihi Māori. I would love to be able to collaborate with iwi around the motu to create special hand-lettered pieces of their iwi anthems, mōteatea, karakia and whakapapa that they can display with pride and pass down the generations. My art is another form of memorialising their history, and I am always so honoured to be a part of that process. I would also love to be able to collaborate with other like-minded pakihi to create more resources for learners of te reo Māori.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Whatever you commit to, you must be passionate about it. Otherwise your idea has a short lifespan and no wairua (essence) to it. Decide on your core values at the very beginning, and always come back to them when making decisions. For example, when I started Maimoa Creative, my goal was to support local makers and NZ products as much as possible. There have been multiple times where I could have easily gone with a cheaper/less environmentally friendly option for our products and packaging, but it didn’t align with the brand and everything I stood for, so I just kept researching and asking around until I found something that did.
Create a brand that you’re PROUD of. A brand that is more than just selling a product or service, but it evokes emotion and allows your audience to connect with your kaupapa on a deeper level.