#WahineWednesday: Kelly Johnson
Powering women’s initiatives through electricity
Kelly Johnson is a young, talented and ambitious woman based here in the Waikato. She plays an integral role in the new electricity retailer, Her Energy which stands apart from other retailers in that it aims to give back to women’s initiatives with no extra cost to the consumer. Kelly has kindly taken time out of her busy schedule to tell us a little more about herself and her entrepreneurial endeavours:
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background...
So, I’m 22 years old and I was born in Wellington, which is where I grew up. I lived there until I was 13 before moving up to Hamilton where I finished high school. I have always had a desire to travel but I also wanted to get started with my university studies, so I decided to combine the classic kiwi gap year and my university experience by studying in the UK at Durham University. My parents are English so I had a British passport, which made things easy! I studied History there, which is completely irrelevant to what I do now, but I’ve definitely picked up some transferable skills!
What are some must-know facts about you?
Hmmm... must-know facts. I’m a sucker for a good history fact (hence the History degree hahaha). I love dogs, listening to music, I treat Netflix like a challenge, and I’ve recently gotten really into podcasts! I think I’m 4 years late to the party with the Guilty Feminist haha.
As a Waikato local, what are your go-to cafes, activities, and favourite spots?
I’m a food lover so you’ll often find me in cafes. Cafe Agora in Frankton is fab and very near my office so it’s safe to say I’m there all the time. Lost Boys is also great! I love Paddock in Cambridge, and also Hayes Common. I only came back to New Zealand in September of last year, so I’m very keen to get exploring and try a few new places in Hamilton. There are hidden gems everywhere!
Did you enter university knowing which career path you wanted to go into?
Not at all! I had some inkling of the type of job that I wanted to have and I think I’ve always wanted to work for myself. I remember when I was 16, I actually jokingly came up with an idea that I called ‘Power Plants’. The idea was using a business to help fund the planting of trees. I hadn’t figured out what the business would be yet (a bit of a crucial element) and the electricity industry wasn’t at all on my mind, I hadn’t even paid a power bill yet! But I still think it’s a nice bit of foreshadowing there.
What made you choose to complete the degree you did?
I chose History because it’s something I’m genuinely very interested in. It helps provide an understanding of why the world is what it’s like today, and I think it helps people become more understanding of others and of different perspectives to their own. I don’t personally believe that your career has to be in something that you studied and I never really looked at university as a step by step guide to having a specific career (unless of course your degree is vocational like medicine or law). I always saw it as an opportunity to just learn in general and develop different skills which were transferable and could be applied to whatever it was that I wanted to do in the future, when I had a bit more direction.
After completing your degree, what steps or actions did you take?
The thing that influenced my decision to get started on what I’m doing now was really more my extracurriculars at university. I was involved in my university’s charities committee which really shaped my desire to work in social enterprise rather than a more corporate setting. From there, I was involved with a sales and marketing internship with a technology company in Hamilton who had developed the technology that Her Energy currently uses. I saw how the technology might be used to support women’s initiatives and suggested that we start Her Energy.
I think it’s all about going for opportunities when you see them!
For me this opportunity was perfect, it allowed me to start a business that had “giving back” at its core, and which had the aim of helping people in the process. It was a win win!