Welcome back to the wāhine in business series, this time featuring Sherry Lunjevich. Mum, wife, athlete, health coach, trainer... and since 2021 she can now add business owner to the list!
Read about her journey into co-owning Empire Training Box, and what she has learnt so far.
What is your business and how did you get into it at the start?
I am a Co-Owner of Empire Training Box, which is a functional fitness gym based in Otara. I have been a member at Empire since it first started, and started helping out with creating member events, challenges that eventually lead to taking on an administrator role.
In 2021, Lama (Owner) , who is a good friend of mine, approached me and my husband Robert to become owners at the gym.
What inspired you to start your own business?
I don't have the experience of starting my own business, but taking the step forward to become a co-owner in a business that had already been operating for a number of years was comforting, I had already been a part of the community for a long time, and knew how the business was operating which meant I wasn't going in blind.
At the same time, it gave me a sense of belonging and knowing that once I became a co-owner, I was able to invest more into this business and the community which are very special to me.
What are some of the obstacles that you have faced and how have you overcome these?
Like most businesses over the past 3 years, the pandemic has been an overwhelming obstacle for us. We had to navigate a new way of living at the same time as everyone else around us, and it was very challenging to know whether or not you were doing the right thing.
Fortunately for us, we have some very loyal members in our community who were willing to continue to support our small business through the pandemic. We changed the way we delivered classes, and had to rely on a lot of trust to hand out our gear to members so that they could continue to keep training during this time.
For us, we wanted to ensure that we were still providing a service that was going to be accessible during a time of lockdowns and isolation because we knew that our community needed that release to make it through.
What advice can you give to other women looking to branch out on their own?
My advice would be to make sure it is something you really want, not something you have seen someone else do and think you should be doing that too. If it is not important or valuable to you, it will never work.
The effort and work I have put into this business since becoming a co-owner has never been driven by money, but it has been driven by the fact that I genuinely want to make a difference in this community.
Another piece of advice I would give is to always be willing to learn, and to actively seek opportunities to grow and develop yourself in the process.
You yourself are an inspiration to many women, who has inspired you?
Firstly, my Mum of course. She is the most resilient, and resourceful woman I know. I have watched her navigate our Family through some difficult times, and now that I am an adult (barely lol), I often think back and wonder how my Mum did it all. She inspires me to be a better person, and reminds me of who I am and where I have come from.
Secondly, I am inspired by many women but I am most in awe of business women who I know personally. In particular - Nora Swann, who is a close friend of mine and a thriving Pacific Business Woman. I have watched her work behind the scenes to create platforms for Pacific Fashion, and have witnessed the battles she has overcome in the process. When you can bear witness to someone literally working in action, it is the best form of inspiration.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
My kids! Literally, they are the first people I wake up to in the morning, and the last thing I think of at night.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years I see myself happy, healthy and hopefully living out today's dreams.