The Secret to Surviving and Thriving in Business
Having survived twenty five years in the fashion industry, Annah’s leadership journey is a powerful narrative about disruption and continuous reinvention.
From her start-up days as a wholesaler to New Zealand fashion chain stores, to the successful designer, manufacturer and nation-wide retailer that she is today, Annah knows what it takes to survive and grow through all stages of the business cycle. But it didn’t stop there. An entrepreneur well known for both her business acumen and her philanthropic heart, Annah set up her own foundation in 2012 as part of her succession plan. This enabled Annah to identify new challenges and look for new solutions for some of New Zealand’s more pressing social and fiscal problems.
Annah’s widely recognised achievements in the social ventures space once again showcase her ability to connect, lead and empower through new thinking and adaptive processes.
Generating profit with a purpose
The Stretton Foundation, RAW and Kia Puawai.
Alongside her twenty five years in the fashion industry Annah has been an active supporter and contributor to many of New Zealand’s well-loved philanthropic organisations. Back in 2012, Annah took her philanthrophic ventures to a whole new level with the establishment of the Stretton Foundation as a vehicle to drive change for the socially disadvantaged in New Zealand. The first of these initiatives was RAW (Reclaim Another Woman) where Annah has targeted highly recidivist female (and now male) offenders from inside the country’s prisons, and enabled real life change through relocation away from previous disruptive influencers and environments, incubated living and education scholarships. This model is unique to New Zealand and the first of its kind, and it has had some huge results for the men and women that have elected to relocate and take part.
Her second initiative is Kia Puawai, a charitable trust set up to enable mainstream New Zealanders to access best practice wellness environments in order to get real change around their nutrition, movement and mindfulness. Her goal is to bring wellness practices to the masses with a particular focus on Maori – a demographic that is poorly represented in key health indicators.
Annah is slowly setting up her social venture empire, taking advantage of all that the fashion industry has taught her, and transferring her skill base to get real outcomes for some of New Zealand’s largest challenges. Her story is one of success and failure, trial and error and disruptive and adaptive leadership, as she challenges the status quo and embraces new normals to drive social change in this country.
HEALTH & WELLBEING
Annah’s journey of wellness – Te Atawhai and Kia Puawai
Why do we do what we do, when we know what we know?
Over the last two years Annah has been on a massive journey of wellness. Like most New Zealanders Annah watched her weight (albeit not very well) endeavoured to add movement to her day, and had started to harness the power of her mind but it remained a constant struggle until she went on a wellness retreat, first in New Zealand and then in Australia, and finally everything started to make sense.
What the mind believes, the body will achieve.
Working with one hundred women every day in varying capacities, she distilled her learnings down to a series of small changes that could amplify their quality of life and their productivity – simple things like reducing coffee, alcohol and sugar, applying an 80/20 principle to their lives, understanding their body and how it worked, increasing their movement in an achievable way and practicing more around being in the present (mindfulness.) Such was the strength of her learnings that Annah went on to set up her own small wellness retreat in Te Aroha – Te Atawhai – a place where those that wanted change could come for four days of best practice nutrition, movement and mindfulness experiences. But more than this, knowing that ‘retreats’ were traditionally the domain of the moneyed set and acknowledging that most people won’t see their health as important until a catalyst occurs, she set up Kia Puawai, a charitable trust that secures funding to enable mainstream New Zealand (with particular focus on Maori) to access these life changing retreat platforms.
The model works! Te Atawahi guests have experienced some real and dramatic changes to their health and wellbeing by adopting a series of simple but powerful lifestyle practices. Annah is keen to share these practices and strategies to empower your organisation, enabling a re-focus for your group or team on the way they live their lives, and see the world – isn’t it time that we all lived the best life ever?
Please extend our appreciation of Annah’s time last week. Her talk was excellent and so well pitched for the audience of girls and their mums. We are very happy that she came to visit us.
In addition to an interesting and inspiring talk, we raised a few hundred dollars for our local Breast Cancer Foundation.
Julia Beaumont – Havelock North Intermediate School
Annah Stretton & Ina; so powerful and inspirational. All women had great stories but Annah has used her influence (and financial success) to make real social difference. Best of luck to Ina; so hope she can find and achieve her dream.
Gillian Patterson – Attendee at RISE 2016 Wellington
Good morning Annah,
It is us that has to say many thanks to you, Ina and Gina for being part of our conference as keynote speakers.
You and the girls were amazing. As I was told there would not be a dry eye and there wasn’t. Comments I have heard included – ‘they lifted the level of speakers at our conferences’, ‘inspirational’, ‘I will look at people in a different light now’. You and the girls were certainly a highlight of our conference.
Your message has now reached another 320 people.
In friendship, Evelyn
Evelyn – Inner Wheel Conference: Christchurch, April 2016
What an emotional but inspiring start to the day! The work Annah is doing with the RAW foundation is obviously having a positive effect. I felt incredibly privileged to hear Gina and Ina stand and tell their stories in such an articulate way and I thank them sincerely for their courage. I suspect they never realized they would ever inspire so many women.’ Many thanks Liz
Liz Mills – Ballantynes, April 2016
Annah brings enthusiasm and pragmatism in speaking about why RAW is important, and how she has got the programme to achieve concrete outcomes for the women it works with. Gina and Ina’s stories were honest (and brutal); they gave us a real understanding of how difficult it is for a recidivist offenders to break the cycle of crime if they have no other option but to return home a toxic environment. I really admire the strength these woman showed revealing their difficult pasts and the hope and excitement they have for their futures. I think everyone in the room was left pondering how we can contribute to something bigger and wider reaching than a profit margin. What amazing ladies!
Jess Fiebig – Constituent & Community Liaison, April 2016
Danielle and I absolutely loved the event this morning. All 3 speakers were brilliant, relatable and spoke from the heart. There were numerous times where we were both fighting back the tears! As a woman, I really feel that this is a positive step in the right direction and really commend Annah for her success with the programme to date.
We will definitely be actively supporting R.A.W. from this point forward.
Pip Bradford – Prestige Property Management, April 2016
Annah provided us with an outstanding key note address for our conference. Her sharp mind and her business acumen was strongly evident and very inspirational for our audience. It is not an exaggeration to say that everyone was hanging off her every word for the whole of her presentation. After she left, many people commented to me that they wanted more time to ask questions, further proving the extent to which she engaged the audience. Annah also did a fantastic job at crafting her presentation so that it paired perfectly with the topics we had asked her to talk to and which were relevant for our audience. Annah’s story is fascinating and her presentation for us was top notch.
Vanessa Frost – Lumino, April 2016
Annah Stretton was a panellist at the Auckland Women Lawyers’ Association (AWLA) Criminal Justice Forum on Domestic Violence held in March 2016. Prompted by the Government’s release of the public discussion document titled “Strengthening New Zealand’s legislative response to family violence” in 2015, AWLA assembled leaders from different areas of the criminal justice sector to share their opinions and experiences on how to address this multi-dimensional problem.Annah was joined on the panel by the Manukau Crown Solicitor Natalie Walker, Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue, newly-appointed Solicitor-General Una Jagose, Police Superintendent Tusha Penny, and Labour MP Jacinda Ardern. Panellists spoke to the topic from various perspectives – be it prosecutorial, judicial, policy, police, or social justice – and touched on proposed legislative changes, the approach of the courts, and new initiatives targeting domestic violence.Annah is a confident and powerful speaker who inspired the audience by describing how her charity “RAW” is making a huge change in the lives of the “invisible demographic” of recidivist female offenders.Ms Stretton encouraged everyone to think about what they could do – to find something they are passionate about and do something towards making a change – and her own example is certainly proof that, with enough will, this can be done.Inspired by RAW’s maxim “If you can’t help 100 people, then just help one”, AWLA has made a financial contribution to RAW and wishes Annah and the team at RAW all the best with the successful implementation of the second stage of the RAW pilot.
Anita Killeen, Barrister, and Chair of the Auckland Women Lawyers’ Association Criminal Justice Forum on Domestic Violence, March 2016
“Live Life In Colour brings an unseen collaboration of inspirational stories brought together, triggering a realism that we are all so capable of making our lives that much more ‘colourful’. From self-belief through to distinguishing stereotypes, do not make the mistake that this is just another fashion event – It’s not!From business start-up through to the undeniably thought provoking stories from previously incarcerated women that are now a part of RAW, Live Life In Colour is an event that makes you stop and take action.RAW is the most single-most impactive step, in giving recidivist female criminals a pathway forward, that NZ has ever seen and it’s a privilege to get to hear the stories of these women.”
Kate Webb, March 2016
I was so impressed with the RAW work. I was privileged to sit next to Awhea. She blew me away how beautiful she was in every sense of the word. To come into that environment and converse so competently, through dinner, with people who would be right outside her comfort zone was astonishing. I nearly fell of my chair when she said she had been out of prison for 4 months, I had expected so much longer. I have been to some of our prisons, not the woman’s prison, as part of my work and it is always disturbing. I always come away thinking we will NEVER rehabilitate anyone from this environment. RAW is the proof that, provide a different environment, and miracles happen. I noticed a few of the woman were wiping away tears when speaking to the girls that Anna brought with her. It is certainly incredibly powerful seeing and hearing Anna’s guests as part of her presentation. I have a number of brochures and will certainly be spreading the word and trying to get furniture etc directed RAW way.It is truly inspiring work that you are all doing. I have talked about it today and everyone is very interested.
Margaret Cain, March 2016
Interest generated about RAW (Reclaim Another Woman) at the presentation given by Annah Stretton to Women on Boards New Zealand Waikato last night was overwhelming. Annah is clearly passionate about supporting women caught up in the prison system to make life changes. This is not only beneficial to the women involved but for all New Zealand as, through education, they harness their skills and abilities to once again become contributing members of our community.However, as Annah said in her presentation, RAW needs the support of all of us to fund the project and the incubator houses. I highly recommend RAW as a valuable and worthwhile organisation to support, whether that is through donations to https://givealittle.co.nz/org/reclaimanotherwoman, furniture for the houses – contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting the In Excess store at 92 Commerce Street, Frankton, Hamilton.
Linda Noble Chief Executive – Governance New Zealand & Women on Boards, November 2015
We had the absolute pleasure of Annah Stretton addressing the Newmarket Rotary Club earlier this year to educate our members about the RAW programme. She a confident and passionate speaker and what she and her team are achieving with vulnerable and abused women is nothing short of outstanding. A great nationwide support initiative is something that really resonates with Rotary and we hope to have Annah keep us updated on RAW’s progress in the coming months.
Richard Holden, President, Newmarket Rotary, December 2014
If you are interested in having Annah motivate and inspire the audience at your next function, contact us today.