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May 13, 2021

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To new frontiers

BORN in Malacca, raised in Penang and currently in Queenstown, New Zealand, Natasya Zambri does not seem like someone who would sit idly in one place. To an extent, that is true.

After going to New Zealand to pursue her tertiary education and graduating with a bachelor’s degree in commerce, Natasya then saw herself landing a job as an accountant.

“My then employer wanted me to relocate to Queenstown. He needed me to look after the finance department at one of his other companies and eventually I looked after the finances of four different companies all at once,” she told theSun.

At another juncture in her life, Natasya then moved on to starting a new venture, Bright Ink, a mobile bookstore that she began with her business partner Annie Buscemi.

“We met at our former workplace and used to hang out after work/during the weekends for brunches and outdoor fun,” she said.

How and when did the two of you come up with the idea of a mobile bookstore?

We came up with the idea in August 2020, after attending a weekly Spanish class. We were chatting about what to do next with our lives and found this shared passion we had.

We want to spread the message that each person has something to offer the world. We want to spread the beautiful message of how bright each and every one of us can be once we know how to express ourselves.

Queenstown is such a touristy place and I think the pandemic has made us realise there is a need to provide a secondhand bookshop and creative space where people of all ages are able to express themselves and create something as simple as words on a piece of paper.

What did the two of you have to do in order to get Bright Ink up and running?

We started by having a meeting in my home, to pin down our goals and mission and why we wanted to do this in the first place. The biggest questions were “Where do we start?” and “How are we going to get the help we need?”

The search for a perfect van started in August, (and) by September, things were in full business mode.

By the end of November, we ran a four-week crowdfunding campaign via PledgeMe. Our target was to reach a minimum of NZD$7,000 (RM20,305) (and we) received more than half of the minimum target amount within 24 hours.

We closed the campaign a week before Christmas and successfully raised a total of NZD$7,130 (RM20,682). The funds from the campaign were used to convert the van and buy our first stock of books.

In December, we brought home our Nissan Caravan. We started to make plans for the van and worked hard to open the shop by mid-February.

Was it a tough decision to leave your old job behind and then move into a venture such as Bright Ink?

I quit my job prior to Covid-19 and the big lockdown. I was actually on track to continue my studies in Manchester. The original plan was to visit home in May, fly to the UK in September 2020 and come back to New Zealand the year after for a job before my visa expires in late 2021. Then New Zealand closed its border.

I did not want to risk the possibility of not being able to return to this beautiful country. So, I decided to stay.

Quitting my job and spending some time off was the break I needed. I was such a workaholic, I started working directly after uni and never took annual leave when I worked with my previous employer.

How does Bright Ink operate? Which areas in New Zealand does the bookstore-van cover?

We sell secondhand books and intend to provide a creative space to promote the artwork of local artist. We selectively curate titles in a variety of genres. We have general fiction, memoirs, non-fiction, adventure, crime and thriller, young adult and children’s books.

We open four days a week and are currently stationed at Country Lane on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. On Saturdays, we join the local farmers market called the Remarkables Market. We have visited other places within the Lakes District such as Wanaka.

What were the challenges Bright Ink has faced so far?

The most challenging part so far has been arranging the work on the van and designing the interior.

We have learned a lot in a very short amount of time. We are always happy to accept support, advice and assistance from our peers and fellow business owners.

Annie and I are so lucky to have a combination of different skill sets and I think that’s where we complement each other the most as business partners.

Moving forward, what is in store for Annie and yourself in regard to Bright Ink’s future?
Bright Ink’s future plans include having our very own brick-and-mortar shop with our van parked outside. We want to be one of the pioneers in providing a safe, creative space in Queenstown.

Do you have advice for those seeking to follow in your footsteps?

Do not be afraid to do something that is different from what others, especially your peers, are doing. Everybody has their own thing and timeline. I know when you’re young and fresh from college/university, there seems
to be a rush to go in the
same direction everybody is heading.

If you have something that you’re passionate about, start planning to execute your ideas. The first steps are always the hardest, scariest and most intimidating but do not let this get in between you and your dreams.

Surround yourself with uplifting, motivating and inspiring people. Most importantly, do your research!

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