National | Business

Wāhine-led landscaping company hopes to provide opportunities for Māmā

Photo / Supplied

By Eva Wilson, Te Rito journalism cadet

Milaan Hart, of Ngāti Kahungunu, co-owner of wāhine-led landscaping company ‘Ladies who Lawn’ aspires to challenge what employing a landscaping garden company traditionally looks like. From hardscaping and using heavy machinery, right down to providing maintenance, the Auckland-based business opens a door for women into a male-dominated industry through its community-engaged workplace.

Hart says education, above-living wage incomes and free childcare are all part of the deal when it comes to supporting women to be financially independent.

“We take our ladies to work with us to train them up and provide them with an income that is above the living wage. We all know how much it costs to live these days, and how important it is for everyone to have the opportunity to live as they desire and for all children to have opportunities.”

Exploring the ngahere, Milaan Hart (left) with Soul, Luca, Tahlia and Beth.  Photo / Supplied

Hart, who co-owns the business with fellow ex-teacher Rosie Lawless, says the company has never been about making money but about helping others to be financially independent.

“Providing the knowledge and the skills for free, every business has the opportunity to do that. Let's be real, if teachers of 13 years - you know how much they make - can start something like this, big businesses can definitely do this. They can provide space for women and their children.”

The company has already paired with a women's safe housing site, with support from Mitre 10, to provide “an outdoor area for kids over summer and create a safe space for them to play and spend time with their whānau”.

Its name reflects the nature of their business, with Hart referring to the company as a “play” on traditional roles and how their business mirrors “ladies who lunch”.

“Women getting together and being in company with one another and enjoying one another, while at the same time growing and learning together.”

After leaving roles as teachers after the introduction of vaccine mandates, they are examples of how a change in career direction can inspire growth.

“This is my personal choice, and so I left my job. I don't feel as though I was forced out of my job. I took that option and I use the skills that I have to create something new.”

“We provide space for the children, for kai for their table, and work and money for their pockets.”

Ladies who Lawn plan to expand their company by taking on new kaimahi from their community in West Auckland.

“We plan to grow. We have a five-year plan where we want to provide opportunities for ten women each year. So that's going to mean we double our resources every year.”