Lainey Founder of Rocket Fuel Design smiling at her Desk

Rocket Fuel Design In The News

Seriously, It’s My Business: Entrepreneur and Mother Helps Fuel Design Dreams

This article was directly taken and republished with permission from Stuff NZ

Seriously, it’s My Business is a series where the Manawatū Standard profiles young Palmerston North people who’ve struck out on their own and started their own business.

A Palmerston North designer, entrepreneur and mother is helping fuel the dreams of other young creative women after her own took flight.

Rocket Fuel Design founder Lainey Te Whatu, 34, knows how hard it can be for young women to find their place in the industry, so is sharing her experience and resources to mentor at least one design and marketing student a year through the start of their career.

Te Whatu set up her design, marketing and social media company and took on the firm’s first client when she was eight months pregnant with her first-born, Andre, in October 2015.

She wanted to be her own boss and work from home by the time he arrived, so she could have the flexibility to take care of him and be there for major milestones , no matter what.

“The bank manager looked at me like I was nuts when I waddled in… She asked: ‘Are you sure this is a good time to be doing this?’ But it’s worked out really well.”

Te Whatu had been employed as a designer at other people’s companies for years by that point, always planning how to strike out on her own, but never feeling ready for Rocket Fuel to fire up.

Then she picked up freelance work so she wouldn’t go nuts with boredom during her maternity leave and the ball got rolling.

“Something clicks inside you when your pregnant and you’ve got to get everything done. Instead of nesting with my home, I did it with my business.”

Four years later, her business has grown and has a broad client base, both in Palmerston North and overseas. And so has her family, with the recent addition her 3-month-old daughter Hunter.

Now she is established, Te Whatu wants to help younger designers, particularly young women, make it too, starting with helping them find work where they can use their passion and training through Massey University’s internship programme.

“The top animation student from when I was doing my degree there was working in Burger Fuel afterwards. I always thought that was a bit stink.”

Third-year marketing student Kate Fisher, 21, joined Rocket Fuel in February and Te Whatu will be taking another young woman under her wing next year.

Fisher did so well that Te Whatu quickly offered her young protege a paying job.

Fisher said she’d always had a passion for design, and it was inspiring to learn from another woman who was deftly managing a design business and raising a family.

“It’s something a lot of women worry about being able to do, but Lainey’s found a good balance.”

Fisher plans to move home to Taranaki next year, and Te Whatu was providing her with resources, tips and support as she learns how to land her own clients.

The idea was to get Fisher ready and equipped to eventually head out on her own, but support herself by working full-time for Rocket Fuel from a distance in the meantime.

“It’s awesome, I’ve done other internships and haven’t got as much out of it as I have with Lainey.”

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