Hedgend Maze is a family run business purchased by Anthony and Lea Bowen in 2007. We actually bought the property initially because of the stunning views (views make my heart melt), but the pre existing tourist business was part of the package, too. The business was already structured with a few attractions that were in need of some new energy. But I am such a visionary, I saw this adventure as a blank canvass, as if Hedgend herself was waiting patiently for its artist in residence to begin to paint!
Our son William at the front entry, 2007
So Anth and I began our story, trading as it was, changing slightly in areas, exploring and understanding what this property can offer. We needed at least 1 – 2 years up our sleeve to understand the nature of tourism, weather, the foundations of the property and of course how to manage a 7 day business. It was a massive learning curve. We had everything thrown at us, some good, some rotten, but all in all, it was the learning we were grateful for. The learning that could only lead us to clarity of what we do want and what we do not want in life. It also gave us clarity in the area of relationships with not only ourselves, but our gorgeous children, friends and our amazing staff.
I really need to thank Donna Donovan from the Shire of Yarra Ranges for my introduction into business within the Valley. She opened my eyes in so many areas, particularly in two areas. One being Sustainability, the other becoming a confident woman in business. I would present myself in many of her events from marketing your business, interactive media, networking, women’s forums, women’s forums and more women’s forums. I could ask her anything about the business world (no matter how stupid), and respectfully answer and open up my eyes to her wealth of business knowledge. But it was a general email she sent out to her data base that took me on the next biggest learning I am ever so grateful for. She was offering all businesses an opportunity to study a new and exciting course the Shire was facilitating. The course was called ‘Business in Sustainability’ and I convinced straight away, this was for our business. I wanted align myself with like minded people. People who cared about the future resources and opportunities, and how that can impact trade in a positive way. How our business can maximise this term ‘sustainability’ and how to create posture within our industry. There are so many reasons for businesses in a community not to go down this track, but thankfully, for us, the reasons to endure this change and knowledge super-seeded many, many times over. I feel now, that our motivation for Hedgend Maze will be one that can outlast other businesses in the same industry, because of our vision and desire to change and research and see this as opportunity and most importantly share this knowledge with others. We will never be stuck, never be reliant on precious resources that are literally costing the earth and provide a resource in the community of how this change can be taken in successful steps.
So I completed the Sustainable Business Program in 2009 and was awarded Sustainable Leader within our Shire. I was so excited. What a great 12 month journey! So with that under my belt, it was time practise what you preach and begin this adventure and help make it become conscious change in all areas of Hedgend Maze. I began with the simplest things… asking suppliers where they sourced their stock. Was it local, made under licence? Can I have proof no child labour has been involved in making certain products? Sadly there wasn’t a list of basic questions available for me to question my suppliers. Some got quite anxious and even angry that I was interested in this type of knowledge of their stock. I had to delve in deep and inquire a lot to get to a level where I was happy. Well actually I wasn’t happy, because my shelves became sparse. But happy to let them go, not trade with these companies anymore. No one could supply me with the old stock I had been getting for the the past two years. So we haven’t really gone down the area of a shop yet, because this is something that I really need to do a lot of homework in. So I kept moving through the easy changes first. Our staff embraced to change. We were measuring water usage, composting waste sorting, heaps of minor things that we just consciously made an effort to change our behaviour in. Was that simple. We have been making many changes, but now we are ready to encounter massive change in our park. And this is where the idea of this blog takes place. I want to share our trials and tribulations to make this journey a resource for you. A learning tool to ripple our love and urgency to create change in all areas of businesses, schools, homes and communities in support of sustainability and add power and value in our choice, too! Its going to be an exciting journey, so pull up a chair and hold on tight, its going to be a roller coaster ride!