Who is 'Chuffed Kiwi'?

Mountains, Queenstown, Remarkables, Girl in photo
📍Skyline, Queenstown

Kia Ora. I guess I'll start with my name? That seems like a safe bet.

Hello, my name is Robyn Kennedy.

Now that the formalities are out of the way, let me give you some background information on my life. My family moved from the UK (where I was born) to New Zealand when I was just 2 months old. I grew up on Auckland's North Shore with my older sister Emily, and the twenty-something other kids who lived on my street.

Growing up I had many hobbies. One day I would be at the skate park with the guys from the street, the next I'd be building something in my dad's shed, or making a website for a company I thought he should start (he didn't). From the ripe old age of 6, I wanted to be a physiotherapist, mainly because it meant I could say "pissed" in conversation without getting into trouble; but as time went on and "pissed" became just a normal word, my heart settled on chiropractic.

High School came around and I started taking woodwork with two of my best friends, it quickly became my favourite subject. I was in extension classes with all the "smart kids", I'm not saying I am/aren't one of them, but damn it's tiring competing for top marks all day every day. Wood tech was my escape, and not to sharpen my own saw, but I was pretty good at it.

Fast forward to June 2017, I went on a school trip run by BCITO (Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation) that took us around varying construction sites. My life plan changed instantly. I knew that there was a place for me somewhere in the boys club that is the building industry. Dropping out of high school at 16 is not something I'd recommend for everyone, and if I'm being honest sometimes I wish I had stayed on. But I couldn't subject myself to another year and a half of school when all I was going for was wood tech and lunch.

The aforementioned school trip was on a Thursday, I got a job interview for the following day, and started my career as a CNC operator/cabinet maker at a kitchen company on Monday. Some may say I'm a little impulsive, and they'd probably be right.

Three months later, I was craving the chance to work with proper trees and real wood, not the lifeless MDF that makes up a kitchen. Scrolling through TradeMe I stumbled upon a job listing for a new Timber Joinery company opening just around the corner; I didn't fully know what joinery was and honestly, I didn't mean to apply for it, but before I knew it my phone was ringing and I had an interview.

The smell of cedar welcomed me as I walked into the tiny workshop, I knew straight away that Next Level Joinery would be my new home. I was their first employee, and dare I say their best apprentice. As the company grew up so did I. Two became four and we quickly outgrew the small factory. Nearly three years later, I was almost qualified, one of four apprentices, and one of two girls. On track to qualify by the time I was 20, everything was going according to plan.

Until this new virus popped up and sent me in a different direction.

During my time at Next Level, my sister introduced me to a podcast "How C*m" and I quickly became hooked on it. The candid conversations around topics that we've been conditioned to shy away from, the taboo conversations that no one was having were being had here. I was in love. So like the fangirl I am, I sent a meme to the host, Remy Kassimir, on Instagram never in a million years was I expecting a reply, let alone one a mere 2 minutes later.

Remy and I quickly became friends, talking almost every day, me giving unsolicited social media advice even though I certainly was no expert. Before I knew it Remy asked me to be her intern and help out with social, and as time went on my list of responsibilities got longer. Juggling working for the podcast and my apprenticeship, my plate was full and I loved it. I was even planning a trip to New York to visit her, before heading to Ibiza for my cousin's wedding. Then Covid happened.

The world stopped. I couldn't build from home, I didn't have any theory work left to do, Joinery was on hold. But the podcast? I was just getting started. Season 3 was about to drop, Remy needed all the help she could get and I had all the time in the world. I buried myself in Season 3, got more involved in the planning, preparation, and research. I was now the producer of a podcast, hosted by a New York City comedian, all the way from little New Zealand (no, not Australia).

I had found what felt like my new calling in life. The fast-paced, different thing everyday digital environment was where I belonged. I still needed to get qualified and have some sort of certificate behind me, but I knew the world had so much more on offer, all I needed to do was get out of New Zealand for a bit.

Granted, 2020 was a rough year for everyone. In fact, that's a huge understatement but I'm not here to talk about the pandemic, rather how it changed my life. In August, my boss announced that our company was facing restructuring as a result of Covid. My job wasn't safe. I was so close to qualifying, I could almost taste it; I just needed to spend some time on bigger jobs of my own. Something that Covid would make much more difficult to do.

I weighed my options, I was very lucky to have the podcast behind me. So when one door started closing I did what a Timber Joiner does best and I made myself a new door, and I love what's behind it.

As of today, I am still the producer of How C*m, I have a certification in Digital Marketing, some experience as a waitress, a little experience in marketing, and most excitingly: a one-way ticket to England via America leaving January 10th.

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