The Entrepreneur: a flexible alternative to the traditional business model

Laurie Matthews set off on her own business adventure after years of ‘eighteen hour days working for someone else.’ Global Women spoke to Laurie as part of our mini-series on flexible alternatives to traditional business practices. We ask about the pros and cons of stepping away from the corporate world and whether gender has had an impact on Laurie’s success.


Dream Experiences

From swimming with whales, driving classic sport cars on the French Riviera, viewing the northern lights in Finland or being treated to the celebrity experiences at home in New Zealand, to being part of rhino relocation and conservation in Africa, these are just some of the dream experiences which are a speciality of Indigo, a company founded by Laurie Matthews. Indigo tailors once-in-a-lifetime journeys for its discerning clients, and creates exclusive experiences in unique locations around the globe, specialising in Africa.

Formerly in public relations and general management for London luxury hotels, Laurie set out on her own 23 years ago. After seeing ‘successful women in their forties, divorced or married to their job,’ she explains. ‘I was tired of eighteen-hour days working for someone else, I wanted to throw myself into something new, someplace else, see more of the world.’

Looking back two decades, did Laurie feel fear leaving a stable job to become an entrepreneur? ‘I had no fear, I just saw the opportunity and took it!’ Laurie says.

The Impact of Gender

Society has changed a lot over the last twenty years, and female entrepreneurship has risen significantly. So how much, if any, impact has Laurie’s gender had on her experience in business? The jury’s out on this one.

‘I have felt excluded in some circles within New Zealand, where men congregate together.’ But, on the other hand, she feels that some ‘CEOs and male managers find it easier to work with a woman in travel and hospitality.’

The Flexibility to Say Yes

Back to the present; has running her own business fulfilled its promise of freeing up some of her time? Yes, indeed it has given me the freedom. ‘It gives me the opportunity to say no!’ she says, even if she still often says ‘yes’.

What it does give her is flexibility of choice, of how much Laurie chooses to take on. ‘I need this flexibility for my creativity,’ Laurie reflects. ‘I don’t know if I could go back to working for someone else, without this flexibility.’

Living and working in St Heliers, Auckland, means that Laurie is just a hop, skip, and a jump to the beach, with views of Rangitoto volcano. It’s a beautiful setting to escape from your desk and unleash those creative juices. And a far cry from those exhausting eighteen-hour days in the city.