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"Is today a good day to die?" asks speaker

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

If today isn’t a good day to die, you just aren’t living life to its full potential, says Davey Hughes. The unconventional founder of outdoor clothing lable Swazi will speak at the first of Napier City Council’s Business Breakfass for 2018. He promises to help his Hawke’s Bay audience find the fun in what they do for a living, every minute of every day.

"Each morning I recite my mantra - ‘Today is a good day to die’", Davey tells. And it’s certainly true that the so-called "Swazi Man" has packed a lot into his life so far. His CV would rival Bear Grylls’ - from working as a simple animal trapper, to travelling the world hunting caribou in the Arctic Circle and buffalo in Tanzania. "I’d spent years as a trapper living in the bush and when the skin market crashed, the one thing I was an expert at was getting wet and cold," tells Davey of his first steps into the clothing market. "I started Swazi in my garage, drawing on my trapping experience, to create garments that would keep people who work in the outdoors dry and warm."

He’s also an expert in running a business out of the regions, with Swazi headquartered in Levin since its inception. "When we first opened in Levin, it was the apparel capital of New Zealand." Was he ever tempted to transfer to the Big Smoke? "I did once have the idea of moving it to Murchison… is that a ‘Big Smoke’ kind of place?" Davey - who sports a mane of wild blonde hair - quips.

Among the business learnings he’ll share with his audience at the Napier Conference Centre on Friday 23 February, is "that people are more fascinating than margins".

"At Swazi, we’re whanau, which means that from time to time, we do have the odd barney, but on the whole we watch each other’s backs. We feel like we are all in this together, working towards a common goal."

Having developed and built an acclaimed brand and business, Davey’s focus is now shifting to the next generation. He’s keen to introduce kids to the rough-and-ready adventures he remembers from his youth. The skills learned outdoors, Davey says, are applicable throughout your life, and in business too. "How to skin a mountain lion, how to survive being charged by three grizzly bears at one time…" he laughs. "And how to discern what is important and what is not, how fun has to be your key driver - whether in life or business - and that people matter more than the bottom line. Also, that innovation does not have to be a big bang theory but can be a progressive and incremental evolution of ideas, thoughts and failures which lead to eureka moments!"

Tickets for the Napier City Council Business Breakfast are $20 and the ticket price includes a light breakfast. Registrations are essential and can be completed through the NCC website: The Napier City Council Business Breakfast is a quarterly networking event hosted by NCC’s Economic Development team, in partnership with NCC Communications and Marketing. The breakfast begins at 7am and closes at 8:30am.

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