The Secret to Surviving and Thriving in Business
Having survived twenty five years in the fashion industry, Annah’s leadership journey is a powerful narrative about disruption and continuous reinvention.
From her start-up days as a wholesaler to New Zealand fashion chain stores, to the successful designer, manufacturer and nation-wide retailer that she is today, Annah knows what it takes to survive and grow through all stages of the business cycle. But it didn’t stop there. An entrepreneur well known for both her business acumen and her philanthropic heart, Annah set up her own foundation in 2012 as part of her succession plan. This enabled Annah to identify new challenges and look for new solutions for some of New Zealand’s more pressing social and fiscal problems.
Annah’s widely recognised achievements in the social ventures space once again showcase her ability to connect, lead and empower through new thinking and adaptive processes.
Generating profit with a purpose -
The Stretton Foundation, RAW and Kia Puāwai.
Right from the beginning, Annah has been an active supporter and contributor to many of New Zealand’s well-loved charities. Back in 2012, however, Annah took her philanthropy to a whole new level with the establishment of the Stretton Foundation as a vehicle to drive social change. It was time to take advantage of all that the fashion industry had taught her to generate real outcomes for some of New Zealand’s largest challenges.
Her first social venture was RAW (Reclaim Another Woman) which is focused on breaking the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage by helping female offenders transition from a life of crime to a life of promise through education, employment and intensive peer support. Her second, Kia Puāwai, is focused on redefining the road to better health and wellbeing in the workplace, and in the community, by introducing simple, seamless and sustainable edits to your lifestyle. Her third, The Good Collective, aims to supercharge the effectiveness, community impact and long-term sustainability of the Waikato charitable sector through the creation of our one-stop-collaboration hub.
Annah's story is one of success and failure, trial and error and disruptive and adaptive leadership, as she challenges the status quo and embraces new normals to drive social change in this country.
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Your bravery absolutely blew me away and the change you have made is such an inspiration for me.
I saw Annah, Charlotte and Kylie speak today in Tauranga. You were all very busy afterwards but I wanted to thank you Annah for your amazing and inspiring work you are doing. My business partner and I talk all the time about giving back and what a lofty inspiration you provide for people like us. But most of all, I wanted to thank Charlotte and Kylie. Your bravery absolutely blew me away and the change you have made is such an inspiration for me. The ability to overcome adversity is such a skill. And you both have not only overcome it, you have smashed it. Thank you. Your stories will stay with me for a very long time.
Bernadette, 6th December 2018
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed learning about RAW and the amazing support it gives to our disadvantaged and less fortunate young female population.
On behalf of the Friendship Club of Glenview would you please pass on to Annah our thanks for the wonderful presentation she and the girls gave to us on Monday. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed learning about RAW and the amazing support it gives to our disadvantaged and less fortunate young female population - what an innovation and passionate project to set up, we all applaud this initiative.
Max, Kylie and Charlotte gave us very moving accounts of their journeys in life - they deserve every success now after embracing Annah and her RAW team's programme. It's not easy to share your difficult past with a room full of strangers but they all spoke so well.
We will certainly support the RAW Op Shop and give items to help fund the foundation.
Friendship Club of Glenview
14th November 2018
You are truly amazing with the work you are doing!
You are truly amazing with the work you are doing! I just wanted to let you know once again how thankful I was for being given the opportunity to speak to the young mums at Fraser, and for the opportunity to meet you and read your amazing book! I know your book has set the wheels in motion for changing my life, and hopefully the lives of many others through the work I intent to do! I will encourage everyone I meet to get a copy of it – it is something I know I will refer to over and over.
Levarna Wolland, Owner/Manager,
Belles & Brides
24th September 2018
Annah’s passion for RAW’s vision and participants was absolutely stimulating. The women themselves and their stories, inspirational.
I was privileged to attend a RAW presentation recently. Annah’s passion for RAW’s vision and participants was absolutely stimulating. The women themselves and their stories, inspirational. I was left with many thoughts including the following:
- Belief – Sometimes we need to be the person that unconditionally and actively believes in someone else before they will believe in themselves.
- Time – Time is often the greatest gift we can give someone else. Time can help us heal.
- Education – Will open the door to many successes.
- Learning – Failure helps us learn and get one step closer to success.
- Authenticity – When we share authentically and honestly, it can have an impact on others as well as ourselves.The power of listening – Many answers come through listening rather than talking.
- Courage – Change takes courage and time.
- Persistence – Luck has little to do with success. Its all hard work and commitment.
- Celebration – Success should be celebrated no matter how small.
- Heart – None of what has been achieved by RAW as an organisation and as individuals would have been achieved without passion and heart.
Kia hora te marino, Kia whakapapa pounamu te moana, kia tere te Kārohirohi i mua i tōu huarahi
May the calm be widespread, May the ocean glisten as greenstone, May the shimmer of light ever dance across your pathway.
Resource Teacher of Learning and Behaviour,
Cluster 16 , Fraser High School
11th September 2018
These stories will have opened the eyes and hearts of many in the room.
It was so lovely to get to work and see your email. I really enjoyed your presentation yesterday and have been thinking about it a lot. Mostly I have thinking about how culturally appropriate your model is. That’s one of the reasons you are getting the ladies to commit to the programme and why so many are successful. ‘You believe in them and value their thoughts, opinions and ideas. Some of them may not have had this before. The authenticity of the ladies sharing their own stories and hope took so much courage. These stories will have opened the eyes and hearts of many in the room. Celebrating their success will just give them more and more reasons to keep on going in the right direction. My thoughts yesterday came directly from my heart.
Thank you for believing. It really does make a difference.
Resource Teacher of Learning and Behaviour,
Cluster 16 , Fraser High School
7th September 2018
There was barely a dry eye in the house and it’s fair to say that all of us who attended were deeply affected by the women who presented.
We would like to sincerely thank you for your support of the Mental Health Luncheon with Annah Stretton and the RAW women yesterday. There was barely a dry eye in the house and it’s fair to say that all of us who attended were deeply affected by the women who presented. Thank you on their behalf for your generosity and the offers for practical help – all very much valued by the team at RAW.
Yours in health,
Mel, Trisha, Glenn, Nika, Lucelle, Greg & Megan - Farm Source Health and Safety Leaders – 20th August 2018
Annah and the women of RAW, who have defied statistics and the low expectations of society, instead have started to fly.
Ma te huruhuru, ka rere te manu (adorn the bird with feathers so it can fly). The RAW organisation is a true reflection of this proverb and Waikato Police Women’s Advisory Network were very privileged to recently hear the journeys of Annah Stretton and the women of RAW, who have defied the statistics and the low expectations placed upon them by society, instead they have started to fly. For many of the police women and RAW women present, it was a mutually significant interaction, each letting go of stereotypes and stigma, to move towards a place of trust, understanding and support. To Annah and the women of RAW we really appreciate you giving of your time and sharing of your experiences. We wish you the very best for your exciting futures. “Mauria te pono” Believe in yourself!!!!
Sergeant Renee Leth - Supervisor, Investigation Support Unit, Hamilton City, Waikato Police District – 7th August 2018
We’re so impressed with the wonderful outcomes that Annah & the RAW foundation are achieving. It was a pleasure to meet her and to hear the heartfelt stories.
Please pass on our sincere thanks for the great presentation that she did this morning for our Riverside Rebus Club. Our members were so impressed with the wonderful outcomes that she & her RAW foundation are achieving. It was a pleasure to meet her & to hear the heartfelt life stories of Charlotte, Max, Maddy & Melissa. We wish them well for their futures. Our members are happy to donate goods to the RAW shop to assist this life changing cause. Hopefully too to help with the visiting supervisor roles. My grateful thanks to you too for helping me finalise the arrangements for Annah’s talk.
Susan Seath - Riverside Rebus Club – 18th July 2018