Our Stories: Mariken O'Donnell

Written by Jen Hacker.

While many are struggling to find the positive from months of isolating, Mariken O’Donnell found her silver lining right at the start. The Mum of Mariken ODonnelltwo says that lockdown has had unexpected benefits for her family. “My son has severe allergies,” she says. “He was really sick at the beginning of the year and then COVID hit and he’s been really healthy!”

On top of juggling family priorities, her own business and volunteering on the NZBWN board, Mariken has become a keen advocate for allergy awareness in recent years. She volunteers with UK-based charities, Anaphylaxis Campaign and Allergy UK. “My objective in being a mum and doing all this is to raise awareness that it really is life-threatening,” says Mariken.

“People tend to think that if you’ve got anti-histamines or even an epi-pen that it’ll just be fine, but that’s just not true,” she says. “If someone says “I’ve got a nut allergy” then we need to go “This is serious. Let me protect you”.”

Mariken has also started a social media page, Nutfree Adventures, to show the community that allergies don’t have to stop you from living a life that you love. “As long as you’re vigilant and prepared, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t lead a full, adventurous life.”

Our Stories: Melissa Clark-Reynolds

Written by Bronwyn Huband.

As the only one at her all-girls school, in 1979 New Zealand, who wanted to do code, Melissa Clark-Reynolds, was bussed to a boys’ school to learn, because of course it was only a class for boys.Melissa Clark Reynolds

Back then there were no computers in schools and each week the class would write their code and send it Wellington, and a week later a note would arrive back to say if the code worked or not.

Fast forward to 2020 and Melissa is now an accomplished futurist – in other words, she looks for patterns that other people can’t see to help predict what may happen in the future.

Things like:

  • Amazon buying Whole Foods,
  • The economic impact of the pandemic,
  • Changing demand on production systems for farmers (e.g. no GMO, Grass fed, carbon positive meat).

“That’s my super power. It’s more about culture anthropology with maths behind it, so a focus on people with an added focus on data.”

Our Stories: Jessie Scoullar

Written by Jen Hacker.

Like so many of us, work changed a lot for Jessie Scoullar in 2020. After losing a few projects at the beginning of lockdown, she turned her talents towards helping others and got involved with Help Musicians UK, a charity that provides support for artists.Jessie Scoullar

In a time when work is dwindling, she’s been flat out for the past few months. “I think I’ve worked with about 50 artists, helping them build a foundation to grow engagement with their fans,” Jessie said.

In her role as a mentor, Jessie helps newer artists and those less established online to find ways of expanding and creating special products and experiences for their fans. This is especially important now that touring and appearances have all been put on hold. As she says “Bands gotta make money.”

Starting out as an artist management assistant, Jessie worked with some of the biggest names in the New Zealand music scene. “My first experience with artists in NZ was with Bic Runga when she was recording her album, Birds,” she said. “I was just driving them around and getting them lunch,” she shrugs, but with names like Neil Finn, Anika Moa and Shayne Cartner it was a stellar start.

Jessie moved to London in 2007, following her two older sisters and a lot of friends all embarking on their OE. Once she arrived in London, Jessie began working for PRS for music where she stayed for two years before accepting voluntary redundancy.

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