Women and work: Jan Williams

In the Women and Work series women discuss how work fits into their lives. Whether it’s paid work, voluntary or domestic, the shape of it and affect on their lives will be explored. Each woman will answer the same ten questions about their relationship with work.

In this interview, the cool and creative Jan Williams talks about making time for her passion and walking the Inca Trail for Amnesty International.

WAW jan williams

Jan Williams

Your CV makes you look like a gypsy! Words from an HR consultant many years ago as I had worked in a number of roles for 6-12 months and then moved on. My view was why stay in roles where I had no room for advancement or progress? 

So over my working life I have gained experience  across a number of industries with both local and multi-national companies, which in my opinion has only increased my skills and outlook.

Now that I’m in my forties, I want to feed my soul, follow my passion and enjoy my working life. So I am focusing on making my creative dreams my reality. 

When my son broke his leg a few years ago, we spent 10 weeks at home together during his recovery. As you can imagine – numerous activities were needed to preserve our mutual sanity and in my search for cheap/free materials to transform in our arts and crafts sessions – I came across an old bicycle rubber inner tube.  

From that came my first range for my company Rewiti Design – you can go to my Facebook page for more details and view photos of my work.

For the next few months however I am concentrating on my fundraising and fitness – as I will be trekking the Inca Trail up to Machu Picchu in Peru for Amnesty International in August.

If you can help me spread the word or are interested in how you can support my efforts to make a difference for human rights please go to my page on the Amnesty International fundraising site.

How would you describe your current work status and what is it you do?

At the moment I’m focussing on my fundraising and fitness for my upcoming adventure for Amnesty International.

I spent 3 years working for TVNZ in the Maori and Pacific Programmes Department. I’m planning to set up my own business – an artists collective – that will involve mostly handmade and upcycled or repurposed items.

Along with the art collective I’ll be spending more time creating my own work.

What led you to it?

(Your new direction) The need for more flexibility in my working life in terms of my child and my own need for greater satisfaction from my working life.

If a friend wanted to do what you do, what advice would you give her?

Make sure it’s something you’re really passionate about, make sure you have a business plan, work out the costings and how they’re going to support themselves in the initial year when they’re not necessarily going to be making any money.

I’m lucky at the moment, what’s given me the chance to do it is that I’ve got some money from my brother and I don’t have a mortgage.

What purpose does work serve in your life?

For the past 10 years at least up until now it’s paid the bills and helped provide for my son. In the future I want work to address those same things but also allow me to express my creativity and follow passions through various art forms.

Has choosing that (work) meant there are other areas of your life that you don’t dedicate as much time to as you’d like?

In the past working has generally meant I’ve been tied to a 9-5 job and there hasn’t been a lot of time left over for me to create. That’s why I’d like to bring my business and creative energies together.

How do you reconcile that imbalance (in reality or philosophically)?

I’ve taken the opportunities where I’ve could (in terms of time) to create something, such as when my son broke his leg and we had 10 weeks together. From that time, that’s when my first designs for Rewiti Designs. Materials from bikes were recycled to create jewelry.

In your working life, what are the three most powerful skills you possess?

Problem solving, people management, adaptability.

With hindsight, is there anything you wish you’d done differently?

Taken the chance to do what I’m working on now, then. Rather than playing it safe and going for the regular paycheck.

If you could invite three amazing women to dinner at your place who would they be? (they could be from anywhere or any time)

Coco Chanel
Emma Thompson
Dame Whina Cooper

What do you do to relax?

Currently walking which also doubles as prep for my Inca Trails adventure for Amnesty.

rewiti design

Images used with the kind permission of Jan Williams, Rewiti Design


  1. says

    Interesting interview. One of my favorite quotes is “It’s never too late to be what you might have been” by George Eliot. It sounds like Jan is doing something she loves at just the right time in her life despite its jumpstart during her son’s healing. I wish her all the best in her endeavors.

    • Lisa says

      Hi Teresa! Yeah I think the thing that stands out for me is that Jan KNOWS what her passion is and is determined now to live true to it. Just the knowing is something that many people don’t arrive at. It’s also something that struck me about the blogging community – it’s a small, unique environment filled to the brim with people who are following their passion.

    • Lisa says

      Hi Maggie! Exactly! How’s that old proverb go? The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the next best time is now.

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