KellyJohnson

Meet Kelly Johnson; Mentee and Founder of Her Energy

After graduating from university, Kelly knew she wanted to work in the social enterprise space and to experience the challenge of starting her own business. She formed her company Her Energy in November 2019 with a mission to shake up the electricity industry and turn a necessity into a force for good.

As a mentee and active member of the OneUpOneDown community, we asked Kelly to share her amazing vision and the skills she’s looking to strengthen through mentorship to help her get there:

In 1-2 sentences, what do you do?

I have started an electricity retailer that redistributes a large portion of our profits back to women’s initiatives and wants to turn a necessity that everyone pays for into an opportunity to give back at no extra cost. I guess you could say I use power to empower women!

Why did you sign up to be a part of One Up One Down?

I saw a post about OneUpOneDown on a Facebook group and thought it sounded amazing! The opportunity for female mentorship is great and it was not something I had easy access to in my industry.

Which professional development area are you working on at the moment and why?

To be honest, I’m a bit of a jack of all trades at the moment so it feels like I’m constantly learning about anything and everything. However, I would say my focus at the moment is on marketing, networking, and learning how to build personal relationships with communities as that’s something I really want to establish with Her Energy. I would love a sense of community to be fostered, especially when people can give back to more local initiatives!

Which personal development area are you most working on at the moment and why?

How to keep the momentum going! It can be quite tiring doing everything yourself when you’re starting a business (as I’m sure a lot of people know) so it’s about striking a balance between looking after yourself but making sure you stay on your game and don’t let opportunities slip away from you.

What does success mean to you? 

For me, success means being able to give back to initiatives on a large scale. An average household with us will donate around $35 a year, so to get to the point where there are thousands of dollars being redistributed back to initiatives would be amazing. From there, I would love to just continue to grow and get more donations coming through to more initiatives!

How do you align with your definition of success at the moment?

We are doing everything that we can to give back as much as possible to our initiatives. The redistribution of our profits is done using a specific rate of  0.5c per kWh, it’s not done on a percentage basis. This means that the donations do not fluctuate or get smaller if our profits get smaller like they would if it was on a percentage basis. It also ensures that charities will always get their donations regardless of Her Energy’s financial situation. Giving back is at the core of what we do.

What prompted you to do the work you’re doing now?

I was involved in my university’s charities committee which really shaped my desire to work in social enterprise rather than a more corporate setting. From there, I had an internship with a technology company in Hamilton who had developed the technology that I now use. I was actually brought on as a sales and marketing intern but I saw how the technology might be used to support women’s initiatives and put forward a proposal to start Her Energy (which was thankfully accepted!). Now here I am! The more I am involved in the electricity industry, the more I am convinced to continue what I do. The electricity retailer industry has a pretty big gender inequality in its leadership. As far as I’m aware, there are currently no other female CEOs amongst the main electricity retailers in New Zealand, and that’s pretty shocking. It’s something that needs to change. In creating Her Energy, I’m excited to provide an opportunity to support other women and also be part of a movement to try and increase women’s representation within the leadership of electricity retailers as we continue to grow. 

What has been the most challenging part of starting and growing Her Energy so far?

As is the case a lot of the time with start-ups it’s kind of been a baptism by fire. I had no direct business experience prior to starting this all up but I have enjoyed every minute of it! Learning how to reach out to people, how to network, how to effectively communicate, and how to ensure a positive customer experience is something that has been learning a lot about and I’m sure I will continue learning about as Her Energy continues to grow.

What is the best advice you’d give to yourself three months ago?

Just get stuck in. Send that email even if you are nervous about it! Reach out to people even if it feels a little awkward! I always tend to overthink things and want to try and make things perfect before I get started but the thing that I have learnt with business so far is that you have to let yourself make mistakes in order to learn. If you stay true to yourself (as cheesy as it is) and remain honest and tied to your ‘why’, you’ll be able to effectively communicate what it is you’re trying to do regardless of whether it’s ‘perfect’ or not.

How can we follow your journey?

Anyone who is interested in learning more about what I’m working on can follow us on Facebook or on Instagram. I would love to hear from anyone who might want to come on board! Just sends us a message on social media or feel free to email me at [email protected]. I can easily do a price comparison for anyone who is considering switching.

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