Amanda Livingston’s background is in professional services marketing, having started out working for global law and accounting firms and a major bank. She’s moved from Scotland, to the Caribbean, to New Zealand. She’s a mother to three boys and the winner of Rocketspark’s Community Good Award this year.
She’s done so much for her community that when our in-house storyteller, Kyra Piccione, caught up with her, she didn’t have enough time to talk about all of it.
Amanda said she wanted to acknowledge that she was in a place of privilege to be able to give back.
“I first started volunteering when I was 22 and later, during the time when I was home with the boys, volunteering gave me a lot of flexibility, kept my head in the game and stopped me from going too crazy at home with 3 boys under 4,” Amanda laughed.
Amanda and her family moved to New Zealand about six years ago.
“It took us a couple of years to get settled, once we were, I started looking for my next volunteering job. But one thing I have noticed with volunteering over the years is the more you do, the more is expected of you, and it can be really difficult to manage your time because there is so much need.”
Amanda decided she wanted a bit more control and she was thinking about rejoining the workforce, now that her sons were a bit older. But she ended up having, “fairly major surgery”.
“While I was in hospital, I was in a pretty grim ward. There were a lot of other patients in a bad way and I was really moved by the way the amazing nurses cared for them.
“The lady in the next bed over from me worked at a funeral home, and we had these really deep conversations about life and purpose, so it just gave me a bit of a prod to prioritise helping people and doing what I love.
“I realised I wanted to combine paid work with my volunteering work. Starting a business seemed to be the best way, and it also gave me a bit more control over my voluntary work as well.”
This all happened about two years ago and that’s when Quick Brown Fox was created.
When thinking of a name for her business, Quick Brown Fox, came from an exercise Amanda had done when she was at school and learning to type.
“‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’, was the sentence we had to type when we were tested on touch typing.
“When I was thinking about a name, I was reading some nerdy things somewhere along the way and it was talking about early communication systems and how telex companies would use that phrase to test their systems.
“I quite liked the association with communication, which is what I do, and also accuracy, which is important in copywriting, foxes are cute too,” she said.
Amanda became a Design Partner when she created her own website for Quick Brown Fox.
Since setting up her business two years ago and becoming a Rocketspark Design Partner, Amanda has helped many different businesses and people along the way.
“One of the pillars of Quick Brown Fox is community, I firmly believe that no community can thrive as a whole if some of your community isn’t thriving. I make a point to make it known that I will help where and when I can. When you put that message out there, you do get replies.”
Amanda said her desire to help people comes from her consciousness that there are a lot of disadvantaged people in the world through no fault of their own who need a helping hand, something she is willing to give.
“It starts really small, it really starts with communities. It’s so easy when you have a warm dry house, a car to get around in, and a job to go to, to not see anything unfortunate that’s happening around you and I guess, I choose to see it.”
Amanda has done a lot for her community, but one of her favourite things was her role as a mentor in the RAW programme (Reclaim Another Woman - rehabilitation for female ex-prisoners).
“The programme is amazing; it supports female prisoners to create a new chapter in life and gives them much more choice and control over their future. The woman I worked with is someone who has come through this programme, done really well and then been a great mentor to others. She’s capable and ambitious, and has exciting plans to start her own business. She’s working hard and I can’t wait to see that come to fruition for her.”
Helping The Lettuce Man was definitely another of Amanda’s highlights.
“His name is Ian, he’s just such a lovely guy, he does hydroponic farming and sells his produce at the Farmers’ Market. He was on the radio talking about how he had nowhere to sell during lockdown so he had been feeding his beautiful greens to the deer in the woods. I’d worked with him before and he posted his radio interview on Facebook. When I heard it I thought, ‘what is going on over there? This is crazy!’.”
Amanda decided to help him and connected him with a couple local food box delivery services he could supply his produce to. She also created social media content for him, to direct his Farmers’ Market customers to the new ways to buy and he sold out each week.
“Ian is so generous - he’d often leave a box of goodies at my gate as a thank you.”
Amanda also really enjoyed creating a marketing strategy workshop for new start-ups and giving some marketing advice to Cambridge travel agent, Marie Coles. Marie lost her job due to Covid and launched her own local tour business, Roam Travel Adventures, taking small groups of women on expertly planned mini-adventures.
“So many people have been affected by Covid and for a lot of people and businesses everything just stopped overnight. For Marie, deciding to start her own travel business in the age of COVID-19 was a brave move. She has so many amazing ideas and providing some marketing pointers and being a sounding board was a privilege that I enjoyed being able to do.”
Amanda has done so much for her community, these next few paragraphs are going to touch on some of the other epic work she’s been up to.
Amanda is a member of The Good Collective, a charity that exists to boost other not for profits, and they do that by connecting businesses with charities to link them with expertise and contacts they so often lack.
She has taken the Ethical Move pledge, a promise to only engage in marketing that's ethical, not exploitative.
Donated time to help The Cake Detective charity with marketing and PR before they recruited a member of staff to take over.
She wrote the website content for Totally Locally Cambridge, a Chamber of Commerce initiative that was quickly put in place to support our local businesses during tough times after lockdown.
Amanda has edited and produced two editions of a Student Writing Book for the Rural Youth and Adult Literacy Trust and is about to produce a third.
She donated tickets to the lovely people who run Kids in Need Waikato and The Cake Detective so they could attend a community networking event and make some new contacts.
Donated a large delivery of groceries to restock the shelves of Waikato Women's Refuge - Te Whakaruruhau when they ran out of food.
She gave five Christmas food hampers to help families being supported by Cambridge Community House.
Amanda sponsored the Dare to Dream fundraising event for Waikato Women's Refuge - Te Whakaruruhau, which raised $10,000, to help with increased demand for their services over the Christmas period.
“I feel conflicted about being a finalist, it doesn’t naturally sit well with me to list my good deeds. But I have some amazing friends all around the world who do incredible things, so much more than I do, and I had a couple of chats with them about entering. One thing they said was, ‘if you do good things and don’t talk about them, then you’re not taking the opportunity to normalise doing good’.
“That hit home and I believe we do need to normalise being more community-minded. The only way we can do that is by talking about it,” Amanda said.