As social media comes under increasing fire for contributing to poor mental health and body image, Rebecca Ryan meets one Kakanui woman who is using the platform, as well as a new podcast, to empower.
The start of any creative process can be intimidating, especially if, traditionally, your stories are not often shared.
But Rose Tautari is leaning into the uncomfortable to help women around the world live their best lives.
Tautari has launched a new podcast and is writing a book – both as ways to share inspiring stories, tools, laughs and ideas for women to make life “a whole lot happier”.
Lotus Life The Podcast was launched in December. Each week, from her lounge in Kakanui, Tautari interviews someone or talks about a topic by herself to help women bloom from “even the murkiest of circumstances lotus flower”.
Tautari was born in the UK and had quite a nomadic upbringing with her parents Gary and Ann Dennison.
“My father’s job was basically going around the world doing airport communications, but always in places that were developing countries,” she said.
“So we moved heaps – every six months, 12 months, 18 months – to lots of really cool places, but all places that were developing nations.”
A lot of her teenage life was spent in Singapore, while her father continued to travel around the world for work.
“He travelled from there and Mum and I got to be based in Singapore. I did all of my high school there,” she said.
After leaving school, she decided to “pick somewhere” to be based. New Zealand, and Otago in particular, felt like home.
“I knew a few people who had been to Otago [University] and thought it sounded cool – somewhere not too ‘big city’ and a way of being in the South Island.
“This part of the world was always home, because Dad is from Waimate originally.”
She moved to Dunedin and spent four years studying environmental management.
“At that time I thought I was going to go off doing something like helping third world developing nations,” she said.
Instead, she went “down the science path” and got a job as an environmental officer with the Otago Regional Council.
“It was a really great experience .. you’re getting to work with people, but you’re also working towards a bigger picture, environmental benefit,” she said.
“It taught me a lot.”
When she left that job, she became more involved in her parents’ business in Waimate – helping them build a successful social media platform and e-commerce business for Point Bush Wines.
And when she moved to Kakanui with her “soulmate” Darren and his now 14-year-old son, she decided to start developing her own business.
She threw herself into work, without thinking about the mental and physical consequences, and suffered severe burnout.
“I was doing 80-hour weeks, that classic entrepreneurial role where you’re in charge of everything or you’re trying to get something off the ground,” she said.
It took a “hit the wall” health crisis in 2017 to push her to take a step back and focus on her health.
“I found out I was battling hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue,” she said.
“If thought this I’ll be no use to anyone, let alone myself’.”
Growing up, Tautari had an interest in health and wellness, so she started looking into getting a health coaching certification.
She started understanding why she was, essentially, self-sabotaging by throwing herself into work and burning out.
“Really the catalyst for me to get into the work I’m doing now was my health,” she said.
“I was really passionate about helping people to not get to the place I had.”
Health coaching went far beyond just telling people what they should eat and how they should exercise down to the mind, she said.
“I think that was the biggest thing that I realised.
“In theory I knew [what I should be doing] but until you’ve actually been through it and experienced that complete burnout, you don’t value it as much.
“Understanding why you don’t do it was the thing that really fascinated me.”
Talking about her health journey and addressing uncomfortable and topical issues was a big focus of her new podcast – and the impact had already been pretty powerful.
“For a lot of people, it’s maybe things they’ve been thinking about or relate to.
“It’s really saying to women: been challenging, or the circumstances that have been really difficult that you’ve grown from and learned from’.
“Openly talking about how it’s OK to not fit in those boxes and it’s OK to have mental health issues – because everyone does.”
Another area she would like to explore on her podcast is gender roles.
“In my situation … and for a lot of women … I’m the breadwinner, and it’s not that traditional male-female split working in a relationship,” she said.
“That’s something I’d like to talk about a bit more because I think there’s still not enough discussion about that.”
The podcast was a “space angled towards women”.
“There are enough spaces to share other stories, so I’m quite conscious that, for now at least, I want to celebrate and talk to women about their journeys and their stories and coming back to that idea of what builds a happy life,” she said.
“That’s the core of it, I guess, for me.”
Despite Instagram being an important tool for her to build her business, and a community of empowered women, she described herself as a little bit “anti-social media”.
“I don’t buy into the hype of the consumerist, ego-driven, only-posting-to-get-likes,” she said.
“I’m quite outspoken against that, and I probably could be more so.”
Based in Kakanui, she is connected to people all around the world through social media.
“That’s something that I really value about it,” she said.
It would not be a platform for her to make money.
“There’s certainly a lot of opportunity to fall into that trap – and the really extreme of that is the Kardashians with their detox teas,” she said.
“Fortunately, there’s enough of a movement now that people understand that, but now it’s the layer behind that – it’s the consumerist thing.
“It’s just buy, buy, buy – and you don’t need it.”
Another area she would like to explore is helping teenage girls through talks at high schools, or workshops and events.
As stepmother to a 14-year-old, she is aware of the struggles they are facing.
“I worry about the impact social media is having on young people who don’t have the tools that I’ve been able to acquire to understand themselves, how their mind works the confidence in themselves,” she said.
But her primary focus now is on her podcast and writing a book about self-confidence and wellness.
“[The book] is a tool for people who are a bit more reserved or introverted and work on that self confidence for them.
“That’s my goal for this year – to self publish a book.
“I’m also going to do at least one group coaching programmes online, aimed at women and really .. diving into that mindset around confidence and being comfortable with yourself.”