Me and My Money: Brianne West, founder of Ethique

Brianne West
Ethique founder and CEO Brianne West says not having to worry about paying bills is an enormous privilege. Photo credit: Supplied.

"Having been just a step away from bankruptcy nine years' ago (just before I started Ethique), I know that horrible, tense feeling all too well."

Brianne West, founder and CEO, Ethique. 

Money. It's the driving factor behind many life choices, but is it the be-all and end-all?

'Me and My Money' is a regular feature that investigates Kiwi attitudes towards money and what drives the choices they make. We also explore if COVID-19 has changed peoples' money habits and how.   

Newshub spoke to Brianne West, founder and CEO of sustainable beauty brand Ethique, about value for money from her horse, investing in business to bring change and how having been near bankruptcy has made her appreciate the ability to pay bills.

1. Are you a saver or a spender?

A spender. 

But money is typically spent on big ticket items - or anything for my horse.

I try to minimise frivolous consumption...I don't do much clothes shopping for example.

2. Has COVID-19 influenced your attitude towards money?

Not a great deal, I'm lucky to be in a relatively stable position. Obviously, being unable to travel has helped to lower spending.

3. Post-lockdown, have your spending habits changed and if so, how?

I'm more aware of small businesses and trying to support local brands. 

Trying to help a little by eating out more than I normally would, spending money with local craftsmen and in gift stores.

4. Your mobile phone dies: what do you think is a reasonable amount to spend on a new one? 

Cost isn't the most important factor. I live on my phone: it enables me to work from anywhere and talk to anyone within and outside the business.

I consider it a priceless tool. 

5. Give an example of a recent purchase that you consider great value for money

My horse, 'Popcorn'. 

Without him, I would've gone crazy during lockdown. Being outside, spending time with animals, riding along the beach…that's fantastic stress relief. 

6. What was your last impulse or 'fritter' purchase and how did you feel about it afterwards?

A Dyson hair styler. I've used it twice in three weeks.

I'm sure it's good, but I just don't spend enough time on my hair in the morning. 

I got swept up in the marketing: how quick and easy they can make my hair look, like I've spent all day at a salon. Of course in my hands, it isn't that quick!  

7. If you have spare cash to invest, what's your preferred form of investment and why? 

I believe the best way to create the change we all want to see in the world is through business.

First and foremost, I invest in my own business (or not-for-profit) ventures. For example, I'm about to launch a $20 million business accelerator fund with my business partner.

It's high risk, but if I believe in their mission, I like backing socially and environmentally-motivated entrepreneurs. 

As term deposits aren't returning much, if there's enough spare to invest in property, that could be the least risky option. 

8. Do you use a credit card and if so, do you pay off the entire balance by the due date?

Yes and yes.    

9. Does having more money increase happiness?

It brings freedom.

Not having to worry about paying bills is an enormous privilege. Having been just a step away from bankruptcy nine years' ago (just before I started Ethique), I know that horrible, tense feeling all too well. 

Although it sounds incredibly twee, the best feeling is helping someone else out, giving someone something they desperately want, helping people who are trapped or in a hole and supporting causes and nonprofits.

That comes from having more money, so I suppose in that case, it does make me happy.

10. The best money advice someone's ever given you?

Pay off your mortgage first. If you have a home to live in, you can then relax a bit and perhaps invest in something riskier.