Giving families sustainable options

A passion for art history and a career in law may seem like an unlikely foundation for building a successful business in sustainable home products.

Woman with windblown blond hair and glasses, white shirt with black and white neckscarf, holding a pen
However, Munch and Nil founder Anna Bordignon found her career as a commercial lawyer and her love of family, the environment, business, and art have propelled her to success as a sustainable entrepreneur.

Anna grew up in the Hawkes Bay, the daughter of a teacher and businessperson. After leaving school, Anna had to make the decision between following in her sister and mother’s footsteps by going to Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University or going to Art School. In the end, Anna decided to follow the family tradition and study a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts majoring in Art History and Psychology.

Anna’s time at university was defined not only by the courses she studied, but also by the life-long friends she met along the way.
“It was great being in student accommodation, I made some long-term friends.”

Having completed her double degree, Anna went on to pursue a successful career in commercial law for ten years. “Studying law gave me the opportunity to pursue some amazing jobs, that also enabled me to travel. I worked in London in the largest law firm in the world and earned a good income which set me up extremely well for what I am doing now.”

Upon settling back in New Zealand, and starting a family, Anna returned to Te Herenga Waka to complete her Masters of Business Administration (MBA) part-time while caring for her children. It was starting a family of her own that gave Anna the motivation to start her sustainable home goods retail companies, Munch and Nil Products.

Munch Cupboard focuses on reusable and recyclable products for babies and families, while Nil Products focuses on a broader range of reusable products.

“I’ve always been passionate about sustainability, but this developed more with children. Swimming in lakes and rivers was a part of my childhood, and I wanted that for my kids too. This gave me the motivation to start my sustainable home goods companies.”

Sustainability became the pillar for both of Anna’s successful businesses. Munch and Nil Products create good quality products that are good for the environment, while using ingredients and products sourced from ethical communities. And both companies have a strong home workforce of over forty women, enabling them to earn an income and be part of a company with a purpose.

Starting both businesses meant a lot of hard work, dedication and risk-taking. Anna attributes her ability to analyse risks, and the courage to take those risks when necessary, to her study. She knows the combination of her undergraduate degrees in Law and Arts, and her MBA set her up to make difficult business decisions.

“I’m able to assess risks very quickly and have the confidence to take them. I think that by studying law, I learned how to think critically about the world.” She also credits her ability to research topics in depth and extract key information very quickly as fundamental to the success of her two businesses.

Anna is still connected to the Wellington School of Business and Government through the MBA programme. “I’m currently working with a group of students who will be doing a marketing piece for me as part of their research project.”

Annas advice for those who are interested in both the law and entrepreneurship, is to use that ability for risk assessment and be confident when making decisions. “I think lawyers make good businesspeople. I know quite a few women who own their own businesses. There are quite a few women who have practiced law and have used those skills to be in business. People think lawyers are risk-averse but that’s a gross assumption.”