Politics, business, sport and ecostore: Tessa Berger’s healthy life
Tessa Berger is perhaps best known for contesting the 2016 local elections, standing for a seat on the Rodney board, north of Auckland. But at just 22, she’s back from a football scholarship to the US, has started her own merchandising business, campaigns for environmental preservation and happens to be a fan of ecostore products as well. We put a few questions to her about how she keeps up a healthy lifestyle with so many things on the go.
You have so many interests and roles - from community service to contesting the local election to sports and business – how do you juggle them all and still make sure you have time for yourself?
I’ve always said if you care about something enough you’ll make time for it, but ultimately my happiness and overall sense of wellbeing takes priority. In saying that, I’m only human; if I’m not my best self, I can’t wholeheartedly contribute to the projects I’m involved in. I guess it’s just having a sense of self-awareness, so if I do fall out of balance I can take the necessary steps to re-align myself. Also investing in a calendar doesn’t hurt!
You serve on the Mahurangi Coastal Trail Trust and FOR Parks (Friends of Regional Parks) – what sparked your interest in preserving the local environment in Mahurangi and why do you campaign on environmental issues?
I grew up on a small coastal farm and developed a great appreciation for my surroundings from a young age. I don’t see ‘the environment’ as something separate to be considered, but as an integral part of every decision and choice made by those elected to represent us. It’s hideous to think that world leaders and big business knowingly allow for the destruction of something we hold so dear, and are indeed reliant on to sustain life. Fortunately, there has been a shift in mentality toward how we can now best preserve our environment for future generations, and I’m happy to be a part of that movement.
Tell us more about your merchandise business. Was it difficult to develop your own business at a young age?
The concept of The Merchandise Collective first came about when I was in high school, before launching the company in 2015. We offer a range of locally based merchandising services and seek to provide our clients with minimalistic pieces of the highest quality. More recently we’ve dropped geographically inspired collections that draw from domestic metropolitan area codes in New Zealand. It is essentially a new-take on souvenir shopping.
In the beginning, I adopted a very hands-on approach, in that I managed every component of the business from coding the website through to designing garments, meeting prospective clients and even fulfilling orders. That initially restricted our growth but it was important to me to have an in-depth understanding of the mechanics of my business, which has served the company well.
Any entrepreneur will tell you that this line of work isn’t for the faint hearted, it requires discipline and fortitude especially at a young age. The reward though, is real sense of freedom in having a vision and seeing it through.
Where does your interest in political issues come from? Do you see age as a barrier for your political aspirations?
I guess I’ve always appreciated that the world is much bigger than myself. I didn’t have the easiest of starts in life, which has compelled me to want to effect positive change and be a platform for the voices of the disenfranchised. My age is one of my best assets. It allows for me to bring a different perspective to the table, one that isn’t currently being represented. I do have limited political experience, as did every politician before they were first elected. I am constantly seeking the counsel of older, more experienced people and as everyone should be, I’m always learning.
Tell us about your football career, and captaining the Forest Hill Milford team which is sponsored by ecostore?
I’ve been chasing a ball around a paddock since I was five years old and I’m still not tired of it! The game has had an incredible influence on my life. It’s played a pivotal role in molding who I am off the field and opened doors for me in terms of my personal development. Touring, I was able to see the world and experience different cultures at a young age and in securing a full athletic scholarship, I was able to further my education and attend university in the United States. Since I’ve returned home, it’s had to take a bit of a back seat to all of my other endeavors. I’m still playing at the top level domestically and winning national titles (shout out to Forrest Hill Milford and the Northern Football Federation) but I’m still enjoying it, which is the most important thing!
Besides soccer, what are the other aspects of a healthy lifestyle for you?
I’ve always been an advocate of a healthy lifestyle and for me maintaining a balanced diet and exercise regime is key to my mental wellbeing, just as much as my physical. I love to buy local and have found that being aware of what I’m consuming by reading product labeling and nutritional content helps me make more informed choices. In terms of working out, I wouldn’t say my routine is typical by any means, due in part to my footballing commitments. It’s really just about being consistent.
Which ecostore products do you use and do you have particular favourites?
I’m a fan of ecostore and have been using its products for years now because of how closely the brands values align with my own. I have to say I’m a sucker for ecostore’s body butter! It’s light with a subtle fragrance so I’m able to moisturise my entire body before bed and wake up with my skin feeling hydrated.