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Posted in General Leon van der Heijden's truly Inspirational Story

Date: 02 September 2020



Leon van der Heijden's truly Inspirational Story

Former student Leon van der Heijden, left OHS early in Year 12. His only qualification was Level1 NCEA. He is now 19 years old and has just purchased his own home! He runs a business, ‘Good Ol Vintage’ with his partner, works long hours in the construction industry and has just begun an electrical apprenticeship!

I recently asked Leon to tell me about his journey, it makes for inspiring reading.

Leon replies

From a very young age I was always looking for creative ways to make money and I have been selling things on the internet for as long as I can remember. I think this led me to want to run my own business. I have always wanted the freedom to make my own rules and work hard for something I am truly passionate about. I have always been business minded and interested in all things business related.

I left school at a very young age. I had secured my first real job as a cafe assistant while I was in year 11. I slowly started  picking up more skills in the cafe, learning how to be a barista and not long after I started running shifts. Early into year 12, I was offered a managerial role at the cafe. It was difficult to decide if I should leave school at that point. Ultimately, I felt that if I left school I could make more of myself and push even harder. This decision did not leave me without consequences; I did have a difficult time when looking for jobs further down the line, that interested me in business, as I only had NCEA Level 1 and obviously no university degree.

My girlfriend Saba and I started our online business ‘Good Ol Vintage’ on Instagram as a hobby, reselling vintage streetwear. Our business journey was extremely difficult in the beginning; we had to put in long hours and a lot of hard work with little reward. This was on top of working 50- 55 hours a week. The money that I had made from working in the cafe was invested in our business, which now has 17 thousand followers on Instagram.

In order to achieve my goal and buy my own home I had to be incredibly responsible with money. Saving is a really important part of life and is something I have grown to get better and better at. I always try to only buy the necessary things in life and to buy second hand ( not only is this easier on the wallet but the planet too!. Don’t rush into purchases and wait until things come on sale, by the time they do you will probably have moved on and not even want to spend the money anymore.

I moved out of home when I was 17 and quickly decided that I didn’t want to be paying off someone else’s mortgage, when in reality I could have a house of my own.

My advice is to find something that you are passionate about, research ways that you earn money out of it and put absolutely everything  into it. Don’t spend money on things you don’t really need, the small things you mindlessly buy on a day to day basis can add up so fast!

If you save a regular potion of your money aside each week, it can add up quickly, then you can think of investing in something you love and really grow from there. Go over the numbers, set goals, it is important to be well aware of your budget and where your money is ending up.

Just go for it!!!

I would like to thank Leon for taking the time to share his remarkable story with us. He is living proof that with discipline, hard work and vision you can achieve great things.



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