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Expanding horizons

Silent Disco Citywalk™ made it to Invercargill

March 7, 2023 / developer / 0 comments

Being a business owner and running a creative company, such as Papaya Stories, means that I got to wear multiple hats: from being an inspiring team lead to an ambitious sales manager; from playing a fictional character to being a public speaker on stage.

The list goes on and my hat collection keeps on growing from day to day. And I wouldn’t have it the other way around. It took me a while to embrace the fact that I was born to do my own thing and choose the hats I want to wear. And if you feel the same deep call in your soul, I hope you will be inspired by my journey and this post.  

Yana Kirakovskaya, Founder of Papaya Stories

Today I explore what it means to be a WOMAN entrepreneur. Not just a gender-neutral intuitive entrepreneur that I usually associate myself with. But what it takes to operate your business with the heart; run it on the terms which are at times driven by natural cycles rather than a constant push-and-go race.

It is a great time for reflection, as we celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March which will evoke certain conversations or experiences, and also because of my recent participation in the Women’s Non-conference that took place in Invercargill at the end of February. 

Papaya Stories at Women`s Non-Conference 2023

That conference was an inspiration on its own as its main principle was “Less Talk More Action”. Apart from the traditional lineup of speakers, the conference had a stronger focus on providing attendees with interactive activities called ‘Time Pods” this year.

There were three time pods to explore. 

One of them was about learning to cook on the fly and master the art of the perfect steak with the top Chef and local Food creator Ethan Flack, Koha Kai. It was a totally new perspective to celebrate the whanau and community through sharing inspirational food stories and a plate of delicious food, of course!

The second pod opened the door to higher consciousness through the art of mindfulness, yoga, and meditation with Kate Watkinson. Kate invited the women to connect with their heart and soul and find the true inspiration that ignites their inner fire and makes them shine through.

Kate Watkinson about mindfulness in Invercargill

And finally, attendees were invited to take a walk on the wild side with Silent Disco Citywalk® dedicated to the Theme of Time. (Yes, we do love talking about time and creating personalized Citywalks for various occasions, groups, and festivals, click here to find out more.

Silent Disco Citywalk down in Invercargill

The Silent Disco Citywalk® allows me to wear multiple hats. Not only am I the guide and entertainer of the walk, but I also share inspiration as an entrepreneur. To be more precise, a female entrepreneur that dreams big, pushes the boundaries, and is not afraid to tame wild big ideas.

In addition, there are THREE key takeaways from that business trip that will inspire our future endeavors, and, hopefully, yours too!

1. Virtual walking vs physical mapping – which one is better? 

After years of planning and designing the unique walking routes and site-specific audio journeys in Tamaki Makarau, I gained a certain level of expertise, with over 35 site-specific walking adventures that includeSilent Disco Citywalk® , Multi-sensory walks, Interactive Audio Tours , Maori-led immersive walks.

The golden rule of my method is that I always go for a walk and explore the neighborhood, pathways, and green spaces I am going to activate. I let the space talk to me while having my feet and a sense of curiosity drive the narrative. The ideas, as if they are actual seeds, fall like raindrops from the sky. Later they land in my consciousness to continue to blossom and ripe.

Women with headphones on a Silent Disco Citywalk

Silent Disco Citywalk in Invercargill CBD

While working on the Silent Disco Citywalk®in Invercargill I had to adjust my method. In what way?! Hmm, I went on multiple walks around Invercargill CBD virtually! And guess what? It worked too! But I wouldn’t be able to do so without my professional “walking” background. 

Needless to say that at least one day before the event date was an absolute must for us to do the route testing and the audio programme timing. The moment I physically walked down the streets to the beats of our curated soundtrack I started to feel the space differently. New ideas were coming down and the metaphors were striking me. The space talked to me directly, rather than through the virtual medium. 

Women at Women`s Non-Conference on an immersive walk by Papaya Stories

A group of women dancing and connecting to the city with the help of Silent Disco Citywalk in Invercargill

To me as a creator of the Silent Disco Citywalk®, nothing can replace the idea of actual physical walking that opens a multi-dimensional connection to space. However, this time Google Maps did quite a trick there. And now we are ready to create more amazing experiences from near and far.

2. Choose risk over comfort

Invercargill was the first city that hosted the Silent Disco Citywalk® experience out of Auckland. And I think it’s a big Win for the city, Southland region, and Papaya Stories too. 

For Leanne Humphrey, Conference Organiser, it was a no-brainer to bring our team down and include us in the programme as she took part in the Silent Disco Citywalk® Latino Edition in July 2022, celebrating its culture, arts, and music. That later inspired Leanne to organize this event down in Invercargill and try something new.

This opportunity wouldn’t happen if Leanne wasn’t a risk-taker herself. As the saying goes, `It takes a genius to recognize another genius`. We truly believe that Everyone is a genius indeed, some just haven’t unlocked their superpower yet! So Papaya Stories is here to help!

flashmob on the streets of Invercargill by Papaya Stories at Women`s Non-Conference

Being an entrepreneur means taking risks. Some risks pay off, and some do not. But if surrounded by leaders choosing a familiar scenario over the unknown, I am not sure my path would be that successful. I believe that we should be willing to take risks and inspire others to do the same. 

Leanne’s idea of bringing the Silent Disco Citywalk®down to Invercargill was a huge success, as attendees kept on talking about the event for days to come. It was a great icebreaker activity that brought diverse women from Southland together, presented a new way of looking at the city, and helped them rediscover a sense of joy!

women in headphones holding hands and dancing in Invercargill with Papaya Stories

site-specific audio walk in Invercargill brought by Papaya Stories

3. Start small and maximize later

We all have ideas. Big and small. Bold and wild. But at times we get caught up by the Big Dreams only. While chasing the Big idea we forget that every idea can be simplified. Every idea consists of tons of smaller bits that can later lead you toward your Big idea.  

That’s how I created the Silent Disco Citywalk®. I tamed a big idea and started from a simple walking route that later developed into a complex site-specific musical and theatrical journey. 

An interactive stop during Silent Disco Citywalk in Invercargill

As this concept has a massive appeal to many audiences we hope that by coming together and engaging multiple partners, funders, and sponsors we will be able to deliver a bigger wilder idea next time. 

Women feeling the joy of Silent Disco Citywalk in Invercargill

Working on this project also reminded us about our initial goal, which was all about spreading the joy of the Silent Disco Citywalk® across New Zealand and far beyond. We got lucky to travel to the deep south, engaging with over 130 women and proudly adding Invercargill to our vision board. 

women enjoying the sildent disco citywalk in invercargill

Keen to put your city on our vision board too? Get in touch via email to explore those exciting opportunities further. 

Diverse women with headphones on an inclusive audio adventure by Papaya Stories

Photography by Southland Business Chamber

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