The dynamic duo behind the Women’s Collective

This dynamic couple not only strives for the best in themselves, but also in the community. They formed the Women’s Collective to address issues that affect us locally and globally.

Taryn and Sasha Kljakovic

The idea to launch Women’s Collective came about after Taryn Kljakovic heard Alice Walker, the author of The Color Purple, speak at the 2014 Auckland Writer’s Festival. “Alice spoke about how the issues of the world can feel incredibly overwhelming, but if we each just start in our own backyard, we can achieve more than we think,” explains Taryn, 27. “She spoke about how she’d get together with friends once a month to discuss issues that affect their community and this formed the foundations of the Women’s Collective,” says Taryn of the monthly Auckland-based event she co-founded with her wife Sasha Kljakovic.

With the assistance of a team of volunteers, the Women’s Collective hosts events that bring their diverse community together, to speak openly and encourage conscious thought surrounding issues that affect them locally and globally. By day, Taryn heads promotions and publicity at Sony Music, where she works with local and international artists to promote their music, and Sasha, 32, is a doctor at Starship Hospital. Despite their demanding schedules, they believe it’s important to have a purpose outside of work. “Professional success is really rewarding, but knowing you are contributing to the world, beyond paying tax, is one of the best things I’ve experienced,” says Taryn.

As a couple, Taryn and Sasha often discuss their career and personal goals and ideas. “We are always reflecting and challenging each other on what to do and how to approach life,” says Sasha. “We are goal-writing nerds and often have sessions to think about where we are now and where we want to be in the future, both as individuals and together.”

“Sasha helps me see the wood for the trees and to disassociate other people’s issues from my own,” adds Taryn. “I really don’t think I could be doing what I am doing without her support. She has a very unique set of skills in business and she is great at being able to separate her personal and work life.”

Each session of the Women’s Collective attracts speakers who cover a diverse range of topics. Previous speakers include Labour MP Louisa Wall and Human Rights lawyer Prue Kapua, who discussed women in leadership; Damaris and Renee Coulter, owners of Auckland restaurant Coco’s Cantina spoke about encouraging sustainability in business; and Dr Katherine Gale covered treating breast cancer. “What I’ve noticed is that the creation of a better world comes from everyone taking small conscious steps in the right direction,” says Sasha. “After every event we have messages from people telling us that we are helping them to live more fulfilled lives and they can’t wait until the next one!”

The couple hopes to expand the concept to areas outside of Auckland, as well as create an interactive digital platform to engage a wider audience.“I have realised that if you really want to do something, you absolutely can,” says Taryn. “My confidence has also grown from other people who attend becoming more confident in living a life that’s true to them. It isn’t a tangible type of success, but it is definitely the most important to me.”