Our Stories

Alex Dong

In 2011, my wife and I decided to move away from our busy and cluttered life in Silicon Valley and to settle in New Zealand. A couple of years later our lives and perspective changed forever when our daughter Mia was born. As a proud new dad I attempted to print some photos to send back to my grandparents, but the quality of the prints was disappointing and the process was complicated. With my experience in the software industry, I knew in my heart I could do better.

I wanted to build a company that would be built on values of honesty, integrity and loyalty, and above all I wanted to create products and technology founded on a principle of caring -about quality, about value, about the environment, and most of all, about my customers and their time and money.

I also wanted a catchy name with the word ‘happy’ in it. Happy in our work, happy making our customers happy. My wife suggested adding the word ‘moose’ so Happy Moose it became!

I decided the handling of the production myself was the only way the product would receive the attention to detail it needed to deliver the high-quality print product I had envisioned. So, in 2016 I purchased my first industrial sized printer and shortly after began operating it in the lounge of our home, a true family business with a desire to bring family moments from pixel to print in other people’s homes.

In 2018, we upscaled and purchased a new digital print press and our small team moved into a workshop where we operate today.

Happy Moose is a happy company committed to its customers and the quality of our service and products; our team of three are all contactable by phone.

Anna Wilson

I’ve been many things in my life but I’m a mother first and foremost.
For me, the pleasure and common thread has always been about engaging with the people around me; be it family, customers, colleagues or children.

People matter most to me and family comes first. Prior to joining the HappyMoose Team, I was working for a wholesaler to the picture framing industry, and I could see it was an industry that was very stuck in a mode of serving a very localised audience via brick and mortar offerings.

After a few years in this field I had acquired a depth of knowledge about the industry here in New Zealand and how it worked, and I was looking for a way to use this knowledge to do something that might challenge the status quo. As life does sometimes, I was presented to the opportunity I was looking for and I came across HappyMoose and Alex! I was quite curious about this enthusiastic and genuine Chinese dude who was transforming the photo printing industry with e-commerce in NZ in the same way I was watching the framing industry change overseas.

I could see ways of improving and streamlining his production process (particularly of framed products). And, I loved the look of the other HappyMoose products. As a mother, I had heaps of family photos stuck in my devices and was trapped in the notion that getting you photos printed is a hassle. I knew the significance of my family’s time capsuled in my phone and suffered from guilt because I was doing anything with them.

I loved the way HappyMoose made not just printing fast and easy straight from your devices, but also offered new ways to display and use photos with the range of products on offer. It also aligned with my personal values of family, and people first. So, two years ago I bought into the company and the rest is history!

Initially I worked remotely from Auckland. I eventually moved back to Dunedin my hometown to be closer to my family and Southern friends. I realised I missed the personal engagement with the team and this was something that was important to me, so I packed up my Auckland life and moved down to Dunedin just post lockdown.

Most of what we do is about relationships – with our customers, with our suppliers, with our business neighbours, and with each other. Our summer staff consists of my student niece, and my friend’s student nephew. We are a little work family.

One of the challenges with e-commerce, and one of the things I love most with HappyMoose, is that even though we are an e-commerce business, we still end up having lots of conversations with our customers. Sometimes they ring us, and sometimes we ring them, if we see something that needs a closer look in their photos, or quite often, just to tell them what a gorgeous pic they took and what a privilege it was to print it! Our customers sometimes let us know that a photo is of a loved one who has passed away and it really is an honour to help them keep their memories alive by doing the best print job we can.

This is what makes Happy Moose special and why I come to work everyday.

Melanie Dick

HappyMoose encompasses my passion for photography and printing.

I have a background in technology and photography, including a Diploma in Digital Photography from SIT. I’m passionate about photography and photo printing. I say both, because these days so much photography is just about taking the photos and leaving them on your phone or computer as digital photos. Printing your photos is the final step in the photo creation process.

I do take photos on my phone but whenever I can I will be out with my camera I love photography and the emotive effect these moments in time have on all of us.

I first met Alex when I was working as a Project Manager at the University of Otago. He was this high flying software developer that had decided to relocate to Dunedin. I followed his progress and his start-up HappyMoose.

Then, a year after my daughter Rebecca was born, I crossed paths with him again and he asked me to join him at HappyMoose to help with customer service. His commitment to truly caring about the quality of his product, service and customers, and his emphasis on family felt like a perfect fit. He also allowed me to work flexibly from home, so I could spend time with Rebecca while taking care of our customers.

I love the work, but most of all being part of a team that makes people happy when they receive that special photo. The daily interaction with our customers and the happiness that our daily work delivers is what is truly rewarding.

Not long ago a lovely woman got in touch with us about printing treasured photos of her recently deceased partner. She was concerned that the quality of the photos wasn’t going to be good enough to make decent prints. I reviewed them for her and knew we could print them to a standard that would please her. When she received her prints she sent me a note: “The photos arrived today. Thank you so much. I am so happy with the outcome and I feel overwhelmed seeing them but so thankful to you for making them so super special, framed and just perfect. I was told it couldn’t be done … so many, many, thanks!”

To me this story sums up what HappyMoose brings its customers and why I love being a part of this special business.