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Alumni Stories

Hey Fritz making waves in sustainability

For some, working as an assistant director on movie sets sounds about as glamorous as it gets, but for Sammy Williamson, her passion for environmental change trumped that lifestyle.

The University of Canberra alumna graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor in Media Arts and Production, landing her first job as a video editor for a media production company in Canberra.

With more experience under her belt and looking for a more hands-on role, Sammy started freelancing as an assistant director on multiple TV series and documentary sets.

However, when the COVID-19 pandemic affected the amount of work coming in, she decided it was time to transition into a space that had been important to her for as long as she could remember.

“I was always heading in that environmental direction, with a passion to create a documentary or initiative that would spark change, and drive people to think about their consumption and behaviour,” she says.

“I wasn’t in a position where I was completely out of work and didn’t have anything else to do, but the timing of the pandemic did force me to think about what direction I wanted to go in.”

After doing some freelance marketing work locally in Canberra, Sammy started working with the Canberra Innovation Network.

It was there that she connected with her business partner, Mick Fritz, a career public servant with a young family, who shared Sammy’s passion for environmental change.

Hey Fritz was born from their collaboration. It’s a peer-to-peer rental platform looking to drive change in consumption and promote sustainability.

“When Mick and I met, we just instantly clicked in terms of our goals and mentality and that’s where it all started,” she says.

“The idea was born from Mick sharing his own belongings with his neighbours and wider community for years, and with my strategic and analytic approach we took it from there. It was definitely a ‘right place, right time’ moment.”

The platform allows people to list materials to hire out to others on either a short-term or long-term rental basis and aims to connect the community through sharing resources while decreasing consumption.

Materials that can be rented on the platform include garden tools, party equipment, outdoor and camping gear, allowing participants to spend less on items they don’t use daily, and avoid excess consumption.

Hey Fritz also plans to offer services and spaces through the platform.

“We want to empower small businesses to run through the platform, so in the future we are going to also be including spaces to rent, like offices and car parks, as well as services,” Sammy says.

Along with Sammy and Mick, the Hey Fritz team includes a data scientist and a platform architect, for optimum online safety and website efficiency.

All four bring unique skills to the Hey Fritz Team, with Sammy’s study and experience in media and marketing contributing to getting the business off the ground.

“Working as an assistant director is all about logistics and people management, and while I never studied exactly how to be in that role, my degree prepared me with those skills,” she says.

“Throughout my degree there was always an emphasis on properly articulating what you wanted to achieve and that’s what I really took out of university – managing people and my time.

“I’m still using all of those skills with Hey Fritz, as we communicate with investors and stakeholders,” she says.

The website, which launched in February 2021, already has rental listings in Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane, Darwin and Sydney, with a look to going global in time.

Sammy says while she loved her work within the film industry, she was happy to trade it in to be a part of Hey Fritz.

“People are aware of their footprint on the planet, they are aware of their consumption and of climate change, but what they aren’t sure of is how they can help,” she says.

“I am proud to be a part of giving the community an easy-to-use and safe way to help.

Words by Danielle Meddemmen, photos supplied

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