I grew up in the country south-west of Perth on a wheat and sheep farm and went to boarding school in Perth from year 8 to year 12. At the time I didn’t find boarding school fabulous – it wasn’t that I missed home, it was just being around other girls and having to get on with everyone. And I did everything but be studious – I played every sport that could take me away from study, but I did what I had to do to get through. I had no plans except possibly going home and doing farming. I did know that I wanted to work for myself. After school I phaffed around for five years and then went to Uni and did Agri Business which led me to working with large animals - cattle, sheep and pigs all around WA, working for the big pharmaceutical companies dealing with feed and growth.
I have four children, twin boys Oscar and Cooper who are 12, Rigby is eight and Kitty is seven. When my twins came along I had just finished working in Native Title, transcribing for the Pastors and Graziers Association working with farmers and hearing their stories about Native Title. My husband is an Engineer, and with his work we moved (when I was five months pregnant) to Arnhem Land which is where the twins were born (I was flown out to Royal Darwin to have them so their first time travelling was in a plane flying out to a remote community). It was a massive experience. You can only access the town by plane in the wet and it’s an eight hour drive in the dry. We had twin babies so it was quite bonding for my husband and I. There was no real complication in our lives. He went to work early and got home early, there was no over time, and there was nothing to do apart from fish and camp. So it was a really strongly knit community group. I was lucky because I had good babies, but then again maybe I had good babies because our life wasn’t complicated? I breastfed for 12 months and every single time was at home – you couldn’t say that if you lived in the city. I didn’t work for about 10 years, I just stayed at home with the kids. I did get the study bug, and completed an interior design course as well as a few other courses including digital start up.
All the kids were born in different states. Rigby was born back in WA and then we moved to Brisbane which is where Kitty was born. We were always on secondment with BHP and then Peter decided to resign and go out on his own, he was really ready to leave a big corporation I was ready to do my own thing too. We moved to Perth and creating Nesbar was my first foray back into the working world. I am a natural interior decorator and had set up a business doing private work, and then one day I found this location which had a mainstream toy shop operating in it, and it was up for sale. It is a beautiful spot, ideal for our family, so I bought the lease and Nesbar was born.
How did I set up a business with four young children? I had a very helpful husband. The kids are number one, the family is number one, so I just staffed-up. I worked the hours that I could and got in staff for the rest of the time. It’s brilliant – we live around the corner and now that the kids are older they can come to me after school. When they were younger and I was doing the consulting in other people’s homes, if I had a sick child I had to cancel the appointments and let people down. Now if one of them is sick they just stay with me in the shop out the back. There was definitely a juggle. I had no experience in retail so the first three months was a huge, steep learning curve - getting to understand all the stock orders and I’m still learning what’s going to sell and what isn’t. Nesbar is really about what I love. It’s a mix of everything I love and I style the different areas. I decide on how I want the shop to look and I go out and source the pieces I need. I really enjoy just being here. The kids understand what I do and they love it too. They’re very independent children. They get themselves ready in the mornings and make their own lunches and help with dinner because I’m not there to do it for them.
Social media is my form of advertising. People look at Facebook and Instagram and then go to our website and they call to enquire about pieces they like. I’ve never been to a trade fair to order stock, I support local artists and suppliers where I can, and I shop online. I don’t buy what I think people are looking for, I buy what I love. I do order from a few wholesalers, but then the stock is just like every other store. My ordering style gives the business its uniqueness. I love Nesbar and what I have created, but it’s not our future. I love the experience of setting things up. If someone walked in the door and wanted to buy this little baby, I would sell it and move on to setting up something else. It’s a sense of achievement for me.
For any mums wanting to start up their own business, just go with the heart. Don’t think about it too much. Just do it! My husband and I chatted a bit about it and we did some figures, which didn’t stack up, but we did it anyway because it felt right. I do like the fact that I don’t have any partners, I don’t have to answer to anyone. It would be great to have a partner so I could go on holidays and leave the business with someone who has the same passion as I do, but I like being able to call my own shots. If you wait too long and you think about it too much, it won’t happen. Just jump in and do it.
The Nesbar shopping experience is warm and homely with products curated to make you feel at home - textiles, objects, plants, baskets, rugs, art, toys, clothing, accessories, homewares, furniture and books. Nesbar also has a great little Espresso Bar so you can sip on specialty Arabica coffee or a cold-pressed juice while you shop. Located close to the beach in Swanbourne, Nesbar offers classic and unique pieces for the modern household.
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Copy: Melanie Quirk Photography: SomedaySomehowStudios
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