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girl boss: KATE SLACK-SMITH from MAGNOLIA HOME

OUR SECOND GIRL BOSS IS THE GORGEOUS KATE FROM MAGNOLIA HOME
{she’s also a friend of bellamumma’s}…
Kate has an amazing eye for homewares and kitchenware which she sells across two very successful stores on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We chatted to her about how she makes it all ‘work’ so beautifully…


What is your title?
I’m not really into titles – it’s a very flat hierarchy here!! If ever I have to write my title for immigration or questionnaires I always just write ‘business owner’ – with all that that implies, {ie buyer, merchandiser, accounts, boxboy, cleaner}!

Is this your first business?
I originally opened Magnolia in Country NSW, in partnership with my mother some 15 years ago. My mother has had her own businesses all her life, and I think growing up around retail I absorbed all I know from her. It suited me at the time, while my four boys were very young and it was a great way to hone the concept until I was confident the model would work on the Northern Beaches and my boys were at an age where I had a little more time to devote to a new business.

Before that I had a business with a friend, importing interior decorating stamps from the UK – a very niche business as it turned out! Before that, I worked as a Manager for a large fashion retailer after coming from a department store cadetship programme which was extraordinary training in its day.

How long have you had the business?
It’s 10 years this year! Along the way we have expanded and opened a second store in the same street – opening a dedicated kitchen/tabletop store five years ago.

How has your business changed since you first started?
The biggest change I guess is the size of the business and what we offer for sale – we have definitely diversified! We have really tried to identify areas our business could grow and what our customers want! I have gone from one other staff member to 12, which has made the business a lot more manageable and enjoyable for me – the beginning years were very intense!

How have you adapted?
The best part of retailing in a lifestyle category is identifying new trends and being able to grow the business where that takes you. Being able to buy across diverse categories makes your business a lot more resilient.

One piece of advise every new business woman needs to know?
To back your ideas and don’t necessarily wait for the perfect moment to launch your business – there is never a perfect moment! For all my planning we ended up opening the week of the GFC!! As the world was falling apart I think everyone secretly wondered what the hell I was doing. But we never looked back – doing something new and positive in such a bleak period was received so well!

Also waiting for your kids to be a certain age is not as important as you think it is! Obviously you need the right support around you but no one tells you that sometimes they need you around more when they’re older. Start sooner rather than later -generally if you’re doing something that fulfils you you’re a happier human and that’s great for your kids to see.

Any training you would recommend ?
Surround yourself with experts and don’t be afraid of asking for help – you can’t always do it all! Retail-wise, know your operating system inside out. They produce some amazing data that, along with your gut instinct, will help steer your business in the right direction.

If you could advise your younger self something about what you know businesswise, what would you say?
Apart from starting sooner rather than later and backing your instincts, it would definitely be grow your business in order to be able to grow the team of people around you. There is no longevity in trying to do it all yourself. Being able to just focus on what you do best and what drives the business forward is key. Its also really rewarding to build a great team and the fun that comes with that. It was a steep learning curve for this control freak!

Would you do it all again?
In a heart beat!

CONNECT with Kate

Magnolia Home
7/19 Bungan St, Mona Vale NSW
tel: 02 99971030
+ follow here:
facebook.com/magnoliahomeandgift/
instagram.com/magnoliahome/

{PHOTOS: Helen Coetzee / Hair & Make-up: Jess Berg}

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