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Meet the retail queen trumping the consumer spend crunch

Colette Hayman came close to retiring after selling her ultra-successful jewellery business Diva for an undisclosed sum, but found she was restless and keen to jump back into the business world.

So she and retail-expert husband Mark hatched a new business plan and began opening Colette Accessories stores in March 2010, catering to an older customer base than Diva and offering competitive prices on fashion accessories.

Hayman has opened over 35 Colette Accessories stores since launch, and the business is going strong despite the impact declining consumer confidence and spending is having on the local retail market.

So how does this retail entrepreneur do it? Hayman talks to Dynamic Business about taking on new challenges, working hard to achieve goals and the advice new retail start-ups need to know.

Q. You’ve turned two retail start-ups into hugely successful businesses – what personal qualities do you think assisted you to achieve this?

I’m my harshest critic, I hate to fail! I work however hard it takes to make it happen and I’m a very positive person.

Q. Do you think an entrepreneur must always be willing to take on new challenges?

I think taking the initiative to make a success of something you are passionate and committed to working for and then achieving that goal is in essence taking on new challenges, so yes I suppose that’s true.

Q. How important do you think it is for retailers & business owners to embrace social media and e-commerce?

Massive, social media is a way of connecting with your customer on a daily basis in a forum that costs very little. We have just launched our online store and have had a fantastic response to it, our Facebook page is growing, as is our twitter following.

Q. What piece of advice would you like to give other retail start-ups?

Negotiate everything, money is hard to earn, don’t part with it easily! Don’t be arrogant and believe you know it all because you don’t. I spend hours researching trends whether it be fashion, technology or business information…don’t stop being thirsty for knowledge about the business you are in. And lastly, don’t go into business thinking it’s going to be easy, it takes determination, dedication and long hours.

Q. What about work/life balance – is it achievable for business owners? How?

I put everything into my business during the week and the weekends are for my family. I’m fortunate to work with my husband so we get to spend a lot of time together and have a common interest. It is about balancing what you need to do and what you would like to do.

Admittedly it’s not always that easy!

Q. Looking back on your journey, do you have any regrets?

Learning from our weaknesses or failures can only make us better equipped for the future, so no I don’t have any regrets.C

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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