Making the step from being a nurse to owning a store is not necessarily a logical one, but for Julie Semple it made perfect sense.
When the Melbourne-born entrepreneur married a Queensland farmer many years ago she relocated to the small town of Biloela. Once their children were in their final years of high school she left her long career in nursing to purse a business career in homewares―she bought Define Home Style in Rockhampton and has been running it for a number of years.
“I have a background in nursing, but together with my husband we have bought and renovated homes previously,” she explains. “Being creative and using my imagination to create beautiful places to live have always been my passion both personally and for others.”
Creativity and imagination were definitely needed when Semple first bought the store as she says it was fairly dated. To keep up with the ever-changing market and environment they created an online store and became a lot more active on social media.
“We recently opened a second store in…Biloela. We now have a much better handle on stock inventory across the two shops and warehouse thanks to the new POS system that works in conjunction with online sales.
“The websites and online marketing has been a big focus for this year. We wanted to create a website that was inviting and easy to use so people can look at products before popping into store, as well as shopping from the comfort of their home.”
Social media is also an integral part of the business’ marketing campaign, showing customers what they have in store as well as getting to know the team behind Define Home Style, says Semple.
“We’re constantly sharing our favourite blog posts, recipes and interior inspiration. My daughter who is studying her masters of communication and runs her own digital marketing agency Hunger Digital takes care of all our social media.
“It’s amazing to have someone with her expertise and knowledge, who also has a strong relationship with the business. We also have customers sharing photos of products they’ve bought in the shop and displayed in their home. It’s always lovely to see what people do with the things they’ve bought.
Semple says that recruiting, nurturing and developing wonderful staff has been the lynchpin to a successful business, and it doesn’t hurt if they include your husband and children. It can be more stressful as you know each other’s weakness but you also know each other’s strengths, so you can use this to your advantage to develop further and take lead roles in the areas that you are best at, she explains.
“My husband helps a lot with the warehouse and everything technological, my oldest daughter has just finished her diploma in fashion design and has had some of her jewellery stocked in the shop, my middle daughter who works in PR and digital marketing works with the store on a daily basis and helped bring us into a more modern style digitally and then my youngest son would spend his university holidays working in the store. It’s been a great way to see everyone’s skills develop and see how it’s all helped the shop and is a great bonding experience.”