Jess Dunlop never set out to become an entrepreneur, but she’s well on her way to building an empire.
Dunlop started designer stocked Nedlands boutique Coco and Lola in 2010, and since then has opened one in Melbourne’s Toorak and next February will open her third store in Sydney’s Double Bay but she’s not done yet.
“We have a huge customer base in Sydney via our online store that’s probably our biggest push to open in Sydney,” Dunlop told AAA Weekend.
“We wanted to open in Sydney first before Melbourne, because our customer is quite similar, the weather is similar to WA’s climate. Sydney has just been a natural progression from a branding perspective of opening a store in every State.”
Like any small business owner, growth has not been without its challenges.
“The space we started with was only 40sqm, two change rooms, I had one staff member at the time and we would work the floor every day,” she said.
“Now, having our third interstate store, it’s not easy — I never set out to do that — it was just a natural progression from very humble beginnings … I feel very privileged that we’ve been able to develop the journey like this.”
Dunlop, who works across the two stores, has 30 female staff.
“I never anticipated that many people to oversee and grow their vision and their work life as well,” she said.
“It’s not just about working at Coco, it’s a career and something I need to invest in for them. We all have the same values and the same focus, which is what drives Coco to what it is now.”
Balancing the businesses with three children is something she credits her family, in particular husband Travis for his support.
“I have three children, so being pushed in the direction of the mum, and being a small business, it’s a hard balance,” she said.
“My family are involved in the business and he does enable me to do what I do.
“He’s very supportive and obviously has the kids a lot. We just make it work.”