New ad­di­tion

Third bou­tique opens

The West Australian - - INSIDE COVER - Ess Dun­lop Ned­lands Travis

Jn­ever set out to be­come an en­tre­pre­neur, but she’s well on her way to build­ing an em­pire. Dun­lop started bou­tique Coco and Lola in 2010, and since then has opened one in Melbourne sub­urb 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. But space be­came avail­able in Melbourne (first). 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 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 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.”

Krys­tal San­ders

Pic­ture: Iain Gille­spie

Coco and Lola owner Jess Dun­lop, cen­tre, with staff mem­bers Tahlia Heath and Vanessa Hadad.

last sea­son, left, were sniff­ing around for po­ten­tial sin­gle tal­ent as As­cot Race­course on Win­ter­bot­tom Stakes Day. Scouts were ap­par­ently specif­i­cally look­ing for fe­males, even ap­proach­ing gate staff and telling them they were “per­fect” for the show.

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