From $80k debt to $2 million turnover in 5 years
In the space of a few years Jen has created a phenomenal business from her own personal experience.
Can you give us a little bit of background about your journey so far?
“ I graduated uni with a Bachelor of Science, and that was in 1992, and there was a massive recession on. So I took a job in admin and then I got promoted to doing events and sponsorship. And then I found my groove as being a business development manager. Before business development managers were a thing and I worked for the Sydney Olympics and my job was finding business opportunities for companies in South Australia and in New South Wales to secure opportunities coming in. Building the stadiums and the sponsorships of anything to do with the Olympics was awesome.
After that I got really excited about that sort of thing. And so at 29 years of age, I quit my job and I was a pretty high paid executive. I was making $130,000 a year and I decided to start my own consulting company. I coached and consulted to businesses writing business plans and doing business development and that sort of thing, and I took on extra training and I became one of the very first business coaches in Australia in 2001.
Coaching I find is just a joy and I love it most of the time. And you know, I've coached over 3000 businesses in the last 20 years. I've been speaking at events and networking, published three books in that time. I got married when I was 42, My Dream Man, and we had a daughter, Rose. It turns out the dream marriage was a bit of a nightmare, with domestic violence and alcohol related abuse and trauma. So I left with Rose when she was three years old and I was in the process of trying to protect us. And I didn't find coaching fun because I was trying to support other people. I didn't find speaking fun because I had nothing to talk about and I just sort of sat at home with her and sort of just wasn't prepared to get out in the world.
I accrued $80,000 in debt on five credit cards, just surviving. I just tried to struggle to rebuild my life and protect Rose. One morning after fighting with her before going to school, I said to her, “If you don't sit still, shut up and put up with this, I'm going to chop your hair off.” It was probably one of the worst things I've ever said to her, because the look in her eyes was just like, “Are you kidding me?” You know, given what we've together been through, and that's where the journey of hair and all of that sort of stuff came in.
I've never actually cut my daughter's hair. I just started to look at the market of brushes and what this was all about and decided it wasn't people's hair that was a problem. It was the brush industry. And the brush industry is designed to sell people as many brushes as they can over, you know, the period of little people growing up and then women teaching and reinforcing to women that there's something wrong with them in their hair when in actual fact there's nothing wrong with them in their hair.
So I started Happy Hairbrush and, you know, started to make myself happy by giving people a brush and getting them to try it. I just found that this business made me really happy. Every time someone got this brush and was just like, “Oh my God, it works!”.
The business is now five, and the $80,000 of debt has been paid off.
Last year we donated over $80,000 to the McGrath Foundation in the support of breast cancer nurses, and we support women in violence shelters. And we provide brushes to hope and a suitcase for kids that are foster kids.
Last financial year we just turned over less than just slightly under $2 million.”
What's so powerful is to be able to use your voice as you've done, sharing that story, itt gives other women who are in those situations to know that one day you can come out the other side and you can feel safe enough to talk about it?
“ Yes. And I guess the other thing that I did with this is I didn't shield it from Rose. We were just celebrating this morning because I spoke at the Mama Creatives event last night. She's 11. This all happened when she was three. Happy Hairbrush started when she was about six. She interviewed me and we spoke in front of a crowd of people.
And on the way home, Rose is beaming with excitement. She's like, ‘We really made a difference, Mum.’ She said to me, ‘You know what, Mum? I know that when I grow up, no matter what happens, I know how to hustle, I know how to sew, you know, I know how to create business. I know what I'm doing here. I will never, ever need to rely on anybody else. I'll be able to take care of myself no matter where I am.’
And I couldn't be any prouder because my daughter will never have to rely on anyone else, although she will lead people, she knows that she can take care of herself.
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