WOMEN IN STYLE | Meet Julia Spicer, Entrepreneur, Small Business supporter and Women In Style.

Meet Julia Spicer, Entrepreneur, Small
Business supporter, and Women In Style. 

We sit down with the delightful Julia Spicer, an entrepreneur helping make a change to the small business landscape, right here in Goondiwindi. We learn how Julia came to be a Goondiwindi local, discuss the concept behind The House and the future she envisions for rural business communities.

Julia, tell us a little about yourself…

I came to Goondiwindi about 15 years ago for a 3-month contract and never left!  I’ve always lived and worked in rural areas and think we have so much to offer!  My husband Tony and I live just out of town on a small block and we love the space that provides us. 
I’m an entrepreneur at heart, there’s always ideas churning and things I’m reading about or listening to that I am contemplating how that could work in our community or for someone I know.  I am always keen to connect people – together we really can achieve so much!

We are loving The House, can you tell us the concept behind it and where the idea came from?

Tony & I have been in business with our friends Christina and James Duddy for the last 7 years in The Goondiwindi Business Hub. It continues to serve as a space for businesses to rent small offices and have the support and camaraderie of other tenants. This has worked so well that we wanted to replicate it for retail and service businesses. It is so important to have a vibrant main street.  
Rent in bigger shops though can sometimes be a killer for a small business wanting to test the waters in making the move from being home based. This was really the idea behind the house – setting it up so that home-based businesses (predominantly female led) could have main street and public presence, without the huge expense of managing the entire rent of a space.  It is an incubator of sorts – some businesses might be there forever. Hopefully, others will outgrow the space and need to take on a vacant, larger space somewhere else in town. In the meantime, they are contributing to the vibrancy of our main street.

How would you describe your style?

Is non-existent a style?! Thankfully I work with two super stylish ladies who check on me almost daily! I wear what makes me feel good, and what I hope I look good in – if I don’t feel it, it finds a new home quickly! I work on an “Op shop or opulence” mantra given my sustainability background – the fast fashion industry and the cheapness of clothes is certainly a challenge – so there are lots of second-hand clothes in my wardrobe, or good quality lasting pieces, like Goondiwindi Cotton.

Everyone is talking about the Regional Women In Business Long Lunch that you recently hosted at The House, how has the small business landscape changed in the last 5 years...

Wowser! Heaps! Great question! From my experience there’s a few things going on – governments don’t have as much $$ and they are looking at different ways to continue to have economic stimulus in the country.  One of the most untapped and undervalued sectors is the role of women in business, and particularly in home-based or gig economy roles.  
Goondi is overflowing with women in this space.  We have seen more support to grow and nurture women in business, particularly product based businesses. There is a massive focus on ‘circular economy’ and how business can play a role in finding new income streams from perceived waste or unused products. I think this is a great opportunity for regional brains – as we have a history of innovation and finding crafty ways to use things!
People and small business are realising that they can’t do it by themselves (or not very well anyway), and it’s been great to see so many different collaborations – look at this series for example, Goondiwindi Cotton and Farmer’s Friend working together to showcase a whole range of businesses to benefit everyone – I think we will see more of this as people realise that a more collaborative approach is better for all – competition is so 2000’s!

A vision for the future...

The challenge moving forward is how to find people with the values and passion for our small businesses. This will take some new ideas and some different thinking – particularly in our smaller centres where we don’t have the population. But with every challenge comes opportunity so I’m excited to see what could happen! Other opportunities on the horizon I’m excited about – regional tourism, projects such as Inland Rail, stronger and more diverse leadership in our rural areas and being part of a business community that wants to support each other to grow – that’s a future I want to be part of, and if Tony and I can support this and be part of the solution with the House and the Hub then we’re achieving our vision.
Imagery shot by The Farmers Friend @the_farmers_friend

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