Five years is a long time in retail these days, especially with the advent of online shopping. However, Vanessa Kidwell, the owner of LivedIn Coogee has not only survived what has been a tough time for many, but she has managed to thrive. After opening her homewares store in August 2010 she gained a strong local customer base and three years later was able to expand into the space next door when it became available. Over the years she has formed a good bond with one of her suppliers, Lisa Wright of African Trading Port, and they have often talked about opening a pop-up shop together. When Richard Unsworth from Garden Life recently relocated his premises, the opportunity arose. “Another little silent wish of mine has been to have an interiors store with a cafe attached, which this provides us,” Vanessa says. “It was a quick decision and in a week we moved in and opened up on the 18th May. We were determined not to be just a ‘pop up’ and have poured our energy - mentally and physically - to provide the area with a showcase of what we do.” Alongside their wares is the vintage clothing collection of former Sass + Bide founder Sarah-Jane Clarke which will change on a regular basis, as will the homewares. The pop-up store is at 357 Cleveland St, Surry Hills, Sydney.
Which five words best describe you? Hard-working, loyal, goal-driven, creative and determined - my daughter suggested busy!
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I have fallen into this of sorts. When I first opened, I was in my mind opening a local interiors store, something that gave me a balance and lifestyle - only in my dreams! Quickly realising that to achieve my desire to constantly change product and evolve it takes constant hard work and sourcing - hours spent either on the computer or driving to find the pieces that speak to me, five years on, I have nutted out the parts of owning the store I love more than others which is the buying and sourcing, keeping in contact with my customers also top my list, you will always fine me in store at least one to two days a week to keep my finger on the pulse and connect with my loyal clients.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Trust my gut, it doesn’t often lie.
What’s your proudest career achievement? Opening the store and thriving in business for five years.
What’s been your best decision? Taking the leap to import some of my own product that I can hand pick myself, the one-off special pieces that you know only you have. You have to keep on top of the look of the store and be consistent in providing the customer with the products that inspire them.
Who inspires you? I could name a multitude of people, the like-minded women I have met in the last five years within this industry, they all have a story and juggle life and business which keeps me inspired on the days when you are wondering what the hell you are doing! But, ultimately, I have to say my friends and family. If it wasn’t for them and the support they all give me in different forms, friends who constantly help in different ways be it taking my children or helping unpack a container, my kids who constantly listen to what I need to do and don’t often moan, I hope that by being a working mum I am showing the girls that when you work hard you achieve what you aim for; David, my husband, works extremely hard in his career and is a great sounding board in my indecisive moments, and sets me back on track when I am losing sight.
What are you passionate about? My family. All of our extended family still lives in New Zealand so the little family I have here in Sydney of the girls and my husband are something I have learn’t needs to be worked on as much as the business.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? At the moment I have an infatuation with artist Leah Fraser’s artwork - it talks to me.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I would love to own a boutique hotel. I think that is a way down the road, but you can’t help but dream.
What are you reading? To be honest not much in the last few months, except for accounts and invoices but I have just picked up the latest edition of Adore Magazine the Paradise edition, where my lovely friends from Three Birds Renovations feature. I am excited to see their next renovation - number three is about to begin
images courtesy of natalie walton