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Ever since she had been part of a successful Young Enterprise Scheme team at high school, Laura Crombie had wanted to own her own business. She’s now the owner of a thriving Taranaki fashion boutique, and with help from her Business Mentor she is looking to take it well beyond the region.

With tertiary education in design and photography, and experience running events both locally and internationally, including the London Olympics, Laura returned to Taranaki in 2012, and was looking for opportunities.

“I didn’t have a retail background, but have been described as a shopaholic, and had styled and photographed fashion shoots,” Laura says.

“When I saw Katwalk was for sale it seemed like a great fit, plus I had three friends all independently tell me ‘I had to do this’!”

Laura brought the business in December 2012, and within three months had completely redone the interior, again calling on her design background, and built a growing social media network around both the fashion and the positive lifestyle that it – and life in Taranaki – reflects.

“We’re able to do things a bit differently to a lot of other fashion retailers. For example we can purchase our stock on a weekly basis, meaning we can be really responsive to things like weather or events and better meet our customer’s needs.”

Recognising that while she knew where the business was going in terms of both fashion and marketing and had a great accountant to cover the financial side of things, Laura still had a gap when it came to business strategy.

Her accountant steered her in the direction of the Venture Taranaki administered Business Mentors New Zealand programme, and she was matched with experienced mentor Julie Beck. 

“It has been fantastic, and Julie has been really good. We meet monthly, usually over a lunchtime, and there are regular emails with specific questions or advice,” says Laura.

“With Julie’s help I’ve been able to focus on the business and get a really good business plan together which is helping me grow to where I want to be.”

“She sets me goals for each meeting, which is fantastic as it would otherwise be easy to get caught in the day to day aspects of the business.”

  From the Olympics to the Katwalk    

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