Once upon a time...

It took me about five hours to decide to open The Shoe Garden ... seriously!

In early November 2011, after an exceptionally busy year and nearly 10 years in fundraising and many more as a journalist and PR manager, I woke up physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted after a major event. I was spent and I needed a change. I didn't know what to do next ... until suddenly I did. I really wanted to leave my established career, take a risk and open my own Size 10 and Up women’s shoe shop.

So I resigned and gave 11 weeks’ notice, sold my house and rented it back just as I had planned, and began using my own capital to create The Shoe Garden.

I was so lucky. I found the perfect premises near where I live, opposite a lovely park in a charming cottage on popular Riding Road in Hawthorne, Brisbane. Everyone I dealt with in those early days, weeks and months was so kind and so helpful. 

On 14 April, 2012, I had to pinch myself as I opened the beautiful Shoe Garden and I can honestly say that I've never been happier. Sure, I'm sometimes stressed to the eyeballs like any small business owner and retailer, but I love what I do. I really do.

My gorgeous customers range in age from 10 to 90 and over the years, I have been hugged and high-fived and made to feel so special by so many women with longer feet who now have a range of gorgeous shoes available to them. They truly make my job not so much a job but a happy adventure filled with laughter and divine shoes! 

As I say at The Shoe Garden, no nanna shoes are allowed in! When sourcing all my shoes, I have and will always have two criteria: they have to be available up to at least a Size 12, and preferably longer, and they have to be gorgeous! For way too long, we've had to wear ugly shoes. No more!

From the start, I wanted to turn The Shoe Garden into a not-just-for-profit that gives grassroots assistance to women in Africa. I truly believe that if you support and empower women, you support and empower the entire community. I finally achieved this in April 2015. With every sale from then on, I donate to an amazing charity, MicroLoan Foundation Australia, that provides small loans to women in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe to assist them in starting or growing their businesses. 

Over the years, I have learned so much about being in business (I've even written a book about my first four challenging years). After a career where I was never myself (as a journalist, I was always the impartial observer; as a PR Manager I was always the spokesperson for my organisation or CEO; and as a Fundraising Manager I was always the spokesperson for the people we were supporting), I can now finally be me! I wear caftans instead of corporate suits; I get to be creative and ensure my own high standards are always met; and I no longer have a photo of CC on my desk ... I actually have her sitting on my desk!

I look forward to welcoming you to The Shoe Garden soon, either in-store or online.

Love Carol & CC x

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