CHLOE and Ryan Hodgkinson, Cairo, Clermont, have a large cattle business, two young children, and now they own a small business in town.
At Cairo, which runs a 5000 head commercial herd on 25,000ha 60km north of Clermont, selling directly into the EU market, Mr and Mrs Hodgkinson have their own herd of 100.
Since purchasing the previously Emerald-based Kennedy and Grace story, Mrs Hodgkinson said life has become even more of a “balancing act”.
“We have two young kids, Duke who is six next week, he is in prep and attends the Kilcummin State School, and Denbi who is three and comes to work with me,” she said.
“It’s a balancing act and I still haven’t found that perfect balance yet, but am working on it.
“I am extremely lucky to have an amazing husband who has helped me every step of the way, and our families help immensely too.”
Mrs Hodgkinson said the challenge of opening the small business in such tough times was something she considered, but did not let impact her goals to establish the storefront.
Kennedy and Grace, originally based in Emerald, is a store focused on homewares with a country feel.
Mrs Hodgkinson said she bought the store because she had always loved interior styling.
“I had been looking at doing something for a while but I could never put my finger on anything that allowed me the flexibility of being my own boss, as well as it being possible to take my children to work with me,” she said.
“Then I came across Kennedy and Grace for sale in Emerald and everything fell into place from there.
“Kennedy and Grace, before I purchased had previously been operating in Emerald for five years and it was great to already have that name that people know.”
She said opening the store also gave her a chance to bring something back to Clermont, which has been hurting since the downturn in the mining industry.
The town has seen local businesses disappear rapidly over the past five years, with precious few appearing to take their place.
Mrs Hodgkinson said it was important that the next generation step up and make the hurting towns what they used to be.
“I have always lived in and around Clermont, and it has a special place in my heart,” she said.
“That is why I am so excited to bring a new business to the town and hopefully spark a bit of excitement, offering some products that wouldn’t have already been available in a small town.”
She said so far, the business has been operating very well and said the support from the community exceeded her expectations, and made the first month of business a “major success”.
With a strong social media presence, Mrs Hodgkinson is firmly marking her place in the business world, and after heavy demand in her first month of operation has expanded her opening hours to six days per week.
She has also hired a staff member to work in the shop, and said supporting the local community came in many different ways.