INFLUENTIAL: Meet Dalby’s most inspiring business women
Stress, hard work, and perseverance are some of the key aspects of success, according to some of Dalby's leading business women.
In the lead up to International Women's Day, the Dalby Herald sat down with some of Dalby's most influential female business leaders, to chat about their humble beginnings, their trials, tribulations, and their secrets to running a business in the Western Downs.
Vicki Payne - Hub Cowork Dalby
A personalised business solution is taking Dalby by storm all thanks to a Dalby business woman and her 21st century attitude.
The Hub Cowork offers a 24/7 service where businesses and customers can hire meeting spaces and training rooms, for those who live and travel through Dalby on a regular business.
Founder Vicki Payne said the Hub enveloped everything she has achieved throughout her career in administration, local business, and direct selling.
"I was looking around for a concept where I could be involved with people, while being my own boss, and I happened to realise there were many empty offices around Dalby in the last few years," Ms Payne said.
"With everything going on in the world, I know for a fact working from home is fraught with danger as it feels like you can never get away."
Ms Payne had been in the process of preparing to open in March 2020, however was hindered by coronavirus lockdowns which gripped the nation.
As the pandemic began to fade, she was able to open her doors for their grand opening in September, 2020.
"Co-working may be new in Dalby but in the states it's massive, with cowork buildings the size of the council building," she said.
"With our space it's flexible, and we can provide everything you need to do as a small business, by offering solo work spaces, to group meeting rooms whenever you may need."
Belinda Brewer - B&B Fabrications
Belinda Brewer is one half of the husband and wife duo spearheading B&B Fabrications, servicing Dalby with their fabricating needs.
Their humble beginnings started 13 years ago when Belinda's husband had come to a crossroads of what he wanted to do next in his career.
The ultimatum that was presented to him was to either work in the mining and gas industry, or to begin a new business with his partner in crime.
He chose the latter, creating B&B Fabrications in Dalby, hitting the ground running across the Western Downs.
Mrs Brewer said it was a hard slog in the beginning, however the business has now triumphed as the go to business to help with anything steel related.
"We have a real good team here, and it's been fantastic with customers continuing to come in."
B&B Fabrications first worked with the farming industry after its inception, but has branched out to assist with the booming mining and gas industries in the Western Downs.
"For us we can accommodate any industry with any steel, we can do aluminium, stainless steel, plasma cutting, pipe bending, and more," Mrs Brewer said.
"We have items from Arrow Energy, the cattle industry, household repairs from the public, and projects from other contract companies.
"In our early days we had just worked with the farming industry, however we have made sure we can accommodate to other growing industries in our region with our high working standards."
Chantal Hart - Makeup artist/hair stylist
Styling dynamo Chantal Hart has been the one stop shop for all hair and beauty needs in the Western Downs for several years.
Operating out of her new studio in Dalby, Mrs Hart originally began her beauty endeavour in Jandowae when she was 18-years-old, running her own business.
"I was driving out there everyday, and it was a big risk for me but it ended up being the best decision ever," Mrs Hart said.
"I'd be working there six days a week, eating lunch on my way home every night, doing everything from perms to foils, and having people come from as far as Chinchilla, Warra, Durong, and Weranga."
Mrs Hart's business now runs as an appointment only studio for the last five years, mainly hairdressing through the week, and travelling across the region for weddings and events to do hair and make up.
"Between all the hairdressing, the weddings, the quotes, and my own product line, it's insane," she said.
"I like operating my business on a personal level, but it's been crazy busy at the moment, and trying to do it with kids can be hard."
Mrs Hart can do everything from colouring, cuts, makeup, and hair styling, which she says has "taken off" over the last three years.
"Last year I went mobile so I've been going to weddings around the region, so Chinchilla, Toowoomba, and I have a suitcase that I can travel with which has everything I need," she said.
"I have about 53 weddings for the rest of the year, and with COVID-19 last year everyone's decided to get married in 2021."
Mrs Hart said she was drawn to the beauty profession due to her love of styling hair, saying there was nothing else she wanted to do.
"When I was qualified I gave it a break for a bit ... but I loved that creative sort of thing, and making people happy," she said.
"You're making people's day, with customers getting a spring in their step after they get their makeup and hair done."
Natalie Jackson - Holistic Skin and Body
For Holistic Skin and Body's Natalie Jackson, her favourite part of her business is helping clients "float" out of the room, in a state of relaxation following her immersive skincare experience.
Mrs Jackson has 26 years experience in skin care, previously working as a TAFE trainer in beauty therapy before opening her business in December 2019.
She said the prospect of helping others with their skin, and skin health, partnered with the treatments, keeps her motivated everyday of the week.
"I started in the industry after high school as I had problem skin, so that's why I started," Mrs Jackson said.
"Now with my business, I love the service aspect of my job, where clients can enjoy the feel, the smell, and the sounds of my treatments."
Mrs Jackson moved to Dalby with her family almost 11 years ago, and saw a way she could bring something new to the community.
"I love the product I work with right now, and I feel like I'm able to bring something different to the community rather than replicate what others are doing," she said.
"You get so much satisfaction when you see clients come back and they're getting results, and it's good for their self esteem and confidence.
"I love helping them with that."
Robyn Volker - Creative Embroidery
Robyn Volker is at the helm of Dalby's longest running embroidery shop with her husband, being involved in the business since its inception 21 years ago.
Creative Embroidery services the community through their shopfront in Dalby, creating everything from school uniforms to dance wear.
Mrs Volker said she had been working there since the beginning, doing the "mummy shift" while her kids were at school.
"I'd start to do longer days when the kids could walk here, and when they could catch the bus home themselves," Mrs Volker said.
"Then my sister moved on, and my husband and I have been running it ever since."
She said the store was "quite small" when they started, but grew their clientele over the years by offering premium embroidery work.
"We were able to diversify as the years went on with the schools and embroidery," she said.
"And we've been helping the community for 21 years this year."
Amanda Lum - Lum's Chinese
Since its inception, Lum's Chinese has created and delivered delectable food from the orient for the hungry punters of Dalby.
Amanda Lum and her husband Raymond have been leading the way in takeaway and dine in Chinese catering for three years, seeing a gap in the market of delicious meals.
"We've had our ups and downs through COVID-19, so we're only just starting to get back into the swing of things," Mrs Lum said.
"We are finding our way through it all."
The restaurant was created through Mr Lum's experience in a Chinese kitchen, with Mrs Lum partnering with her husband to create a hospitable experience for their hungry customers.
"We had a huge reception from the community on our opening night, we were just flat out," she said.
"I don't think we left until near midnight we had that many customers."
The business now employs four workers to help the restaurant, especially on weekends, with a high influx of customers in search of delicious food.
Lum's Chinese was severely impacted during coronavirus lockdowns in 2020, forcing the business to survive purely from takeaway meals.
"We had to completely change the front room to follow with restrictions, and we had to operate as takeaway only," Mrs Lum said.
"We were worried about how that was going to go, but we survived because we received a lot of support from the Dalby community."
Regi Lehman - Kobbers Motor Inn
When it comes to hospitality, Regi Lehman of Kobbers Motor Inn has you covered, as she knows it's more than just handing a key over.
Ms Lehman and her partner Ben Clemens have been operating the Inn for two years, moving from Jervis Bay New South Wales at the end of Mr Clemens' illustrious navy career.
"When my daughter was eight, Ben was about to go to sea for a long time, so we sat down and asked ourselves what we wanted to do, and looked at what we love," Ms Lehman said.
"I loved hospitality, and Ben had been in it before, so we started looking for motels, and then this popped up, and looked promising."
The power couple then began planning to buy the business, and successfully moved from New South Wales after Mr Clemens' squadron was recognised for their efforts at sea.
Not everything was smooth sailing for the moteliers, with Ms Lehman having to organise the entire family's move and the purchase of the Inn while Mr Clemens was away on assignment.
Now working as a team, Ms Lehman said they've been able to provide a hospitable atmosphere for work away customers, drawing from their past experiences.
"We have corporates coming up, being away from their families, and we understand what they're going through," she said.
"It's more than a bed and a telly, they want to have a bit of social time as well, because it helps with their mental health, and I'd like to think we provide that."
Melinda Hay - Hayes Jewellers of Dalby
Customers can look no further than Hays Jewellers of Dalby if they're looking for a wealth of experience and affordable luxurious jewellery.
Melinda Hay has been operating the jewellery store in the Western Downs with her husband Glen since 1994, offering a wonderful shopping experience to Dalby customers.
Originally branching out from Toowoomba, Mrs Hay said the store first operated in Cunningham St, before officially combining their stores in the revamped Dalby Shoppingworld in 2006.
"We've been very well supported because we have been in the Downs for so long," Mrs Hay said.
"We had a customer come in recently who remembered her parents buying her a watch from Glen's father in 1949 in Toowoomba.
"As jewellers we get those stories all of the time."
Mrs Hay said the shop's "wealth of experience" partnered with their hardworking employees has contributed to their success over nearly three decades.
"There's a saying in the jewellery industry, which is 'know your jeweller, you don't need to know your jewellery'," she said.
"People are often worried about buying something, and it's not what they're expecting it to be.
"With our experience, we have helped customers for 27 years find the right item, whether it is a necklace, ring, or anything they desire."
Elisha Beil - Southside Quality Meats and Butcher's Pantry co-owner
First working at the front counter at Southside Quality Meats alongside her husband 18 years ago, Elisha Beil now pioneers her own side of the business through its delicious coffee and delicious catering. .
Mrs Beils' husband entrepreneurial spirit led to him purchasing the butcher shop nearly two decades ago, joining her husband in his new business.
"I've had different roles since the beginning, and I've always had to juggle being a mum and a wife," Mrs Beil said.
"It's been a big chunk of my life for the past 18 years."
Mrs Beil began her foray into accounting and looked after the books for the butcher, helping the business anyway she can.
The Butcher's Pantry Cafe then opened four years ago, which has been Mrs Beil's "baby" ever since, having creative control over the coffee and takeaway side of the business.
Since then, it has blossomed into a fast paced takeaway and catering business, with wedding bookings lasting until October.
She has also relished in the opportunity to work and bond with her team.
"We've been loving the second stream of the business, running the catering alongside takeaway and coffee," Mrs Beil said.
"It has had its challenges, but we've grown a lot, especially in the past year."
Marg Bowden - Marg's Curtains
Marg Bowden's passion for sewing and everything that comes with it can be seen through her 30 years experience and her services she provides from her shop along Cunningham St.
Marg's Curtains does everything curtains, cushions, bed throws, bed spreads, blinds, shades, and more in her spacious workshop in Dalby.
Operating at her third shopfront in Dalby since 2005, Mrs Bowden said she has received "lots" of local support from her community.
"When I opened I was only really going to have fabric samples and sew, and it just evolved from there," Mrs Bowden said.
"We had people coming in for lace, and ready made, and I realised if that's the sort of thing people were chasing, then we'll get them in."
Her large workshop encompasses sewing machines, large working desks, rolls of fabrics and curtains, and is any homeowners dream if they're looking to style their interiors.
Mrs Bowden said business has been booming since last year, but she wouldn't have it any other way.
"This has been a passion for a long time, and I don't see it as a job," Mrs Bowden said.
"It's somewhere I can go where it doesn't matter what's going on outside, I can come here, and I'll be happy."