Julie St Clair - My Journey
Updated: Jul 30, 2019
When I was young I didn’t know what I wanted to be! I didn’t dream about becoming a ballerina, movie star, nurse or makeup artist but what I did know was I liked ‘dressing up’ and had a keen eye for colour and the fashion of the day! In fact I dressed up my 3 younger brothers in Mum’s clothes, scarves and shoes -nothing fitted but I thought I had them looking pretty spiffy...! I only get away with this once or twice!!
After I left school I worked in my father’s business as Office Admin (an Office Clerk in those days!) for his furniture manufacturing business. If I’m honest I would have to say I knew immediately that this was NOT going to be my ‘dream job’, but family have strong ties and I stayed in that job for 8 years. I’ll always appreciate the steady income and good grounding that first opportunity gave me.
It was the early 80's and direct sales had begun to evolve, and being the adventurous soul that I was, I recognised an opportunity to create some extra income whilst utilising my people skills and passion for skincare and cosmetics. This opportunity began a long love affair with direct sales and the freedom it offered.
Working for myself within the direct sales arena, was my opportunity to shine and show some of my entrepreneurial spirit. My parents were a bit perplexed as “Party Plan” was a very new industry and certainly not a traditional one, but as always, they gave their support as best they could.
Direct Sales helped shape my life and business skills in ways that I may not have developed had I continued down a traditional business role. I chose the Skincare Cosmetics Industry and I loved meeting such a diverse range of women and being in a position to help them feel better about themselves, either by being a customer of the products I specialised in or by joining me in my beauty business as a Consultant. I enjoyed building a team of like-minded women the most.
Back in 1983 there were no part-time income opportunities like there are today, and direct sales opened up a world of part-time opportunity for women. The challenge of building a customer base, building a team of women to work with me within my business and achieving great sales provided me with some of the highest awards for personal and team sales several years in a row. It was such a fantastic and rewarding time in my working life.
Over the years the rewards that I could earn motivated me and I had wonderful success including a company car, many incredible overseas all-expenses-paid trips to exciting places (travel was my hot button!!) and wonderful awards and gifts along the way. But the greatest reward has always been supporting the women around me and seeing them respond to my encouragement, nurturing and education to achieve their personal successes and rewards, big and small....that’s the real reward. Being a cheerleader for another woman’s success is truly a fulfilling experience.
Perfecting my skills is always a personal endeavour of mine, and I like to up-skill wherever possible. From skills in sales, product training, team building, communication, makeup skills as well as personal development, I have and continue to embrace personal growth.
In the late 80’s I was looking for something else that would excite me and create another income stream so I completed extensive training as a Colour and Image Consultant - when big shoulders and big hair was all the rage!
Life has its ups and downs, successes and failures, mine has been no different! The decisions I’ve made have not always been, in hindsight, in my best interests, but they have always been made with the purest of right intention.
After many years of success in a direct selling career with one company, two other women and I decided it was time to create our own Direct Sales company and we ventured into a different direction. Together we were experienced and skilled in many areas and had a good business plan, but it was not enough to avoid business failure! After nearly five years we had to relinquish our company into the hands of the receivers. This was a truly difficult time and my self-confidence, my finances and my living arrangements were severely affected. I felt stuck and couldn’t see the up side for some time.
Of course it’s at times like this that I felt most tested and in despair, struggling with feelings of failure and unworthiness. I have learned from these experiences and understand that they have made me the wise, mature and purposeful woman that I am today.
Moving forward from this experience I decided to try another approach. I sourced a jewellery wholesaler and scarf importer and began my own in-home accessory direct sales business, I did this for 18 months and loved it, it was so therapeutic at the time.
Whilst I was running my accessories business I was gaining experience working in retail sales - firstly in bridal wear with Mariana Hardwick and then Linda Britten, it was a whole new ball game and I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with brides-to-be and helping them select their wedding dress and accessories. I also enjoyed working part-time in fashion in Hawthorn, Armadale and Kew.
Now I was ready to get back into what I loved and to supplement my income once again and became a consultant and trainer in direct sales with an Australian Skincare and Cosmetics Company, a company in which I’m still involved today.
It was at this time that I met my Partner of over 20 years, John. We met at a ‘Singles’ Event at Prahran Town Hall on the eve of Valentine’s Day! He was a tower of strength and someone I could trust with my heart back then. Now he is all that and more...
In 1997 I began a wedding and special occasion Makeup service and in 2000 I registered it as a Business. Style & Grace was born and it continues today as a well respected and successful wedding industry supplier with close to 1,000 happy Brides to it’s name. I love helping Brides look gorgeous on their Wedding Day and it's quite an honour to be invited into their homes at such an auspicious time.... I’m grateful for their trust in me.
I have also enjoyed and appreciated the time spent and the wisdom gained working on other projects over recent years.
Assisting a close friend in establishing an online business in the health and wellness industry which is still going strong. An exciting and satisfying experience.
Co-Creator of a monthly Networking Events Club for Women to connect and talk with like minded women for support, inspiration, friendship and fun.
Creator and co-organiser of a wellness event called New Energy Festival in 2012, this event gathered 50+ small businesses and solo business Exhibitors together to showcase their products and services to the public, it was held twice a year, in 2016 we decided it was time to hang up our hat.... with no regrets!
Over the aforementioned years I have also experienced the sorrow of miscarriage and the grief of losing my beautiful Mum in 2013. Grief is an ongoing process that ebbs and flows and is so unique to each person. I despaired of seeing my Father living with dementia and yet found joy in spending quality time with him, his recent passing (31.08.16) while penning this blog has added another dimension to the mosaic of my life.
All this whilst experiencing the emotional ups and downs of being a baby boomer getting older and endeavouring to age gracefully!! Through these experiences I’ve cried buckets of tears, punched pillows, screamed out loud, I’ve learned a lot about business, relationships and myself.
Life is certainly a journey and I’ve learnt that embracing the journey and maximising the joy in mine and other’s lives is the best approach. I am motivated to reveal more of myself in a more public way than ever before, because I recognise and value the importance of being authentic and ‘real’.
I can’t wait to experience what other challenges and gifts life has in store for me.
I look forward to sharing my journey and adding value to yours.