At 93 years old, Fella Hamilton still keeps tabs on the 50-year-old family business that bears her name. And her experience in business has lessons for others seeking a similar longevity.
- Name: Fella Hamilton
- Business name: Fella Hamilton
- Industry: Clothing
- Number of employees: 170
- Operating since: 1969
What was your first paid job?
Ladies shoes sales pro.
What made you get into your current business?
I was inspired by a woman I saw in the sauna wearing a terry towelling turban. Upon finding out this was from London and unavailable in Australia, I set out to create my own, and the business grew from there.
How did you get your very first customer/client?
Reaching out to pharmacies to offer them wholesale of the Fella Hamilton turban.
What has been your biggest triumph in business?
When the department stores began to buy Fella Hamilton. It was a thrill to see my products stocked in the high street stores!
Conversely, what has been your biggest mistake?
Not going into retail earlier. Unfortunately, the business did not thrive towards the end of our wholesaling period. If we had not moved into selling our products directly, we would not have survived.
Moving into retail was a win-win situation for everyone. The customers got the products cheaper and had a better, more comprehensive range and choice, and we were no longer dictated to by the stores and could become masters of our own destiny from that point on.
What is the best thing about owning your own business?
Employing a lot of Australians and maintaining “Made in Australia” status.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Quality always wins.
If you could change one thing to make life easier as a business owner, what would it be and why?
Being able to know exactly what will sell well would make life as a business owner much easier. Creating new products each season is a must, but even knowing your customers doesn’t guarantee that each one will be successful.
Who do you look up to in business and why?
My son and daughter-in-law, David and Sharon. They have expanded the business to a level I never imagined.
What do you do to get away from work?
I retired from the business 13 years ago but have always loved travel, movies, exercise and good food.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.
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