While I was cooking up this idea for a women's sex shop in the mid 90's, I was living a very simple life of travel and parties. I'd been on the dole, dabbled in jewellery design, waitressed and studied arts and religion intermittently. I'd had a number of ideas for different businesses but none of them stuck around for longer than about six months.
This sex shop idea though, really started to take hold and when I was given a template of a business plan by my brother, I started to seriously research it. 'Serious research' meant talking to as many women as I could about it and getting them to answer a simple survey about their sexual shopping habits.
Of course nobody had ever even contemplated this sort of thing before but when I explained the concept, their eyes widened, heads nodded and lips curled up at the corners. Up until then, most shopping for sex toys was done by a male partner, from a catalogue or at a home shopping style party.
I remember sitting in the David Jones food hall one day chatting to some business women and they just couldn't believe what they were hearing. 'A nice sex shop? Hell yeah, we'd go there!!'
So I thought the concept was pretty good but I had zero money. Being on the dole at the time meant that I could apply to the NEIS scheme where the government would provide business mentoring and payments for the first year of business. So of course I applied and low and behold, I got in! As per advice from the mentors, I didn't explain in my application that it was a sex shop I was opening, but a 'lingerie' store. Boy oh boy did those guys love the idea! It must have been the most exciting thing they'd seen since drive through car washes!
Next on the agenda was finding money to actually buy stock and rent a shop. I knew I had to ask my retailer parents and that was probably the biggest hurdle of all. We weren't exactly a warm and fuzzy, talk about everything type of family so how was I going to broach the subject? I reckoned I'd need about $40,000.00 to get set up so I was going to have to have a pretty good pitch.
I worked up all my courage, went over to my parent's place for dinner with several bottles of good wine and began...."So I've had this idea for a business and wanted to see what you'd think of me opening up a women's style...sex shop...."
They both looked at me and my dad said "Oh I've heard there's good money in that. I'll help you"
And that's essentially how I got the ball rolling. A bit of help from the government, without who's help I'd never have survived, a lot of help from my parents and family who all pitched in with advice, cleaning, mentoring and money and my partner who did the very challenging NEIS course for me so I could concentrate on getting things set up.
I really didn't have any negative feedback from anybody. Everyone around me was 100% supportive, even Jeffrey Wilson, the Richmond Real Estate Agent who read my business plan and did everything he could to secure a good lease for me. Without that support and the shared vision of a better way of doing things, Passionfruit would never have opened its doors.
Next month - Working on my philosophy, values and mission. Day 1 of business June 11th 1998
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