In 2002, the banks wouldn't touch us with a ten-foot pole because our only asset was our family home (which the bank already owned most of), so we had to find money some other way. My greatest fear was losing the house that Jeff and I had worked so hard for. (Admittedly, Jeff worked really hard to buy our house. While I was gallivanting around the world, Jeff was saving money. He purchased his first house as a 19-year-old — who does that? He was saving for a house and I was sailing around the world with David Bowie. The ‘Gods of Yin and Yang' must have had a good laugh when they put us together. But he had assets and I had debt — a perfect match in my opinion.)

In the end, we risked it all. We sold our only asset, the family home, and invested all the money into the business. We packed up the kids and moved the family and the business into a rental for two years.

Picking the right mentor

By the end of 2002, we had opened 15 stores and were going strong. There were 50 stores opened by the end of 2003. I could see a permanent frown on my brow — it seemed to have cut deeper into my forehead every morning. I was learning as quickly as I could. I did not have mentors; in fact, I did not have friends. I did not have time to sit down for a coffee let alone a chat. One morning in 2002, I was sitting at my desk when I saw a note to call Geoff Harris. I had spent most of my adult life abroad so I certainly was not up with the ‘who's who' in business (and these ...

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