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Emily Coker lives her life according to the motto “Life is too boring to be beige”, and with a boutique filled with colour and quirk, there is little danger of the ordinary invading her world.

I opened HJLP on 23rd Feb 2021, in between lockdowns. Many people say, “Oh, you are brave”. My reply: “You only live once.” Jude is my mum and Pete is my dad. Pete was a clinical psychologist in Tamworth, and Jude worked for Dad for many years and, prior to that, in pharmacy.

What inspired you to start Hey Jude, Love Pete?

I have always loved retail. I was 12 years old when I got my first casual job at a shop in Peel Street, Tamworth. Even at uni and living abroad, I was always in retail. I was in a managerial capacity for over seven years, which wasn’t me, and at that point, I realised life’s too short to waste your time in a career that doesn’t make you happy. So, I took the leap and opened HJLP. And I am still pinching myself that each day I get to do something that I love.

What makes Hey Jude Love Pete unique?

HJLP is about colour, comfort, and quirk - not your bulk standard. I gravitate towards buying colour. I gravitate towards buying colour. When reps or suppliers say, “This is a best seller”, I turn the other way. I want to be a point of difference.

I don’t buy in massive quantities. Sometimes, I only buy part-size runs because the customer wants to feel unique and special. They don’t want the same outfit that everyone else does. My door is always open to everyone. I have many customers who visit several times a week, often to sit and have a yarn. Sometimes, they pop to the post office for me to send off customer orders. When choosing my stock, I support as many local businesses as possible - earrings made on the Central Coast and clothing made in Sydney, for example. Meanwhile, the shop’s props are retro/mid-century. I have coloured vases and scales displaying shoes. Many customers say it is like stepping into their grandmother’s home.

What challenges did you have to overcome at the beginning of your journey?

Initially, when buying, I had to pay for stock upfront. Yet I didn’t have a lot of funds to do this. I also had to take a bit of a stab in the dark when it came to my ideal target market.

What are your strenghts and weakness when it comes to running a business?

I love to interact with everyone who walks through the door. I’m approachable, happy, honest, can laugh at myself, and I’m not pushy. But on the flip side, I am hopeless with technology. I get sidetracked and go off on tangents, and I find it hard to say no.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business?

Do it! Chase your dreams. Don’t think too much about it. I don’t have a business plan. I fumble my way through. You can too. You will make mistakes, but you will learn from them. At the end of the day, it all falls on my shoulders, which gives me the confidence that I can do anything I put my mind to (OK, maybe not a marathon)!

What’s on for Hey Jude Love Pete in 2023?

I am not a big planner, more of a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ kind of girl. I am using my own initiative and perceptions rather than having a predetermined plan.

I will be bringing some new labels to Newcastle, one of which is ‘Merry People’, and I will be the only stockist north of Sydney to Bryon Bay. No doubt I will be adding more COLOUR. And then maybe a smidgen more colour! I also get asked frequently if I will open another store in regional areas. I would never say never, so who knows?

I get the same question in regard to a website. Again, I would never say never, but for now, I am all about supporting bricks and mortar rather than going online.

location: NEWCASTLE, NSW



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