Today we welcome Karen Civello to our Inspiring Stories series. Karen is an incredibly uplifting woman with an unforgettable story, and an unusual but very successful business.
We asked Karen some leading questions about life and business, and here’s what she had to say.
Inspiring Stories – What was the idea behind your current business, Mr Mustang Hire?
It all started around sixty years ago with my husband’s (AKA – MR MU5TANG) love of classic muscle cars. Vince, a panel beater by trade, had worked on Mustangs and as a little boy dreamed of owning one some day.
A few years ago, around the time of Vince’s birthday, I presented him with a turquoise blue Mustang – complete with a bow. It was literally a dream come true for Vince, and from that the fledgeling idea for a new business came about.
We called the Mustang, ‘Sally.’
Sally’s a 1965 Ford Mustang Coupe, and she’s become somewhat of a celebrity in her own right featuring in several commercial fashion shoots, magazines and blogs.
And she’s definitely the preferred classic car, vintage Mustang for hire in South West Australia for weddings, tours, transfers and events!
Since we began operation in 2018 with our first Mustang our business has grown, and we took a leap of faith, and I applied for my ‘F’ extension so I can now drive as a chauffeur too.
We’ve recently bought a second vehicle – a Grabber Blue 2017 GT 5.0 V8 Convertible Mustang we’ve called Salvatore’.
Now we have the ability to transport up to six (6) passengers in the two vehicles – We look forward to seeing you on the road with us soon 🙂
Read the full story behind our business Mr Mustang Hire.
Read about our Taste, Tapas & Tour in the Geographe Region of South West Australia.
What were the first steps in the creation of Mr Mustang Hire?
We completed a business plan and cash flow forecast, licensed the vehicle, and had marketing material produced.
Following that …
- I learnt more about social media marketing,
- I connected with like-minded business people and reached out to business owners who had products/ services we could collaborate with.
- I connected with business women for support, and took each day as it came – as I was still recovering from burnout after closing our retreat business.
- Then we continued to market the business before I completed my ‘F Class’ extension so I to could drive as a chauffeur within our business.
What’s your biggest challenge in life, and how do you deal with it?
Let me start by saying, the body knows how to heal itself, but I think that the greatest challenge is to silence the mind.
Ultimately life’s challenges can be a source of growth and even happiness.
Learning something new, managing to solve a certain life problem is how self-confidence is built, which leads us to feeling more confident about ourselves.
If we ‘think’ differently about problems/ challenges and see them as opportunities for growth them we can greatly improve our self-confidence.
All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become. So make sure your thoughts are positive and healthy!
What has been a breakthrough moment in your life?
Life seems to drop many bags of gold in our path, and rarely do they look like what they are.
Indeed, my cancer diagnosis was a gift, a wake-up call to make the most of the here and now, that’s why it is called the ‘present’.
The only way through life is to stay positive and maintain one’s sense of humour.
Life dropped me a bag of gold that I have recognised and will use to enrich my life, my loved one’s lives, and the lives of others.
Where are you now, as you write?
In my office in Bridgetown, South West Australia, sitting at the pc answering these questions and thinking about food.
What have you learned about life?
That you never stop learning. And that true strength comes from managing calmness – calmness and serenity are true signs of confidence, power and effectiveness.
What are your hopes for the future?
I don’t particularly like the word ‘hope’ because it relates to a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.
I prefer to use positive affirmations (e.g., the action or process of affirming something) using language in the present tense as if it has already happened.
For example, I am healthy, wealthy and well, rather than ‘I hope to be healthy, wealthy and well’.
3 Tips for women entrepreneurs.
- Always … collaboration over competition. If women come together they can achieve so much more. Though for some women insecurity and self-doubt prevents this from happening.
- Self-care. Burnout is real. Take time to rest (not quit), breathe, exercise, meditate, sleep, eat nutritious foods and stay hydrated.
- Be yourself because an original is worth more than a copy. Focus on your own shit.
Please share a little about your life and work history.
It’s long, very long… I’ve been a chef (employed), stripper (business owner at Breathless Promotions Pty Ltd), a personal trainer (business owner at Australian Body Fitness & Performance Training), massage therapist (business owner), counsellor (business owner), and award winning retreat owner (business owner at KalyaaNa Spa & Wellness Retreat).
Currently I’m owner, driver/ chauffeur and social media/ brand ambassador/ marketing manager/ On-Demand Booking Service agent for Mr Mustang Hire.
I was born in 1972 at King Edward Memorial Hospital and I grew up in National Parks around Australia as my father was a National Park Ranger. He worked in Exmouth, Cervantes, Walpole, Denmark, and Kununurra.
I left Kununurra in 1989 to continue my apprenticeship as a chef in Perth.
I have two biological brothers (one deceased), and two step brothers. My parents divorced in the late 80’s. Both remarried, and my mother lives in Tasmania, while my father lives in Queensland.
As a young woman I lived a frenzied life of drugs and alcohol. Depression and anxiety soon descended and I have battled with both much of my life.
I completed a university double degree in 2010 – a BPsych(Hons) in Criminology.
Then I completed six months of my Provisional Psych registration before deciding that I wanted to pursue my lifelong dream of operating a wellness retreat.
I met my now husband (Vince) at our place of employment Outcare in 2010, and we moved to Bridgetown, and within six months of knowing each other we’d bought the property we currently live in, and from where we operated our wellness retreat, KalyaaNa.
I was diagnosed with cancer in June 2012 (ten days after my 40th birthday) eight weeks after we commenced operating KalyaaNa.
Four months of chemotherapy/ radiation followed, and I’ve been in remission for seven years.
I married Vince in 2013, three months after I was given the all clear but I’ve just spent the last 18 months recovering from burnout and developing our new less stressful business – Mr Mustang Hire.
There was an article written about my personal life in 2015 which can be found at Inspired.
Do you have a personal philosophy about life?
Back yourself and give everything your best efforts. Don’t go in half-arsed. It’s 110% or nothing.
What personal characteristics would you say you have?
I’m resilient, determined, hard-working, an effective communicator, creative, loyal, honest, and insane!
What do you want to provide for other people?
In life – love, honesty/ trust and a good laugh.
In business – People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel. So in business I’d like to make people feel good. That is to create an experience/ memory that will last a life time.
What advice would you give to anyone starting up a business?
- Complete a business plan. If you don’t, then you plan to fail. It’s that simple.
- Be prepared to fail, but be even more prepared/ determined to get back up again.
- Often running a business is glorified.
- You might be led to assume that running your own business is easy, the money is great, and the lifestyle is awesome. That’s bollocks!
- Owning a business is hard work, and it’s just the start of a long road full of twists and turns. You need to be prepared to weather the storm, operate under stress, be adaptable & disciplined, work hard, and love a challenge.
- Read, learn, and acquire new skills in business management.
- Anyone can learn a trade and be great at it but not everyone is cut out for being a successful business owner. That’s a whole different skill set.
What do you do that others do not?
- I don’t quit easily.
- I put in 110% however at times that has been to the detriment of my health – burnout.
- I also meditate daily (although I’m sure there’s others who do).
Quick Fire Fun Questions
Coffee or Tea?
Coffee. I’m not human without it!!! My morning ritual is the gift of my husband making me coffee and us drinking it in bed before we begin our day.
Beer or Wine?
Wine – Semillon Sauvignon Blanc or bubbles.
Countryside or Seaside?
Depends on my mood. I’m definitely a tree hugger. Currently living in countryside but looking to move seaside
Moisturiser of the moment.
Olay 7-in-1 Day face Cream Moisturising Normal 50g
Revlon Colourstay Life Foundation Stick
Favourite clothing brand?
I’m not a brand girl. I can usually be found in active wear or jeans.
Boots and good old slides/ thongs
Where would you go on holiday tomorrow?
Camping or luxury?
Luxury although I’m not opposed to camping or is that glamping!
I love the outdoors.
Favourite Book or What are you reading right now?
Not currently reading a book at the moment, but I loved The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler.
Day to day challenge you wish you could fix?
No day to day challenges that I can currently think of that I wish I could fix.
If you can order anything at a restaurant, what would you choose?
Everything… I love food, but tapas or share plates are definitely a favourite.
Book or Bike?
Thanks so much Karen for your honesty and for sharing your inspiring stories with us, as well as for your tips and business advice for entrepreneurs. I know that Lifestyle Fifty readers will be inspired and motivated by your encouraging, heartening and uplifting words.
Over to you Lifestylers …
What do you admire most about Karen’s story?
What is your biggest challenge in life?
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