This is the beginning of a series about inspiring women, and their tips for a lifestyle business.
We’re talking to women who have either battled against the odds, overcome heartache or hardship or just grabbed the bull by the horns and embarked on a new path later in life when the kids have left home.
We’ll be featuring their tips and hints for success, along with their stories about how it all came to pass.
Inspiring Women with tips for a Lifestyle Business
If you’d like to feature in this series, then I’d love to hear from you, so please let me know, and drop a note in the comments section.
Triumph after Tragedy
Today we feature Jo McIntosh, who turned tragedy into triumph. From small beginnings selling goods from a garage, and then following the untimely death of her husband, she’s built a thriving and absorbing business which taps into her passion.
Rustic French Living is her gift and furniture store near Bunbury in Western Australia, but right now she is resident in a small Medieval town in France renovating a property that she hopes one day to run as a business too.
Over to you Jo!
I was married at 21, worked for six years, then had two daughters. I was a happy stay at home Mum in New Zealand and during this time, my friend Jacquie and I had a small home based business called Matthew & Melissa. This was a Christmas barn filled with handmade products, children’s clothes and Christmas gifts.
When my children, Chelsea and Melissa turned 7 and 10 respectively, the opportunity arose to move to Western Australia. It was a huge wrench leaving family and friends but we knew we would grow as people if we did.
We thrived in roles at Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School, quickly becoming part of the school community. After six and a half years, my husband Tony became Head of Boarding, a role he loved and one that I supported him in 100%.
Tragedy struck six months later when Tony suddenly collapsed and died. Our whole world was thrown upside down – both in our family and within the boarding and school community. My dreams for the future for our family, and my role as the Head of Boarding’s wife and support suddenly went out of the window.
Pressure from the family to move back to New Zealand was intense. I didn’t want to face a move from the school boarding house into a house we had bought earlier and only intended to be a rental. I wondered how the girls and I would cope on one income. I knew one thing – my daughters came first and they would stay at Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School because this would give them the stability they needed.
Choices to be made
After lots of thought we moved into our rental – a 70’s original, and a lot of energy was then put into its total renovation over the next few years. By 2010 both my girls had left home for University.
Suddenly I was alone. It was time to look for a new challenge.
And I thought, Time for a Change! I had always run classes from home and had stalls at various craft fairs. In the beginning of 2011 I was offered the beautiful old church in Boyanup to rent – this would be the perfect venue for the store I had always wanted to have – one day!
The tale of a castle!
One day I was asking my Mother about our family history and it turns out that my great, great grandfather Charles d’Oridant was French. He moved to Folkestone in England where he married Adeline Painter. My mother showed me part of my family geneaology that my uncle had put together some years ago and within it was a letter from about 1891 from Adeline to her son William who had by then travelled to live in New Zealand.
The letter had an address on it: Villa Madonna, Menton, France.
I was fascinated, and using Google and Trip Advisor I started to add to the information already provided by my Uncle. It turns out that Charles and Adeline had properties in both England and France – one being the former Summer Palace of the Prince of Monaco in Menton. Part of the property was the Chapel of Madonna and the adjacent convent which they subsequently turned into villas.
I felt an uncanny draw to French style and living, and so we took a trip to France and found out where my great great grandparents had lived, and found Villa Madonna too.
After that, I became transfixed with the idea of living in France one day.
A shop in a church
After a lot of research about starting up the shop in a church, I decided I would have major regrets if I didn’t go with this opportunity. Rustic French Living was born and we attract customers from far and wide.
Part of the French journey has taken me back to France several times and I purchased a three level village house in a medieval town called Chauvigny. I’m renovating the property and also buying stock for the shop in Boyanup.
Want to read more about Jo? Here’s a link to another article: French Country Style at Rustic French Living in Boyanup, Western Australia and here’s the story of how she found out about her ancestor’s castle: French Country Style.
At this stage, I’m thinking of selling the Boyanup shop in another year or so, to spend more time in France and New Zealand. I am setting up another business called The French Door, an online blog and store providing French experiences and market finds to those not able to travel to France themselves. The new property will be rented out as holiday accommodation and run as a B&B when I am there.
There is a shop on the bottom floor – who knows, maybe this is my future?!
Tips for women starting over, or starting a lifestyle business.
“Go with your gut instinct and don’t have any regrets. I could have decided not to open this shop but I was passionate about it. I think if you’re passionate about something and love something, then that will shine through in whatever you do,” says Jo McIntosh.
- Realise there is no such thing as a 7 hour day, let alone a ‘four hour week’ as Timothy Ferriss suggested in his book! He worked 80 hour weeks before he became successful!
- Good ideas and never-ending research do not make for great business. Producing makes a great business. So don’t fall into the analysis paralysis trap. Get moving, rather than trying to produce something that’s perfect.
- Solve people’s problems. This might be with the product you’re selling or the information products you’re creating, or the service you’re offering. People buy very often in order to have their problems solved, so find and understand the common problems you can solve.
- Lifestyle Businesses may mean that you’re a solo entrepreneur, so it’s important not to work in a vacuum. Find good mentors, build a good support network, and get out and meet people. Don’t sit at home working in your pyjamas all day long.
Footnote from Jo McIntosh:
I’ve been in Chauvigny for nearly two months now and at last the renovations are getting to the fun stage – decorating! We had decided to do everything properly instead of just a makeover so that meant new wiring, plumbing, floors, ceilings, walls, windows and doors!
We have nearly finished painting the third floor which now consists of two bedrooms, a hall and a bathroom. Then we’ll move on down to paint the second floor which is a hall, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen/lounge. The bottom floor houses the shop, laundry and a Summer sitting room which has French doors onto a small balcony. Only a month to go before I am back in Australia so lots to do!
If you’d like to contact Jo online – then visit Rustic French Living
Have you ever done anything completely different? Or do you know any inspiring women who would be a good fit for this series? Please do tell in the comments.
Until next time,
Keep up the good work. I’m really inspired by these women. I must share this post. 🙂
Thanks for sharing Lucy and glad you were inspired:)
What an inspiration Jo is. I love reading stories of success after facing adversity. I will look forward to reading more of these 🙂
Great Kathy, more coming up. And always interested in ideas for this series 🙂
That is only inspiring tale and shows what can be achieved if you have the will to make it happen. I have sent this post to a friend of mine whom I think would be a good candidate as a future post in the series.
Thank you Jan! That’s awesome. I hope your friend replies 🙂 Yes, Jo really did have the will to turn her life around and got on with it. I admire her hugely.
Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot
Gosh what a journey and inspiring story of adventure. It’s so true what Jo says about not expecting it to be quick (or believing the four hour week myth!) Lifestyle businesses have to start with a love of life, a place and a passion, not because you want to get rich quick.
Wishing Jo success and happiness in all her adventures!
Thank you for your kind words Annabel. Yes I agree there’s no such thing as an overnight success nor a successful business built on drudgery. I like how you added a love of life, place and passion – too true 🙂
Thank you to both Jos. An inspiring story beautifully told. I’ve joined Jo on FB to follow her renovation.
That’s awesome Jenny 🙂 Enjoy!
Life Images by Jill
I love Rustic French Living, it is time for me to visit again. It was so interesting to read Jo’s story and I applaud her for turning personal tragedy into a positive by reinventing her life, her way. Living and renovating a place in France and starting a new business there! amazing! I wish Jo all the very best for her new venture.
Thank you for the inspiring story. ps – I hope when she sells Rustic French Living that the new buyer will keep it just as it is!
Thanks Jill, and Yes, I hope the store stays exactly the same as it’s so beautiful.
What a great idea – blog posts about inspiring women and lifestyle businesses! Jo McIntosh you are one brave and determined lady! Congratulations on all you have achieved since your life took such a shocking and unexpected turn in a completely different direction to what you ever could have imagined. Best wishes for the decorating (fun) part of the renovations!
Thanks for popping by Catherine … yes Jo is a great inspiration, isn’t she! I think we’ll all be keen to follow her decorating journey too 🙂
What a great intro to your new series, Jo. Jo McIntosh is a very inspiring lady. I’m also in love with all things French (and own a house in France with another couple*) so I can see how building up Jo’s business was a passion. I’m heading over now to check out her French homewards and to read the story of how she discovered her ancestor’s house!
*We took the ‘easy’ option and bought a fully-renovated house – we’re nowhere near as brave as Jo and herd friends!
How wonderful Carolyn! No matter, just having a house in France is pretty marvellous! Hope you enjoy the rest of Jo’s story! Thanks for your time and reading today 🙂
I have been to your store down south and loved it, I have visited your FB and loved it even more. You are an inspiration and I am looking forward to following your journey. Thanks Jo for brining Jo to our attention, she is to be admired, you can never keep a strong woman down. xxx Rae
And aint that a fact Rae! Wise words indeed!
Wow … talk about following one’s passion … it’s a wonderful story. They should do a French series of “The Block” You would be on top of the leader board Jo!
She would, wouldn’t she Ingrid! Thanks for popping by to read today 🙂
Thanks Jo! I bought the house in Chauvigny in partnership with my good friends Cherry and Andy – it is so good to have their support in what has turned out to be a huge project! If people want to follow the renovation diary, they can go to
My French Door on Facebook. Thanks again!
Yes, the renovation diary is so interesting Jo … on your “My French Door” facebook page. Readers, there’s a link to this in the post, if you’d like to follow Jo’s renovation story.
Neva @ Retire for the Fun of it
Well now I’ve met and learned about two Jo’s. What a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” strong woman with a focus of the life she wants to pursue. I’m so very impressed with both of you.
Thank you Neva! I think the other Jo is far more impressive – as you say she is strong, and pulled herself up by her bootstraps to create the life she envisioned. I haven’t heard that phrase in such a long time btw!