Shelley is one of those people you meet and fall in love with instantly – she is warm and funny and intelligent (and she’s beautiful to boot).
I met Shelley and her gorgeous husband Stephan not long after they had moved their vintage poster business Galerie Montmartre into their own premises in Fitzroy. Their youngest son was just a baby and it was a challenging time for them in some ways – but one that they have embraced wholeheartedly. They are a fantastic team and inspiring in every way.
Shelley very kindly agreed to be interviewed for the Total Balance blog.
Photo: LizzyC Photography
What do you love most about having your own business?
I love the freedom to explore concepts and ideas. I love that if something isn’t quite working, it’s up to me to think about ways to get it right. I particularly love that I can go in directions that interest me, which often leads to meeting likeminded, fabulous, creative people. I love the instant feedback having your own business gives you – both positive and not so positive. I love seeing a dream become a reality.
What would you do differently if you had your time over?
Not much at all, to be honest. Although, I’m not sure opening a retail space in the same year as having my second child was particularly wise…..expanding a business and a family all at once is challenging. I feel like my sanity is just returning!
What are you most proud of professionally?
I am really proud that our business is 100% ours, we built something from nothing but passion and an idea. We behave with integrity which seems to be spreading via word of mouth to customers, creatives and overseas colleagues. I am also very proud that we have made our product accessible to anyone who would like to own one, via the diversity of our images and the use of payment plans.
Photo: LizzyC Photography
Who inspires you?
Oh my goodness….how long do you have?! I am constantly inspired. At the moment I am particularly in awe of ‘mature’ women who continue working in creative pursuits, not allowing age or gender to stop them; Marie-France Cohen, former creator/owner of Bonpoint and now creator/owner of Parisian store Merci; Carine Roitfeld, French Vogue Editor; U.S Vogue creative director Grace Coddington; photographer Annie Leibowitz; designers Diane Von Furstenberg and Betsey Johnson; actor Helen Mirren and closer to home; presenter/ journalist Maggie Tabberer; chef/author Stephanie Alexander and always, always French born, Melbourne artist Mirka Mora.
What are you looking forward to?
Seeing what Stephan unearths on his next buying trip; painting our floorboards at home glossy white; a Queensland holiday before the year’s end; a cashflow that takes care of itself (is there such a thing?!); another full day a week at work; my little boys becoming beautiful citizens; the name Galerie Montmartre being on everyone’s lips!
How did coaching help you?
My business partner also happens to be my husband, so coaching really helped us take the personal out of the professional. Our business, on many levels, is an extension of ourselves – we started out as vintage poster collectors – so naturally the personality traits (and quirks….his, not mine, of course!!!!) come out in many ways in the business world. Seeing Kate was a way of sorting out the personal stuff from the business stuff; helped me define what was important to me and actually hear what was important to Stephan.We had a tiny baby and a toddler and a retail space in it’s infancy when we met Kate so it was an extremely stressful time, having her calm in the midst of the busy-life storm was exactly what we needed. We were vulnerable, tired and time-poor, so having someone like Kate help direct us to prioritise and take little steps towards our goals was wonderful.
Photo: LizzyC Photography
What’s your personal philosophy on how to live life well?
I love people, but I honestly think that life is too short to be spent with people that don’t feed your spirit. If I come away from being with someone feeling ‘less than’, then chances are I’m not going to hang around that person too often; if at all (and chances are, they’ve left the encounter feeling the same anyway!).As a recovering people-pleaser, this personal philosophy is only about 12 years old, so far it is holding me in good stead though.
Also, good food and good people are a perfect combination. Dance like no-one’s watching is a pretty good thing to do too. Taking time out for myself is absolutely vital and still something I am learning. I am becoming more spontaneous the older I get; I love to give gifts for no reason and tell people how I feel about them whenever I think it – I’ll send a text, write a note or make a call. I like to think I live and let live……I love that little saying!
We would be delighted for you to reproduce our articles as long as they remain intact and contain the author’s details as follows: ‘Kate James is a coach, speaker and writer. She works with people who want to live confident, creative lives. Kate can be contacted at www.totalbalance.com.au.’