Celebrating 10 years of Katie B

Published on 07 August 2020

Katie B women's clothing store

Starting a women’s clothing business straight out of uni was a challenge that Katie Benedict  has really excelled at and is now celebrating 10 years of Katie B.

Raised by her Mum on a beef cattle property north of Gympie Katie’s real passion in life is horses and cattle; life, education and business have distanced her a little from these things however she hopes to one day balance the scales and have more time for the things that really set her heart on fire!

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT KATIE B….

Katie B is a women’s clothing store located at 128 William Street, Rockhampton. In store you will find a unique mix of easy to wear, affordable, boutique fashion clothing for women of all ages, as well as all of the latest western fashion from brands like Cowgirl Tuff, Kimes Ranch and Rock & Roll Cowgirl. The shop is a long skinny shop and the front half is all boutique fashion while the back half is western fashion. The shopfront is complemented by our online store - www.katieb.com.au - and we also take our pop up shop to a number of events across Australia each year.

WHAT WAS THE MOTIVATOR TO START KATIE B?

I went to America riding horses when I was 16 and 17. The events I attended in America had big trade shows where businesses would come and do pop up shops so the spectators and contestants could shop. I still remember the vibe and energy of those trade show buildings so well! I loved it! There was also so many brands and products I saw while I was in America that we didn’t have in Australia. It was these trips that inspired me to start Katie B.

WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOUR STARTED KATIE B?

I started Katie B in 2010, right after I finished university. I studied a Bachelor of Mass Communication majoring in Journalism and worked as a journalist for a number of years in the fledgling stages of the business.

WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED IN YOUR 10 YEARS?

I started the business with nothing, I was a 22 year old who was fresh out of uni and had a maxed out credit card which I had used to purchase text books, so in the beginning I worked fulltime at a newspaper during the day, worked at a bar a few nights a week and worked on the business every chance I got. The business was my passion. Although the transition happened quite a while ago now, the absolute biggest challenge I’ve faced in the past 10 years was turning Katie B into my fulltime job and sole income. Some very experienced business people told me that if I believed in my business and it was working, to take the leap and that would be when I would really see growth, they were right but it is a big step to take and I still remember that point of being on the precipice.

YOU ORIGINALLY STARTED OUT ONLINE, WHAT MADE YOU OPEN A SHOP FRONT?

The business was inspired by those retailers I saw at the trade shows I visited in America, they were predominantly people who worked from home, travelled to events to do pop up shops and had an online presence. My original business structure was this, however as the business grew the workload got too big for me to manage on my own, even when I worked day and night on the business. I did it on my own for as long as I could but the time came that I simply needed more hands on deck. I felt if I was going to employ staff it would make the most sense to have them working from a shop front. That way the online business could be serviced and people could also visit us in store and shop.

WHAT’S THE NUMBER ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN?

I would refer back to my answer to my biggest challenge. The best advice I have been given was from those experienced business people who told me that if my business was working it was time to make it my sole focus.

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO OTHER YOUNG PEOPLE LOOKING TO BREAK INTO BUSINESS?

Business is super risky, there is no doubt about that. There is no guarantee; don’t over commit. Test the water and gauge the response. Then build on the things that work. Anything worth having is worth the wait, so why rush and increase the risk of failure. In my opinion, slow, well thought out financial decisions are the absolute foundation of any successful business. 

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN THE NEXT 5 YEARS?

Honestly my biggest goal would be more life related than business related. I would like to see myself achieve a better work life balance in the next five years.

WHAT IS YOUR DREAM?

I dream of horses, I love my business and am very passionate about it but my real passion in life is horses. I used to campdraft and barrel race but stopped campdrafting when I went to uni and no longer had cattle work to do to keep my horses trained and tuned. Fifteen years on I’m still barrel racing but in the past few years I have taken a bit more of an interest in breeding sprint bred quarter horses. Sprint bred quarter horses used to race on registered tracks, just like Thoroughbreds however these days they are popular for barrel racing because of their speed and also feature strongly in sprint races like the one that was held at Banana last September and also at many events in North Queensland.  I don’t have a specific dream relating to goals with horses, it’s just how I love to spend my time. 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

I am a people person. People inspire me. I am most inspired by people who have not only worked hard for their success but are also self-made. The ones who have started with an idea and grown it in to something great through their own hard work.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO MOVE TO THE REGION?

I had been looking for a shop front location for Katie B for a long time. Rockhampton turned out to be the answer to all of my searching. It is a regional centre for all of the rural towns in Central Queensland, located on a major North/South route and is also stand-alone a strong town in its own right. Rockhampton really ticked all the boxes for me.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT LIVING IN THE ROCKHAMPTON REGION?

The thing I like most about living in the Rockhampton region is being able to enjoy the beach while also very much living the regional Queensland life. 

HOW HAS LIFE CHANGED SINCE MOVING?

No longer working from home has been the biggest change for me. It means I work less through the week because I go home and leave work at work which is great but it also means I now work Saturday’s which is something I have never done unless I was at a tradeshow.

WHAT’S THE NUMBER ONE PIECE OF ADVICE FOR PEOPLE MOVING TO THE REGION?

Be excited! There is so much to do in Central Queensland. The beach, country races, exploring the laneways of Rockhampton, dining out. There is a lot of things I love about the region!