I didn’t mean to create Hazel, she just kinda happened. And I like her. She’s nice, she’s patient. She likes positive affirmations and motivational sayings, and she doesn’t swear as much as me. She’s very helpful, and she’s way better at customer service than I could ever be. I built Hazel’s House because I was sick of seeing Australian brands in NZ for three times the price that Australian’s pay. It’s taken almost a year to convince some brands to supply Hazel’s House, and now I think we’re onto a pretty good thing.
It wasn’t always this way though, and in fact I led a whole different life before Hazel came along…
Once upon a time, there was a Kiwi girl, living on the Gold Coast. She lived and loved and danced like no one was watching, worked because she really needed the money, and co-hosted impromptu pool parties every Sunday with her sister. She lived in a water front house, and drank lots of cocktails, and drove a fancy car, and rode an even fancier bike.
The girl moved back to New Zealand for her dream job, with a nightmare boss (you can catch up on that part of the story here) and then this happened, making 2011 the worst year ever. Determined that 2012 would make up for 2011, she saved all her pennies, and she went on the trip of a lifetime (which you’re welcome to read about here).
Right on cue, shortly after returning from her trip of a lifetime, with lots of shoes, a killer tan and 7kg of additional body fat, a blast from the past turned up. Surely it was fate, it was kismet, and kharma and serendipity and it must have been meant to be. Vomit.
The blast from the past was good at saying the right things, but doing the wrong things, and he said the magic words that she had been waiting so long to hear: “I’ll pay for you to set up your online clothing store. I believe in you. I’ll back you”.
The girl was so excited. She dusted off her archaic laptop and she dug out the notebook that she’d scribbled in years before, and she started drafting business plans and contacting brands and placing indent orders (four months in advance) and preparing cashflow forecasts. The blast from the past was very supportive, and interested and helpful, and generous…until the stock started to arrive. And then the blast from the past fell off the face of the planet. Presumably with an air hostess named Sheena. True story…
So there we were, me and Hazel, which might as well have just been me, because Hazel is useless in those situations! I’m all “what the fark are we going to do now?” and Hazel’s all “what will be, will be, let’s put it out there to the universe, and the answer will find its way back”. And I’m like “the universe sure as shit isn’t going to shift that stock without a website, and it definitely ain’t gon’ pay dem bills”, but Hazel’s still all “it will work out, don’t worry”.
Well worry I did. In fact, I still worry. I have tried every sleep aid on the market, and I still think that nothing works as well as copious quantities of wine. I am partial to a bit of cheese with my wine though, and that just adds to the weirdness of the dreams – last night I was road tripping through South Africa with Miranda Kerr, and trying to text my mum to tell her that I wouldn’t be home for dinner, but my phone wasn’t on roaming, and I was too scared to ask Randie for her phone, because I hardly know the girl, although it was awfully nice of her to invite me to share her Chrysler 300C stretch limo on a joy ride to Johannesburg.
So back to me and Hazel, Hazel and me, I was up Shit Creek without a paddle or a parasol, thanks to Hazel. Her and I spent our summer holiday drinking more than the recommended daily intake of cider and wine, and listening to Rudimental’s “Not Giving In” on repeat. We spent New Years Eve together, me and Hazel, in my second bedroom, on the laptop, watching MTV, which didn’t even have a countdown, and we finally launched a website.
So now Hazel has an online store, that I slog my guts out running for her, and she gets all the glory. I work in an office, at my real job, three days a week, and Hazel stays home and meditates or reads self help books or visits a Reiki specialist, or whatever else she does that keeps her all calm and zen-like while I’m a borderline alcoholic on the verge of a mental breakdown.
Lately Hazel has received so many impolite (to put it mildly) emails, that my frousin (a friend who is also a cousin) said to me “maybe people don’t realise that Hazel’s House is just you, and that you go to work and attempt to have a life, all while running the store”, and so it occurred to me that I should share five fun facts about myself, so people get a real behind the scenes look at the glamorous industry that is online retail.
Fact one: I live with my parents
I am almost 31 and I live with my parents. Two of them, a mum and a dad. They affectionately refer to me as their “flatmate” because I’m not sure who’s more embarrassed: me, because despite moving out of home five times, I am “that person” who is living with my parents well past the age that is socially acceptable, or; them, because no parent likes to admit that they have failed to instill any sort of life skills in their child resulting in her being a financial retard when all of her peers are buying houses and having children.
Fact two: I drive a 1991 Mazda Familia
To be fair, it is matte black, which is pretty on trend these days, but that’s because it’s been 23 years since the poor thing had a paint job. It was my sister’s first car when she was 17 – acceptable. It’s my fourth car at 31 – not acceptable. I know that some people must be imagining that the Managing Director (self appointed) of an online store, would drive a BMW X5, maybe even a Mazda CX7 if she didn’t want to draw attention to her abundant wealth, but no, I drive a 1991 Mazda Familia, and I don’t even own it.
Fact three: Hazel gets hate mail
I’m not talking: “I’m going to find out where you live and put a bomb under your 1991 Mazda Familia (is it the matte black one? Because there are three in your driveway, and I’ve seen you drive them all in the last fortnight).”
I’m talking: “If you don’t refund me the $29 that I paid for these pants with an RRP of $149, that cost you at least $75, then I will tell all my friends not to buy from you ever again!!!! If you were a real store, like Glassons, you would refund my money!!!! Besides, the stitching is coming undone, because I’m a size 10, but I ordered a size 6 because they were the last pair!!!! I know my rights!!!!”
All I can say is thank goodness for Hazel’s meditation and self help and Reiki and sheesha, because she’s all: “Thanks for your email, I’m sorry to hear that the pants are not a suitable fit. According to the Hazel’s House Returns Policy, I am unable to accept items that were purchased on sale, but please return them to the address below and I will issue you with a credit as soon as possible, because I am a people pleaser.”
When I’d be like: “Are you kidding me?!?! You do this every time you order from me. In fact, I think you’ve just copied and pasted the last email that you sent me when you bought something the wrong size out of the Bargain Bin. And don’t think that I’ve forgotten about that time that you bought a dress and wore it, washed it, and returned it without the tags, missing the belt, and smelling like Persil.”
Fact four: I rely on suppliers to tell me when things are going to arrive
For indent orders, I am given a two month period in which the styles should drop. I try and manage Hazel’s cash flow a little better, by “pre-selling” items, so that I can attempt to pay my bills, but sometimes it bites me in the ass. There are inevitable delays in production, that I’m not privy to, so when my supplier tells me, “they’ll be here in two weeks” and I tell Hazel’s BFF’s that “they’ll be here in three weeks” to give me a one week contingency, I think I’ve covered my bases. There have been times when two weeks has become ten weeks, and Hazel is getting impolite emails from customers (and rightly so), but she’s too darn nice to send similar emails to the suppliers who are shafting her in the first place.
Fact five: Facebook fails me daily
Once upon a time, you set up a Facebook page for your business, people “liked” it, and then your “likers” saw your pictures, updates and info. That is no longer the case. If I post a pic of some sweet pants, or if Hazel posts a pic of some inspirational quote, about 10% of the Hazel’s House “likers”, see the post. If I want more “likers” to see it, I have to pay Facebook to show it to them. If I want to find more “likers”, I can pay Facebook to advertise Hazel’s page, so I get some more “likers”, but then I have to pay for them to see the post, even though I already paid for them to see the page. Facebook is berry berry sneaky.
So if you “like” Hazel’s page, but you don’t “like” Hazel’s post, chances are, you’re missing out on all the fun things that she has to say, and all the neat pics I post. To make sure that you see Hazel’s posts on Facebook, you’ll need to give her a few likes, or otherwise, log in to Facebook on a computer, and add Hazel’s House to your interest list (hover over the “Liked” button and click “Add to Interest Lists”).
At the end of the day, like Bryan Adams, you know it’s true, everything I do, oh, I do it for you, BFF’s. Believe me, my life would be a lot simpler, and I would have much less credit card debt if I just went shopping in Australia every three months like I used to. So please know that Hazel’s House was built with the best of intentions. It’s a small business, but it’s still a “real store”, and like a real store, Hazel even has a $20 clearance rack. Happy shopping BFF’s.