When Janet Lane succeeded her father as manager of Kendells Shoes in 1980, she was one of the few female business owner/operators in Griffith.
“There were a lot of husband and wife teams, but generally the husband did most of the store management. Not many women were running the show by themselves,” she said.
Now – in an era when most Banna Avenue stores are run by women – Janet’s enterprise remains strong.
Kendells Shoes has been in operation since 1937. Her father, Colin Longobardi, took over in 1947, and Janet started working in the store as a teenager in 1972 (see historical photos in the online gallery).
The Area News caught up with Janet on International Women’s Day to ask her about her journey and hear her advice for girls wanting to run their own enterprises. Her responses are summarised below.
Did you have any business experience when you started running the store?
No none at all. I took over from my father, who was unwell, so I learned by the seat of my pants. I mostly just taught myself.
The store was a lot smaller back then, there were no displays and there wasn’t the variety of colours and styles we have now.
Have you faced any particular challenges as a women?
No not really. In the early days, I felt people seemed to question me more because I was a woman. I felt men were allowed to be more strict, whereas women were expected to be more understanding.
But I feel as though now there’s equality in business.
How has the business environment changes since the early 1980s?
I think the growth of online shopping has been a real challenge. It’s been really noticeable over the past five years, and it’s hurt a lot of local stores.
So we really need to try and make the in store experience a memorable one.
We put a lot of emphasis on product knowledge.
I think with shoes though, people like to be able to feel them and try them on. Sizing can be completely different in different brands.
What advice would you have from a girl leaving school wanting to start her own business?
Don’t try and be everything to all people.
You need to find your niche and keep within the limits of your niche.
And make sure you love what you do.
If you wake up in the morning and dread coming to work, you’re in the wrong business.
I still love coming to work and am grateful to the Griffith community for their continued support.