When Tracey Harty moved to Geelong seeking a sea change, she spotted the perfect chance to rejuvenate her love of home decor.
“A little shop came up in a lovely area so I thought I’d take the plunge,” the 51-year-old says.
In December she opened her new Pakington Street store Wild Iris to the public following months of planning.
Tracey moved from Camperdown to Armstrong Creek with her husband in April to be closer to their sons, who study in Geelong.
“The older one’s almost finished uni and the younger one started this year.”
The move was also convenient for her husband, who works as a town planner and environment scientist in Melbourne.
Previously, he would stay overnight in the city. Now he commutes from Geelong.
“We needed to be closer to Melbourne without moving to Melbourne itself,” Tracey says.
Tracey fell in love with home decor through magazines, the internet and TV shows before opening her first store in 2000.
“I’ve always had an interest in all those lovely things you can do in your home,” she says.
The then aged care worker made her first foray into retail in her home town of Camperdown.
“I wanted to be my own boss – you haven’t got someone telling you what you can and can’t do,” she says.
“I probably had it in my blood – as a younger girl in East Gippsland I worked in my father’s business.”
It was a steep learning curve for the mother of two, whose boys were in day care and primary school.
“It was a challenge juggling it all but it wasn’t too bad doing it in a country town,” she says.
Tracey sold the business in 2006 to return to aged care, but she never lost her passion for retail.
After moving to Geelong, Tracey spent months planning her new store and designing her brand.
“There’s a lot more work behind the scenes than people realise I think,” she says.
“My sons both helped where they could between uni and their jobs.”
She spent much of her time researching products and checking out similar outlets in Newtown.
“I spent a lot of time sourcing out stock with a difference to other stores,” she says.
“It’s silly to have what they have.”
Wild Iris stocks lighting, jewellery, ladies’ tops, handbags, homeware and more.
“It’s a bit of everything really,” she says.
“You can come in and buy a gift for friends, a baby, a bloke or yourself.”
Tracey loves working in Pakington Street.
“There’s plenty of choice and it actually reminds me of an English village,” she says.
“I have found the people here to be extremely friendly and I’ve heard a lot of positive comments about the point of difference and affordability.
“Geelong is just like a big country town. We go to Melbourne quite a lot, too, for concerts and football.”

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