Woman Crush Wednesday: Kylie Hearne

Everybody hates Wednesdays: It's the middle of the week and most of us can't be asked so I thought I'd sprinkle some sparkle and reveal my #womancrushwednesday is... my good friend Kylie Hearne, owner of Swansea based Stardust Boutique. I believe that as a multi award-winning business woman and entrepreneur, Kylie has some admirable qualities we could all learn a lot from. 

Kylie graduating from Swansea University
"Running your own business requires dedication, resilience and faith. Once those facets are factored into the equation, being your own boss isn’t always so desirable, even when it is achievable. It is natural to be idealistic, but many of us fall at the first hurdle, and failure hurts. Even more of us never try in the first place, which is far more tragic.  
There is one woman however, who defies the above-mentioned challenges in every sense: she’s the woman who actions her dreams; She takes an idea and runs with it, like a bull to a red flag. She’s a force to be reckoned with, and this is the story of her, her business and how she came to inspire me. Kylie, here’s to you.
Kylie studied Classical Civilisation at Swansea University, which by all accounts, is a world away from the glamorous career she enjoys with Stardust Boutique. Nonetheless, Kylie has always been naturally academic and enjoys history, politics and the Arts. She sometimes muses about pursuing a PhD – just because she can. 
Originally, she set out to establish herself in the UK prom market and with the help of the Princes Trust, she opened Stardust Boutique. I mean, it wasn’t an actual shop back then – Stardust Boutique existed in the home which she shared with her now-husband Ian and her beloved cat Harvey. From there, she sold prom dresses from an old rail she kept in a back bedroom.“That was the start of my business,” she recalls. “I had all these sequin gowns in all colours, and the beads would fall off.” 
It seems like decades have passed since we first became friends, but I still remember thinking that she was on to something good. Kylie was using social media as a sales platform way before any of her competitors, and people were buying. Buying into her, not just the dresses. Even then, she possessed an incredible ability to market herself and this where and how her business model deviates from the norm: When you buy from Stardust Boutique, you’re buying into the brand and the woman behind it. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that customers will return if they feel that they’re understood, valued, listened to and appreciated.
This is where I come in: I had watched the brand grow online and had 'attended' the opening of the first Stardust Boutique shop live on Youtube - I really admired her ambition and wanted to get to know her. We got talking, and we became close friends almost instantaneously. The synergies between us were astounding and our shared interests made our conversations compelling and for the most part, whacky. We would talk late into the night on Facebook and that’s when I realised just how hard she had fought for her business.
Kylie and some of her lovely gowns 
Kylie had nobody to rely on – only herself. Her ambition was clear: Succeed, be financially stable, and look after everybody else. It was obvious that she was mentally tough, and I liked that.
She’s an interesting one, Kylie. She can’t lie, so her ability to sell is vested firmly in her approach to the customer: “Well you could buy that but this one would look far better, it would make you look slimmer and it’s £200 cheaper”.

Her honesty gets her everywhere, because in today’s consumer driven society, we’re just not used to somebody being frank and open – especially when they have mouths to feed. But it works, it really works. For me, it’s her desire to see people content and happy rather than penniless and ripped off, which makes Kylie stand out.
Indeed, Kylie's personality has always been a winner for the parents of prom aged teens who find themselves being dragged around Swansea on a Saturday afternoon looking for 'the perfect dress'. I guess they find it refreshing. After all, what parent wants to spend hours (or days!) dress shopping only to be subjected to over-priced tat and overly keen sales assistants? You won’t get that with Kylie, because she says it as it is. My dad trusted her to the extent where he would ask his secretary to ring Stardust Boutique and ask her to pick me something and send it as a surprise for my birthday. That level of trust is what I’m talking about, and I know full well that my dad was NOT alone on his Kirstie birthday missions. 
It is impossible to know Kylie and not be inspired by her dedication to her work: She understands the world and she’s terribly empathetic to the situations we as humans often find ourselves in. She's real, she's been there, and she'll do anything to make sure her customers are never put in a position where their backs are against the walls. She works around the clock and hardly sleeps, puts herself out every day to ensure that customers receive only the best and this is why she’s an award-winning business woman. This is why she is adored by hundreds of loyal customers and this is why parents will happily part with their money – because their daughters are looked after.
She’s a facilitator of dreams and special memories, she’s a queen-maker and a tour-de-force: She has the ability to turn a nervous young woman into a confident, beautiful swan just by helping her choose the right dress and by teaching her how to walk and how to hold herself. When I left school, I borrowed a dress from a friend and got obliterated in a hotel room: I didn't have the pressure of trying to be anything other than what I was, but these days, there's a whole host of other pressures on school leavers. Now, prom is considered a right of passage, and Kylie can help a girl and those around her, see who she really is. 

Aside from her fairy godmother-esq gifts, she's also a cracking friend. Loyal, committed and down-to-earth. She's hysterically funny too, and has a particular flair for the dramatic which includes impersonating me asking for "more wine". I call her Welsh Rarebit and she calls me Hawking and we send ridiculous videos to each other in the middle of the night which make no sense to other people, but absolute sense to us: 'Kindred spirits', as Ky would say. 

I am so lucky to have her in my life as a friend and as somebody to look up to in business. She shows me that where there is a will, there is a way and that anything is possible. She also teaches me not to give up when the chips are down. She demonstrates that building an empire is achievable and absolutely and completely possible. The most important lesson she teaches is that ambition and kindness can coexist. Kindness is always a good starting point, and certainly one I'd like to start from, if I ever I get to a point where I can think about building my own empire. Finally, Kylie reminds me that personality is important: Some of us are not built to fit in, and I am totally fine with that."

And that, ladies and gents, is why Kylie Hearne is my #WomancrushWednesday
Thanks for reading!