Kerri-Ann Hooper has worked in the real estate, building and customer service industry for almost 30 years.
A few years ago Kerri-Ann felt the pull to launch her own business and so, in partnership with her sister Natalie Doolan, she launched Carnelian Projects.
They offer house and land packages to first homeowners, investors and those building their second or fifth home. Carnelian Projects guides clients through the whole building process from start to finish and also offers property management.
- Tell us about the journey that led you to start your own business.
I think it is in the genes to be my own boss. We don’t like being told what to do. I come from a long line of people who don’t like that. I grew up with my parents having their own business, they had various businesses – real estate, building, a tile business – so I have always worked with them and seen how they ran their own business and then they sort of went and did their own thing.
Then I met my husband in the bank and we got transferred up to Coffs Harbour so I had to go and find myself a job up there. So I sort of went to the bank and had a couple of customer service jobs in between having the kids and then I got to the nearly big 40 and thought what am I going to do with my life. My parents didn’t have their businesses, I had to do something, I couldn’t handle working for anyone else so I talked to my sister and she was thinking of coming back to Newcastle and so we wanted to know what to do. Because my background is real estate, customer service, building and I love building myself, and so that is when we decided we would put together a business – Carnelian Projects. Carnelian is actually a gemstone which means prosperity and harmonious family relationships and that was how it was born. Basically I needed to do something and approaching 40 I decided it was now or never.
- What was your original mission for your business? And has it changed?
I myself have built four times and I love building. I love the smell of paint, I love the whole thing of building, so it was just to help people through the building process, to guide them, take their hand, saying it is not going to be stressful, that in the end you get a beautiful product. So that was the thing, helping people, making building as stress free as possible.
As far as it changing, maybe our actual market has changed, we are not only solely focusing on investors and first home owners, we are now focusing on people doing their third, fourth home, doing a knockdown/rebuild, but the mission is always there, just to help people and guide them through that building process.
- Did you always know you want to be an entrepreneur?
Yes, I am like a caged animal if someone tells me what to do. Even my sister has problems with that with me, although originally when I was 16 and working in my parent’s business and basically had free reign, so when we moved away and we had the kids and I had to have customer service roles I just couldn’t handle anyone telling me what to do.
I am very strong willed, like I said I come from a very long line of people that don’t like being told what to do so yes it was always in the genes. I just have to work for myself, there is no other option, there is no plan B, this is it, I have to work for myself.
- What do you attribute your success to?
A lot of hard work. Persistence is the key. Just working non-stop around the kids. Having kids just adds a whole other level to having your own business. You can be on the computer in the car when the kids are at dancing, singing lessons, or taking them to dentist appointments, it is just a constant thing and I think just like Dory says in Finding Nemo, “just keep on swimming”. You just keep on going doing everything every day. Busy creates busyness I feel and just keep on working, keep on striving for that goal. Just do it.
- What local entrepreneur do you find inspiring?
I love Kylie from Mama P who makes beautiful, gorgeous sugar free treats. I have only met her once but she is so lovely. She is a mum and she has taken her business from just a small family-run business in her home to commercial kitchens and it is all around Newcastle, Central Coast, even in Sydney now her products, and I just love her vision and her passion.