Overcoming adversity and running a successful business
EACH year, strong and inspirational woman are celebrated on March 8 for International Women’s Day.
When thinking of a brave woman with a great sense of humour even through tragic times, Roma can look no further than celebrating Lea Penrose, of Country Buds Fashion and Accessories.
The clothing store owner – who would prefer to go under the radar – is a woman worth celebrating this weekend.
Earlier this year, she and husband Calvin lost their Wallumbilla home to a fire that destroyed majority of the house.
But that didn’t stop Mrs Penrose from turning up to her shop every day and connecting with her customers like she usually would.
“I have tried to not let it worry me as there is much worse things out there,” she said.
“I am just pleased that Calvin and I are OK, that was my only concern.”
Unfortunately Mrs Penrose is no stranger to tragedy.
“The fire felt like no tragedy at all in comparison to previous events in my life,” she said.
The couple lost their daughter, Ashley, to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome at the age of five months.
“That was the worst thing to happen to Calvin and I and it has changed us forever,” she said.
“I have to put on a front and go out in public.”
Going back and forth between Wallumbilla and Roma for many years, Mrs Penrose counts herself lucky that old acquaintances have turned into strong friendships since spending every day at the shop.
She took over the clothing store close to nine years ago as she always wanted to be involved in fashion. She previously worked alongside Calvin in their glass business.
“It was a change of direction, something I did for me after being in a male dominated industry for so long,” she said.
While trying to recover anything of value from the fire ruins, finding a temporary home and working, she said the community and her customers had been instrumental in lending a hand.
“So many people have been there for us, giving me the clothes of their back – something I don’t really need but I appreciate,” Mrs Penrose joked.
“I am very grateful to have the local clientele who are so loyal to me. I have made so many friendships through the store.”
This year’s International Women’s Day campaign theme is #EachforEqual, meaning we are all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.
Mrs Penrose said her strength came from Ashley.
“I just believe every day you have to be happy and kind,” she said.
“That’s what my daughter did for me – she made me a kinder person. You have to be kind to everyone because you don’t know what people are going through.”