What can happen in a year in Ipswich business
THIS time last year, mother and daughter duo Jo and Tyler-Jane Hart were at the beginning of a journey of the unknown, fuelled by passion, optimism and determination.
On New Year's Eve last year, clothing boutique Oh! Jo Jo opened on Brisbane St in Ipswich and after reflecting on the past 12 months in the Top of Town business, Ms Hart wouldn't have changed a thing.
New Year's Eve was when the stars aligned for Ms Hart and the perfect day to open her new business - she and her husband Kev celebrated their 23rd wedding anniversary.
It was a special anniversary that would come to share the date with the beginning of Oh! Jo Jo.
Much the same as this year, it was a blistering hot and dry summer's day in Ipswich when Jo and Tyler-Jane embarked on their journey but some things have changed in the past 12 months.
Ms Hart's boutique marked the beginning of what she believed was a new wave of retail in Ipswich, one which would see the Top of Town thrive.
It has, she says.
"It has been a really lovely year and the whole community has been behind us," she said.
"We have seen a lot of change in this part of Ipswich. In the Top of Town, almost every shop is full whereas a couple of years ago it really would have been quite empty.
"It's not just me getting behind this change. A lot of people have put in a lot of hard work and persevered when they saw the potential it had.
"Even shops that do end up empty are re-tenanted very quickly. People are starting to think in a new way about the area and they are realising this is a great time to jump."
Ms Hart said the business centre was evolving into a destination shopping and dining experience with complimentary businesses working alongside their neighbours.
"We are making it a destination," she said.
"Girls can get together and have a bit of a trip, go for a coffee or lunch and do some boutique shopping.
"For example, the shoe shop is next door and we work really well together. Customers can run between the two shops and play match-ups with what they have bought.
"As they say, build it and they will come."
Ms Hart said the Top of Town had only just started its revolution and there was more change to come next year.
"I think the Top of Town is just forging ahead, we're going to end up with the West End or Paddington feel up here. There's the cafe set and people coming from other places," she said.
"We have a lot of people in Ipswich who would prefer to shop locally so you provide for them and work towards other avenues.
"I'd like to see all the (space) utilised and have lots of little boutiques popping up all over the place."
Ms Hart said the area was moving too quickly to be impacted by negativity from those in the community who had labelled it a lost cause.
"It's easy to sit back in the distance and say it's not going to work," she said.
"They don't know that until they come and see for themselves, see what's really happening in the Top of Town and see that it's forging ahead."
Jo and Tyler-Jane will celebrate Oh! Jo Jo's first birthday in the new year at 193 Brisbane St, Ipswich.