Anne-Marie Wade, the CEO of Ally Fashion, has always been fiercely driven and decidedly independent.
So it was probably no surprise to those that loved her when she announced she was moving to London in her mid-twenties on a two-year working visa.
It was there that she fell in love, properly, with the magic of retail.
She'd known since she was about 19 that she wanted to be a visual merchandiser. She'd read about the vocation in the newspaper and felt drawn to it.
It was the perfect mix of creativity and organisation: her two biggest loves. So she'd ditched what she was doing, hospitality management, and changed gears.
She spent five years working in fashion manufacturing companies before taking the leap carved out by thousands of young Australians before her. Over in London, she landed a job at one of the golden doors on oxford street, the department store Debenhams in her dream role.
"I worked as a visual merchandiser in their Oxford Street store which was an amazing experience. I was promoted to their window merchandising team and I would have to say my time overseas really instilled in me the magic of fashion and the magic of retail," Anne-Marie told Mamamia.
Growing up in a small town in the Northern Territory and later in the Wollongong/Sydney areas of NSW, Anne-Marie's home was often filled with the sounds of a sewing machine. Her mum used to make a lot of her clothes, and Anne-Marie has always seen fashion as self-expression and a way to bring colour to the world.
But the colour she witnessed, and in turn helped create, in the windows of Debenhams and in retail stores across Europe, turned fashion into theatre in a way Anne-Marie just hadn't seen in Australia. So when she returned Down Under, and was offered a job at Aussie fashion retailer Ally at the age of 26 she jumped at it, determined to share what she'd learnt.