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Leane in her new Belconnen store.

Women at Work: Leane Khalidi

Laura Peppas

Step inside jewellery boutique Devine Goddess and it’s hard to believe it all began six years ago with two modest foldout tables in the Gungahlin town centre.

Each weekend, outside of her full-time retail job, Leane Khalidi would dutifully set up collections of jewellery and accessories outside of her local grocery store.

“I eventually got to the point where I thought ‘do I want this as a career or as a hobby?’” says Leane.

“So I quit my full time job, and thought I’d see if the hard work paid off.”

It did. Six months later the 32-year-old opened her first Devine Goddess store in Canberra Centre, eventually opening another in Woden and last month, Belconnen. Stocking unique pieces from Australia and around the world, the boutique now has around eight employees with hopes to one day expand interstate.

“I honestly never knew how well it would go when I opened that first store in the city, but it’s had a great response from day one,” Leane says.

“I think the fact that I’m Canberran bred and born, rather than an overseas chain, really resonates with people.”

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Leane inside her new Belconnen store.

Leane says she caught the entrepreneurial bug from her parents, who have owned a business since she can remember.

“They are hard-workers, so it definitely stemmed from that,” she says.

“I’m definitely what you’d call a workaholic – I think if you own a business and you don’t work hard, it’s not for you.”

After finishing school Leane studied fashion design at CIT, going on to manage stores for Alannah Hill and later, Napoleon.

“I was actually asked to manage stores for Napoleon in the US, so I spent three years doing that in San Francisco,” she says.

“While it was an amazing experience, I eventually got to the point where I thought if I was going to kill myself working, I’d rather be doing it for myself.”

Leane thought her hometown would be the perfect place to start.

“I love Canberra, I think it’s the best place to live in the world and I wanted to bring something really unique to the table,” she says.

“We have become a go-to for special occasions, for brides, or for people attending a ball or function. People come in and we help style their outfit.”

Leane says she likes to describe Devine Goddess as a “happiness clinic.”

“We’re very much a place people go for a stress-reliever, perhaps they’ve had a bad day at work and they’ll try something on and you can just see their mood lift,” she says.

“I think the only way you can survive is basic customer service, it’s all about the customer, and to give an experience. Customers want attention, they want help, and if you leave an impression they’ll come back.”

Leane, who married in January, says she eventually wants to get to the point where she has a day off.

“I think in the whole of the last six years, the only time I got to turn off my phone was my honeymoon,” she says.

“Eventually I want to pull back a bit…but then again I think it’s in my nature to just keep going.”

Find out more about Devine Goddess at devinegoddess.com.au 

Photos by Laura Peppas

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Laura Peppas

Laura Peppas is HerCanberra's senior journalist and communications manager and is the Editor of Unveiled, HerCanberra's wedding magazine. She is enjoying uncovering all that Canberra has to offer, meeting some intriguing locals and working with a pretty awesome bunch of women. Laura has lived in Canberra for most of her life and when she's not writing fervently she enjoys pursuing her passion for travel, reading, online shopping and chai tea. More about the Author

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