Taking care of business

Andrew Mathieson
YOUNG Amelia Wilson quickly worked out how to make a buck.
At just 27, she has owned Geelong’s Haymarket Hotel for the past four years and now has another at Hamilton.
Amelia and partner Tom Richter plan to expand their boutique chain throughout regional Victoria.
But there was a time a cheeky 10yearold girl used to fetch golf balls out of a lake and sell them back to the golfers who lost them.
Amelia and younger brother Andrew used to watch misshit drives from over the fence of their Gold Coast home.
They would suit up in their wetsuits before diving into the drink at the local course.
“We thought it was pretty cool because we could sell them back because I knew they needed them,” Ameila grins.
“We were pretty fortunate and it turned out to be a running joke with the players.
“I remember it was enough (money) to get an endless supply of mixed lollies.”
No obstacle has managed to block Amelia’s successful business career so far, although she admits to struggling in Year 10 maths soon after moving back to Geelong.
Amelia finished her schooling at Sacred Heart College and then graduated from Swinburne University with an arts degree.
“I always knew there’d be a calculator there for me and, if there wasn’t, there’d always be someone there to do the sums,” Amelia says.
“I never thought that just because I didn’t study business or was crap at maths that I couldn’t succeed.”
Amelia later earned an opportunity to work at London Fashion Week for a few years when she met Tom, an Australian magazine publisher.
Inspired by Europe’s best small hotels, the pair returned home to take a punt on the historical Haymarket site.
Built in 1855, the building was extensively renovated from early 2001 and was relaunched in late 2003.
The daring move has paid off.
The Haymarket has since won two regional awards for best marketable business and best accommodation in 2005.
“Being slightly naive also worked in my favour,” Amelia admits.
“I look back at things and think that if I knew how risky that was I might not have gone into it.
“But it’s almost like a rush now. The more risk that I take, I find it quite addictive.
“I then wonder how far I can push it next time.”
One room at the Haymarket has been renovated “four or five times at least”, Amelia laughs.
“And it’s still not right,” Tom adds from a corner.
Amelia looks far and wide for inspiration, always seeking out people in the know.
She pays special credit to a business development book, You Go, Girlfriend, by Maureen Frank.
“I contacted the author and said thanks for the inspiration,” Amelia says.
“It was a real positive for me and I needed that push.”
The author was so impressed she nominated Amelia for 2006 Telstra businesswoman of the year awards.
The rigorous round of interviews, networking and a final submission led Amelia’s shortlisting and the award’s final.
“I realised I really do know a lot about accommodation,” she laughs, “and the industry.”
Amelia is now looking forward to Sophie Monk’s forthcoming nuptials and serving as bridesmaid.
The pair has remained best friends for the best part of two decades and Amelia is still enjoying the ride.
“We’re both blonde and that’s probably about as similar as it gets with our success,” she laughs.
“I wear a uniform and she wears a bra and knickers.”