Since FOCUS launched on the Coffs Coast almost 12 months ago, we have met a variety of interesting people disguised as your Average Joe.
We have profiled and interviewed many of these people in our publication and rest assured – there are many more to come. We absolutely love bringing you the stories of these ‘interesting people’, and we have recently discovered a local writer who shares the same passion as FOCUS.
Stephanie Hunt is the creator of a blog-style website called The Most Interesting Person I Know, a place where she interviews and profiles interesting people she has met on the Coffs Coast.
“Basically, I started with four people that I found interesting, either because I met them or because their jobs seemed interesting,” Stephanie explains. “I interviewed them, wrote profiles and then asked them to name the most interesting person they know on the Coffs Coast … and started the whole process again with the person nominated.”
So far Stephanie has written profiles on the likes of Deputy Mayor Denise Knight, Alison Page from the ABC’s The New Inventors, and Kerry Hines, who is a local Councillor and Principal of UnReal Estate.
But while Stephanie spends her days interviewing and writing about other interesting people in our area, she also has quite a remarkable story herself.
Originally from Canada, Stephanie moved to Australia in 1990. She was transferred down under for her job as marketing manager for Alberto Culver, a major manufacturer of personal care products such as shampoo. Stephanie says she fell in love with Australia, but hated her job. “It’s amazing how the same job in two different countries can be so different!” After four years in this role and gaining permanent residency in Australia, Stephanie resigned and decided to embark on new adventures.
“I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to do something different”.
After taking some time off to travel, Stephanie explored several business ventures. Eventually she ended up launching her own marketing business.
“When I started the business, I was in a share house in Sydney with three other people, and I worked in an office that was about the size of a dog kennel!”
The business slowly gained momentum, but when Stephanie was able to land Coles Supermarkets as a client, it really started to blossom. As the workload increased, Stephanie closed her Sydney office and moved all operations to Melbourne, to better cater for her biggest client in Coles. The marketing business was quite successful, employing around 20 people by the time it ceased operations about 12 years later.
“Eventually I came to a place where I thought I’d had enough of that line of work,” Stephanie explained. So as Coles made a lot of changes that would eventually impact upon her own business, Stephanie decided to use that as an excuse to close the business and start yet another adventure. “I cashed in my chips and walked away, and it was the best decision I ever made.”
In much the same way as she travelled to Africa after resigning from Alberto Culver, upon closing her marketing business Stephanie jumped in the car and went travelling around Australia.
“It seems to be my go-to position when I don’t quite know what I want to do, because travelling for me takes off the blinkers. You stop thinking about the things you have to have, and you start thinking about what’s actually important to you. I find invariably when I’ve done that, I’ve come back and made decisions that have been right and have moved me in new directions.”
So Stephanie found herself writing. While she was touring around, she wrote a travel blog with a hundred subscribers, mostly friends and family. “I can’t tell you how many times people said that I’d missed my calling. And I thought, “You know what? I’m still young. I don’t think I’ve missed my calling.” And I realised that I really like writing. Even in all my prior careers, communication has kind of always been my thing, in whatever way, shape or form it takes.”
Stephanie realised that writing had always been her strong point and it was a direction that she wanted to head in, which is how she eventually came to be profiling interesting people on the Coffs Coast.
“Because we were travelling at the time that this came to me, I realised that there were these amazing stories. People living in the middle of nowhere with, in some respects, unremarkable lives had really remarkable stories to tell. So I decided that would be a direction that I would like to go.”
Stephanie’s website The Most Interesting Person I Know spawned from her passion for people and her desire to write and share their stories with the rest of the world. As she interviews more of our local people, it becomes quite obvious what a remarkable community we actually have here on the Coffs Coast. From motivational speakers to balladeers, television celebrities and writers, we certainly do have a diverse population. The Coffs Coast may be a small regional centre, but it’s got a huge heart. And that becomes more evident through the remarkable stories that Stephanie shares on her site.
Stephanie’s future plans are to use her writing skills to create a company that writes interesting histories of families and their businesses, and she sees The Most Interesting Person I Know as a great transitional opportunity for her.