Twenty years of business experience navigating conflicting industries led Jo Maxwell to founding her own business adored by her Highfields regulars.

Moving from banking to retail, and everything in between, Jo Maxwell finally opened Highfields gift shop Jaybelle Home Décor and Gifts in 2010, providing her customers with a diverse range of items from home décor to art, jewellery and cosmetics. For Jo, community is everything. “The customers are the most important thing. Without customers you don’t have a business. I have loyal customers that have been following me from different stores for 20 years.”

Her efforts to keep the local community thriving despite the various challenges that can befall entrepreneurs like her are also what make her and the store a highlight of Highfields. Jo is aware of the complications that online marketplaces can bring upon small, locally owned businesses like Jaybelle. However, with the ingenuity she has brought to the shopping experience in her store and the loyalty that she and her staff have built, the customers and the community are sure to continue to return for more. “The community in Highfields is very supportive and I’ve lived here for 20 years. The children have gone to school here so you do get to know a lot of people. The community is my number one support base.” Jo has built this support by providing her community with valuable personal service. She helps them source products, provides advice on options and her staff do the same.

Jo is also passionate about supporting other local businesses. “All our staff and myself shop locally. We employ locals and spend our profits locally. We keep small communities thriving. We are endeavouring to stock more locally made items and items from Australian artists and artisans. Unless we support local artists as a bigger store, unless we support small artists and give them a name out there, we cannot expect them to support us.”

The store carries various locally made products including furniture, art and jewellery. The wide range of products aims to inspire customers who are looking for something specific or have just come in for a wander. Jo’s goal is to ensure her customers can completely decorate their homes with the items they buy at Jaybelle while simultaneously giving them the opportunity to buy gifts for loved ones or to indulge in a new accessory.

Jo says that Highfields is a big inspiration to her too. “I draw inspiration from the location, the view and the open fields. You come to work here six days a week, but you don’t feel like you’ve been working six days a week because of the atmosphere.”

Feeling the positive impact she makes on the community as a successful business owner, Jo has a message to anyone looking to follow a similar path and open their own business. “Please don’t let anyone say you can’t do it. Where there is a will, there is a way. Don’t be frightened to ask for advice — even if it’s from the store or business that you admire.”

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