Before continuing to the opening of Baxter Street and the new world that was ahead of us all in the Queensland branch of the Kolotex Group of Companies, I’ll trace back over the few months leading up to the commencement of that wonderfully inspiring, energetic time.
After I moved to my New Farm flat, I decided I wanted to earn extra money. I gained part-time evening employment in a small restaurant called “The Pelican Tavern”, owned by a Russian gentleman, Kryiol Wypow. Never having worked in a restaurant or similar before, it was quite a challenge for me, but one I was keen to tackle. I waited tables on Friday and Saturday nights. From there my hours grew, sometimes working a couple of nights during the week, as well. The Tavern opened my eyes to and began my interest in the food industry. I spent a lot of time with Mr. Wypow, watching him prepare meals for his diners. He was a self-taught cook and enjoyed my keen interest in what was going on around me. The Tavern was my first introduction into the restaurant industry. I was immediately addicted!
Socially, my life was pretty full, as well. By that time, I had a fairly wide circle of friends. When “R” arrived back home in
The emerging plans of our
Once again, I bade farewell to “R” as he boarded his return flight to the States. Turning swiftly on my heels, I strode determinedly towards my new world, leaving the past behind me.
Gathering together our eager, new bunch of “troops”, we were ready to “open our doors” by the time the New Year had come and gone. All decoration, fittings and fixtures were completed. The warehouse was stocked to its limit and more. Paddy, the head store-man, was diligently instructing his “boys”, with me busy interviewing, hiring and training the clerical staff. The Glo International showroom beamed proudly. Its glistening glass shelves and brass fittings adorned with showpieces. Men and women’s wear, displayed prominently and decoratively in the Rogtex showroom, were ready for the first buyers to step through its doors. The concertina doors were closed between the Rogtex and Kolotex showroom enabling the hosiery showroom to stand alone, displaying its wares. The building, its interior and the warehouse were ready. John, me and the rest of the staff were crouched at the starting line, waiting for the starter’s pistol. We heeded its sound. We were off! A commanding lot of competitors we were!
The excitement was contagious throughout the staff, but quickly came the time to knuckle down. Our dream was now a reality.
The heady days of “Clings, The Girl With the Poodle On the Pack”, Kolotex’s first major entrance as high-rollers in the hosiery trade, were in the past, but definitely not forgotten. “Clings” stockings had placed Kolotex Hosiery on the map. We had now expanded that map a thousand-fold with a vigorous resolve to keep the Kolotex name foremost in the minds of the retailers and their customers.
Paul Kornmehl visited from Sydney Head Office, (he didn’t get to meet his telephone buddy), as did Eric Baruch, the head of the handbag division, so did some of the other “heavies” from
A few month’s into our first year of the joint marketing, Sasha and I left the New Farm flat to live in a brand-new apartment in a building of eight apartments, which had been completed within days before I took up occupancy. I was the first tenant to move into the new apartment block, other than the young owner/landlord and his mate who occupied the townhouse at the rear of the block. Sasha took one look at his new residence, nodded his head in agreement and then immediately found his cosy spot on my bed.
I became “married” to my job. My life revolved around my work and the Kolotex Group. I didn’t take holidays. Holidays were of no interest to me as there was so much happening within the company and my part in it all was major. Plus I was far more interested what was unfolding around me than going on a holiday. I’d miss out on all the fun! Sick days were not part of my vocabulary. New lines were being produced regularly, in all three branches of the company, meaning promotional evenings had to be planned to present them to the retailers. For the first year, Queensland Caterers were hired to handle the catering side for such evenings, but soon my interest in food again came to the fore. I presented a plan to John, who agreed with my idea, forwarding it on to the
Our young receptionist, Dale, soon blotted her copybook. Eventually I had no option other than to sack her. Not a month went by without her taking two, three or more days off work “sick”. I had no evidence to prove her deception, being forced to wait until she slipped up. Her attitude became brazen and cocky, tossing her nose in the air at instruction, then one day she tripped over her own deceitful attitude and careless ways.
Dale's replacement was Julie.
To explain the ‘promotional evenings’, during my years with the Kolotex Group of Companies we held many such evenings and all were hugely successful. We had a few crazy, fun ideas such as a
Not only did I handle all the catering and everything involved with the catering side of our promotional evenings, but I also worked closely beside John in the choreography and themes to be used by the models during those evenings. We worked intuitively with the modeling agencies. We had our favourite models who we used regularly and we knew what we were looking for. Actually, the first ever panti-hose commercial produced in Australia, was produced by John at the Channel Nine studies, in
One massive promotion the company sunk their teeth into was when Kolotex flew a photographer, his crew and three models to
As our guests began arriving, amongst them was the “grey-haired gentleman” who, in fact, was Dr. Robert Wright. Though a “true blue Aussie”, Dr. Wright was the Chilean Consul and had been for many, many years. Robert Wright was a Doctor of Dentistry. He was
The Peruvian Consul, whose name I’ve forgotten, and his wife attended. He was very quiet and conservative, a vast contrast to the more gregarious Dr. Wright.
Throughout the country Kolotex ran a competition, offering trips to
After each of these promotional evenings John and I, particularly, would be exhausted. A lot of careful organization and planning went into the evenings. Beforehand, John would stress about giving his “sales pitch”, having to stand “bare faced” in front of a showroom filled with our business guests. He was a “man of words”, very intelligent, well-read and well-traveled, having at one time been the overseas’ buyer for a major South Australian retailer. He had been based in
In handling the catering side of the evenings, I made notes and notes during the weeks beforehand, planning the style of food for the evenings, listing ideas and ingredients, desirous that the menu I chose fitted the “theme” of the particular promotion. Raiding the supermarkets, butchers and delicatessens, soon the kitchen in my apartment was overflowing with groceries, which spilled over to the staff room at
So there I was chief caterer for our promotional evenings as well as secretary, office manager and whatever else I was. Titles have never meant anything to me. I was John Trimmer's secretary and under that umbrella I expanded my horizons. He allowed me to fly free, never clipping my wings.
Kolotex soon became the “talk of the town” because of our wildly successful promotional evenings. No one else could match them.
Carla Zampatti, the acclaimed Australian fashion designer, at that stage a few years into her career, was contracted to design a signatory range of women’s wear by the Rogtex Clothing division. I was the first person to cater for Carla in
The beautiful, effervescent, unstoppable Maggie Tabberer, former model, owner of designer label “Maggie T” and well-known personality was also contracted at one stage, putting her name to a new panti-hose line being produced. Maggie turned seventy years young 0n 13th December 2006. It was once said about her that she “was too beautiful to be a model”. She certainly has been a bright light in
Our company became the major runner in the hosiery field and in the metal-mesh world of handbags and accessories. The Rogtex division was really a minor player in the fashion industry but it still played its small, though important part well. Its customer base was slowly but surely increasing throughout the retail outlets in Queensland and Northern New South Wales.
To be continued.....(pictures of Maggie Tabberer when she was younger and one taken about four or five years ago)