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What’s the worse that could happen? - What’s the best that could happen?

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

I’d always wanted to have my own business from an early age but doing what, I wasn't sure!

I remember a local hardware shop being put up for sale in the village I lived in. I wanted to buy it, extend the storage space into a mini garden centre and live in the flat above. I went to Barclays at the age of 18, to ask for a loan but they just laughed at me.


I fell into retail, working for Woolworths, part time during my A levels.

Now I should mention at this point of the story, that when I was doing my A levels, I had a boyfriend called Jamie. We were together for 2 years but split up shortly after he went to university.

I continued to work for Woolworths for 5 years, becoming a Store Manager at the age of 19 and being moved to North Wales and then for Makro, as a Department Manager for 3 years, at their Flagship store in Manchester.

One day I got a call from a recruitment agency asking me if I’d like a job at Focus DIY and that I had to go into their offices for an interview. They contacted me after the interview asking if I’d like a job in recruitment instead and after a lot of deliberation, I took them up on their offer.


I worked for them for a few weeks and then for a fashion recruitment agency, before going in-house at the Caudwell Group, where I headed up a brand new retail recruitment team for Phones 4u. The business was rapidly expanding and between March 2001 and December 2002, the business opened 243 stores.


Now I should mention at this point, that I received an “out of the blue” email via Friends Reunited, do you remember that site? The one before Facebook!! Yes you've guessed it…Jamie. He told me that after university he’d worked in a contact centre, done a couple of other jobs and then set up a recruitment business called 80-20. At this point we were both separated and as he had always been the LOVE OF MY LIFE, we got back together.


One of my last assignments with the Caudwell Group was to recruit a new HR Director. I interviewed a number of people for the role and then I had another “out of the blue” moment. I received a call from one of them asking if I’d consider recruiting for them, within their current business.

This of course meant leaving the Caudwell Group and joining another business, or did it? Maybe this was the opportunity I had been waiting for all these years.


I resigned from my position, the downside I had a 6 months notice period, the upside, it gave me 6 months to get my head around being self-employed!


So although I can’t take the credit for initially starting the 80-20 recruitment business, I’ve successfully been running it for the last 17 years.


I started working in the business in September 2003 and then found out I was pregnant a month later!


Jack was born on 21st June 2004 (the longest day) and it sure was, I even managed to carry out a telephone interview at 9.30am on the morning I gave birth. I came out of hospital on the Friday and was back interviewing on the Monday. In the first year of Jack’s life, I recruited 79 store managers. I would sit in-front of him, in his bouncy chair, surrounded by CVs, with my headphones in, talking to candidates but he thought I was talking to him!

I was also breast feeding, so 2 days a week I drove up to my mums and my mum-in-laws (they are both an hours drive away) They would look after him and then when he needed feeding, I stopped work, fed him and then carried on working.


Crazy, hectic times and when I look back I wonder how I ever managed it all but I did what I did at the time because I was determined to make the business work.

Since 2004, there have been lots and lots of ups and lots and lots of downs. I’ve gained business, I’ve lost business. I’ve recruited in other sectors. I’ve gone up and over and round and through to ensure the business survived.

I’ve worked hard. I’m always honest. I have integrity and I’m determined to succeed and in the darkest moments, I do and try and stay positive and believe in myself. It’s hard but I do try.


Fast forward to 2020 and Coronavirus……

In March I had 30 vacancies and as the stores started to close down, this went to 4 overnight and then to zero. I tried to positive, I then had a massive meltdown, I then took a weeks work cold calling (I hated it) and then my husband (JAMIE) had THE BEST IDEA….why don’t we film you doing your homebrew kits? I had been homebrewing for a number of years and we had all the equipment and so that’s how The CazBar Brew House was born. I have a YouTube Channel and 45 subscribers and I’ve got a FaceBook page too. So let’s see where this adventure leads to???

I’m still running 80-20 and praying that as businesses start to re-open, that recruitment will start to pick up again. Fingers crossed.


My favourite quotes that help me get through life……

· What’s the worse that could happen, what’s the best that could happen?

· It is what it is.

· You only live once but if you do it right, once is enough.

Thanks for reading my story

Caroline xxx

Recruitment Director at 80-20 Recruitment

https://80-20retail.co.uk and Founder of The CazBar Brew House - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqzbuk42e6uQ7_UwWjoSwtQ



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