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New home . . . Mary-Jane Hyde sorts through racks at her new Thames St premises. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

A lot can happen in five years – just ask Mary-Jane Hyde.

The Oamaru businesswoman and mother of four last month reopened her clothing store, Mrs Hyde Boutique, in one of the empty shops in the North Otago town’s central business district.

It is almost five years to the day since she first opened her women’s fashion store in a small space in Tees St.

Originally from Lower Hutt, Ms Hyde now lives in North Otago with her four children, who are aged between 9 and 13.

She has a background in fashion design and worked as a pattern-maker for a bridal boutique and other international labels.

But opening Mrs Hyde Boutique in Oamaru happened by accident, she said.

She initially wanted a work space where she could start her own label and found a vacant space in Tees St, thanks to Estella Hair Studio owner Gabrielle Docherty.

With four young children, she never found the time for design, but she held on to the space.

After her three older children started school, she contacted some New Zealand designers about stocking their clothing if she was to open a women’s fashion store in Oamaru.

“I don’t actually know how it really happened, but next minute I contacted Zambesi, of all people, and said ‘I want to open up a shop’,” she said.

It was named Mrs Hyde Boutique after her mother, who died about 18 years ago.

When the business grew out of the Tees St space, she opened in lower Thames St for four years.

That lease ran out earlier this year and she decided to move somewhere with fewer overheads.

At the time, there had been a lot of publicity about empty shops in Oamaru’s central business district.

“Then when I started to look, they were all snapped up and there were only a couple to choose from,” she said.

She was looking for somewhere with character and secured the former Tutu Hill Cakes space in Thames St, a building she had always loved.

Juggling family life with running a business was always a struggle, but she is more determined than ever to make it work.

Stocking labels including Nyne, Kowtow and Elk, she has been “overwhelmed” by the response from the community.

“What I’ve found is just so much love and support – it’s overwhelming. It just brings me to tears.

“For me, it’s not all about the clothes – it’s about relationships with women and making them feel good.

“I want people to come in here and feel welcome.”

Ms Hyde also plans to start introducing her own label to the store next year.

The name of her label is still under wraps, but will represent her four children, she says.

“I’ve always wanted to do my own label, but it’s just been a time factor

“It still is a time factor, but I’m going to push myself to do it.”