Illawarra businesswomen share the importance of never giving up on a dream

Designer careers: Penny Magro with Illawarra Women in Business director Glenda Papac and Cristina Hofman at Villa D'Oro Function Centre. Picture: Greg Ellis.
Designer careers: Penny Magro with Illawarra Women in Business director Glenda Papac and Cristina Hofman at Villa D'Oro Function Centre. Picture: Greg Ellis.

A panel discussion with Penny Magro and Cristina Hofman at the final Illawarra Women in Business (IWIB) networking lunch of the year provided an interesting look back on their careers.

The two stylists recently teamed up to form CP Property Styling & Furniture Hire which styles homes and helps those looking for professional backgrounds for events in the Illawarra.

The prominent businesswomen worked individually as stylists for many years but now work together styling properties for sale throughout the Illawarra and and in Sydney.

But turn the clock back a few decades and their dream their careers would take them where are doing today.

Mrs Magro recalled when she was at high school and wanted to do a technical drawing subject it was a little different than it was for a teenage girl would experience today.

She was told she would have go and convince the principal she should be allowed.

Mrs Magro was told “if you are that keen to be in this industrial arts area where all the boys are and girls have never been you need to gives us reasons why a female should be accepted. You will have to convince the principal.”

She said fortunately she had won best public speaking awards every year and was confident she could persuade him and did.

“They didn’t think I would. The next year I was starting Year 8 and I spoke to the principal and four men from industrial arts and told them why I should be allowed to,” she said.

At around the same age Mrs Hofman had a similar experience of being told what she should consider when planning a career.

“When I was left school in Year 10, which you did in those days, I went into secretarial school because that was what good girls did. I really wanted to be an art teacher but I was told “no that is not going to get you anywhere. do secretarial and you might get a job”. That was the way they thought”.

Mrs Hofman started doing a secretarial course at TAFE but felt bored. Then she heard about sign-writing course and did that at night. That was followed by a painting and decorating course and then an interior design course online. She began getting experience in the area helping customers make decisions about floor coverings and paint colours to match when she met her husband-to-be Karl Hofman and worked at his father’s business South Coast Floor Covering. 

Mrs Hofman decided to start her own interior design business when she was 40. Mrs Magro’s career went in many directions including midwifery.

She also worked for Mission Australia before starting Styled by Penelope. Both were influenced by women in their families who were creative with fashion sense and in their homes.

The final IWIB networking events for 2017 are a Coffee Club at Pepe’s On The Beach at 10am on December 8 and a Christmas Party at m2 Kitchen Cafe.

Related stories: