What does it take to achieve your dream?

Jackie Kevill: Take risks — No. 31

Jackie Kevill can’t resist a bargain. So, when the 48-year-old retail dynamo recently spotted a brand-spanking-new dress at one of her Loony Lizard dollar-store franchises, she snapped it up. “For a dollar!” she crows. “I thought to myself, ‘I should be good and save this for a customer.’ But I had to have it!”

For Kevill, the thrill of the discount is matched only by the rewards of taking risks. Witness Kevill’s chutzpah in 1992, when she inherited a small sum from an aunt. The former teacher and stay-at-home mom vowed to open the “best dollar store anywhere,” despite brisk competition and no experience in the male-dominated retail field.

Believe in yourself
“I had no idea what I was doing,” Kevill says with a laugh. “Sales reps told me there was no way to keep the dollar concept going. But I decided to carry on until it stopped working.” Today, she credits “fanatical shoppers” for transforming her flagship Loony Lizard store–where she acted as purchaser, cleaning lady and stock girl — into a 26-store franchise operation worth more than $12 million.

Kevill swears that any woman with courage and a taste for adventure can do the same. “What’s the worst that can happen?” she asks. “I’m not a brain surgeon. If I make a mistake, I put it into perspective.”

Self-assurance and a thick skin certainly make risk taking easier to bear. It also helps to have unshakable passion. “I just love providing value to people,” Kevill says. “When I hear gasps from the customers saying they can’t believe what they’re finding, that makes it fun.” Kevill herself still gets carried away by the excitement of a good deal. And as her recent dress purchase proves, Kevill doesn’t take risks just in business. “I didn’t even try it on in the store,” she gushes. “And it fit!”