Back to the faces

Christopher Duane

Yeppoon, Central Queensland (including Mackay/ Isaac/ Whitsunday)
Retail Trade

A cyclone and candles became an unlikely ally for success in this start-up business in Yeppoon. It has taken a redundancy, a name change and product diversification, as well as huge amounts of hard work and determination, for Coastal Funk to thrive.

We are Chris and Debbie Duane from Coastal Funk, home of Karma Kandles right here on the beachfront in Yeppoon on the Capricorn Coast.

Some days are diamonds and some days are rocks, however, being in control of your own destiny and, I guess that's something that my wife and I strongly believe in, that we are confident in ourselves. We all need mentors of some description, whether it's for business, you search out those people that you really think would have the answers, whether it be your accountant, your banker, or your other business owners as I said previously, those people that have been around and have seen the potholes and seen the way dealing with people on more of an empowering type person where it's best to get the best out of people, putting their strengths to work.

We are so community minded here and that's a big part of why we love it here so much. Starting a small business is like jumping out of an aeroplane with all the parts for the parachute and then you've got to figure out how to put it together before you hit the ground.

Chris and Debbie Duane – self-confessed 'candle freaks' – had difficulty finding quality, local candles. After trial, error and continual research for quality environmentally friendly products, Debbie found her own way of producing their desired product. With interest from friends, family and colleagues, Chris and Debbie decided to sell their candles as a sideline business originating in their kitchen at home in Middlemount.

Spending their free time in Yeppoon, the couple saw the potential when their candles were disappearing from their Yeppoon market stall faster than they could make them. This led them to relocate the business to Yeppoon full-time. Recognising the potential of the Yeppoon waterfront, they convinced the owner of a residential unit to let them renovate it into a commercial premises facing the beach. When Chris was made redundant from the mining industry, their only option to stay afloat was to expand their business premises into the adjacent unit to allow turnover to grow significantly. Not everything ran smoothly, but after a lot of hard work and careful financial management, everything started coming together for Coastal Funk.

Listening to their customers and their demand for other niche products, Chris and Debbie diversified into also selling gifts, homewares and furniture. The business was successfully building momentum when Tropical Cyclone Marcia hit just north of Yeppoon. Ignoring their own damage, they focused on donating boxes of candles to the worst victims of the cyclone and the residents without power. They figured if their business was going to fail after the cyclone's damage, they would go down giving back to their community.

Working tirelessly in the clean-up during the extended aftermath of the Category 5 cyclone provided enough cash to keep the business going. With the Yeppoon beachfront undergoing significant change and improvement since then, Coastal Funk diversified again to offer swim and surf accessories. Now employing 2 casual staff members, Chris and Debbie are growing and constantly learning through better management of suppliers, products and processes. In the future, Coastal Funk plans to continue to build a consistent business that offers a unique shopping experience business for locals and tourists alike.

More information

Meet the faces