Decima Lavinia Mason (nee Richardson)
2.10.1927 – 28.5.2015
After a childhood spent helping in her family's mixed business in Hamilton, Decima Mason (nee Richardson) had ‘entrepreneur’ re-affirmed in her DNA, and applied herself to whatever challenge came next.
From a small start as a section manager in Coles, Decima Mason's brains, drive and sparkling personality were much sought after.
Outside of work, she played softball, organised the young set, and went dancing. At the time (in the 1940s) all the young ones around the Hamilton district wanted to learn to dance, and they knew Decima was very keen on dancing. One day a group of them came into the store and asked Decima to teach them. They booked the hall and gathered 100 young set members and each put in two shillings.
Decima ended up with 300 students a week and needed to hire the biggest hall in the district. The kids were urged to wear sandwich boards to the football for advertising, and a mission to each tell 10 other people about the dance.
With entrepreneurial talents like these - marketing, sales and event management - under her belt, from then on the world of retail came to Decima's door.
The first was head of Millers Fashion. General manager Mr Candler rang out of the blue, and said, 'come and see me in my office, girl', and Decima was offered his 'fashion buyer' position.
She soon adapted to the jet-setting life, taking trips in Reg Ansett's DC3 to go and buy fashion. Ansett Australia was still a young company and used paddocks as landing strips a lot of the time. As a buyer her wages were 18 pound a week when the average weekly wage was nine pound.
Next to call on Decima was Myer Melbourne. After two interviews Decima was offered the 'blouse buyer' position, but this was not for Decima. She had been buying for whole departments, and so she declined.
Decima continued to apply her fashion sense to whatever she tackled.
Rockmans also heard about this fashion whiz kid, and the owner, Mr Korman, rang and offered her 40 pounds a week (more than a parliamentary salary), to become the fashion controller at their Chadstone store, in the heady days of Chadstone opening. After being appointed general manager at their Chadstone store, and ever more impressive runs on the board, Rockman's clearly realised her potential and moved her to their four-storey Bourke Street store. Buying trips to Paris and Rome were soon a regular part of her beat.
Next, Waltons decided Decima had the skill and drive to become their buyer. She continued to open stores as well as travelling overseas for buying trips.
In the meantime, Myer rang again to offer her a position as not only fashion controller, but overall charge of all departments and ensuring budgets were met.
Her unerring knack for spotting trends, setting fashion style, and wearing the hottest and latest modes, ensured her complete ‘look’, and gave her the confidence to negotiate her remuneration on results.
On retirement, Decima opened her own business in Maldon, where everyone told her it would never work. Decima's Calder Cottage became an icon, a sure stop on the tourist routes and a mini emporium in the main street of Maldon.
Her Gum Nut Room, and then her Christmas Shop, drew crowds from the region, as well as becoming ‘must dos’ on tourist bus operators’ routes.
At her peak Decima was the unofficial mayoress of Maldon, and had completely revamped the old building, set it up as separate departments under the one roof, and was chuffed when her customers unknowingly were showing off their Calder’s Cottage purchases by carrying the smallest item in a big, brown paper, Calder’s Cottage bag along the main street.
To some she was family, like Peter Valentine at Valentine’s Antiques, where Decima spent her third ‘sales’ career.
Along with her French poodle Pierre, who acted as the security guard and always sported the trendiest red toenails, Decima would drive to work, from Maldon to Bendigo, three days a week.
She and Pierre would meet and greet everyone who came into the store. Dressed to the nines and larger than life, she always resisted her sister’s suggestions to ‘dress appropriate to her age.’
She lived life to the full, was determined never to be average, and was one of the most colourful characters in the region.
The funeral will be held in Hamilton at 2.30pm on Tuesday, June 9 2015.