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Within a couple of weeks of seeing an advertisement in the newspaper for a Baby On The Move franchise, she had her own business in Dunedin.
Ms Clarke had previously been in the police force, where she was involved with car-seat safety, and also in banking, where she had been lending to business customers and thinking, "Why couldn't I do this?".
When she saw the advertisement, she decided there was "huge potential" for such a venture.
Fast-forward five years and her business has been named Baby On The Move's top franchise for the fourth time.
In the early stages, the main emphasis was on car seats and, due to her police background, within several months she became a car-seat trainer for Safe2Go, a national programme to teach child-restraint use.
Ms Clarke, who has two sons, aged 9 and 11, initially ran the business from home.
Her business was named top franchise within one year, was "pipped at the post" in the second year and has won it every year since.
Just over two years ago, Baby On The Move relocated to premises in Kaikorai Valley Rd, which catered for the growth in the business.
Baby On The Move is a nationwide franchise company, with the main emphasis on child safety.
There were about 20 stores throughout the country, Ms Clarke said.
She loved the business and attributed her success in the top franchise award to her passion for it, and also her good staff.
She had a passion for mothers, keeping their babies safe and helping them get the right products.
Honesty was a big part of it, and she and her staff did not push a product "because we've got lots sitting out the back".
Rather, they listened to the customer and found out what they needed.
Ms Clarke particularly enjoyed the teaching involvement, outlining the law and recommendations and how to install car seats correctly.
As a busy working mother, she admitted she did not get much "me time", but it was a great business because her children could be part of it.
"People don't mind kids in the showroom. It's all about babies and kids," she said.