By Claire Ottaviano
WHILE the long-term effects of COVID-19 remain to be seen, for one hills business owner it has meant turning away from the traditional bricks and mortar shop front and towards the comfort and safety of working from home.
Although leaving behind her business of 13 years has been heart-breaking, Glen Forrest Natural Beauty owner Michelle Fazari says she expected to see others making similar moves in the face of new uncertainties.
“With the Coronavirus and being closed for four months, it was shocking,” she said.
“It was about a month after we reopened I’d decided things had changed too much.
“I knew COVID was going to come back, we could still get a second wave, and mentally I don’t think I could cope with that again.”
Now based in Herne Hill, Mrs Fazari said while losing $60,000, based on the amount of revenue generated during the same time last year, did not come easy, JobKeeper and tax rebates had helped soften the blow and it was not the main reason for her move to become a sole trader.
“The decision was based on the emotional side of it and the scare factor of, if it does happen again, what will I do,” she said.
“I think lots of salons will go this way.
“Social distancing is the new way of life.”
A ten-year employee of Mrs Fazari’s has also taken the opportunity to start her own home salon in Mount Helena.
In response to concerns Perth Hills businesses were struggling, Mundaring Chamber of Commerce president Patrick Bertola told Echo News that although many businesses had suffered because of the closures, only one chamber member had closed due to COVID-19 – another beauty therapist in Mundaring.
“For lots of places the creative response to the closures and adaptability I think has seen some businesses come through quite well,” he said.
“Those who are more impacted are the ones who couldn’t adapt, particularly those like the beauty parlours.
“Because of the restrictions they had the most severe impact on their operations.”
Dropping fees to join the chamber had also seen a surge of new memberships from business seeking help and guidence through this time.
In July, the Shire of Mundaring council supported a $232,500 grant funding pool for businesses and community groups.
The Recover Together fund enables businesses to apply for a series of grants between $500 and upwards of $10,000 in order to help them restart and rebuild.
The grant applications are open until March 2021, but no business is yet to make a submission.
However, 12 community groups have put their hand out.
Libraries and Community Engagement manager Shannon Foster said it was too early to identify any trends in the uptake of grant applications at this stage.
Approved grant recipients so far include Glen Forrest Junior Cricket Club, Riding for the Disabled Association Hills Group, Hills Night Hockey Association, Anglican Parish of Darlington-Bellevue, Darlington Family Playgroup, Stoneville and Parkerville Progress Association and Glen Forrest Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade.
A chamber-hosted and Shire-led free information session about the grants program last week attracted almost 30 businesses which according to Mr Bertola was a sign that the assistance was very sought after.
For Mrs Fazari, it is simply a matter of one door closing and another opening.
“When I say to people how I feel I say I feel like I’ve given my kidney away,” she said.
“Glen Forrest Natural Beauty was my baby before I had babies and from day dot the support from the community has been amazing.”