When an arsonist burned Anna Ravizza’s beauty salon to the ground in January, she realised there were a lot of things she needed to learn to move forward in her business and personal life.
Housed in a quaint Queenslander on Boundary Street, Anna’s Skin and Beauty had a loyal clientele and Anna was working six (and a half) days a week to grow the business. She had taken out business interruption insurance and stock and equipment insurance when the salon opened, and paid her annual premiums with little thought since.
“I’m glad we had that, however we hadn’t updated the policy since I had opened, and that was an oversight,” she explains. “I’d invested in new equipment and stock as the business had grown.”
Like most North Queensland business owners, she assumed the biggest threat to her business would be a cyclone.
“I never in a million years expected a fire,” she says. “The worst thing about a fire is that it’s so final. There was nothing left. If it was a cyclone or flood, you can still pick through whatever is left and get what you can, but with a fire, there is nothing.”
The insurance company was supportive and easy to deal with, however the financial impact of the fire is ongoing.
“The insurance company was great, it wasn’t a struggle,” she says. “But because of how my business was destroyed, it was extremely hard to get insured again. We eventually found someone, but the insurance has more than doubled because of the nature of the claim.”
Under her policy, Anna was entitled to have her income covered for up to 52 weeks, but within hours of the devastating fire, she chose to focus on the rebuild.
“The police came at 3am and said ‘your salon has burned down,’” she recalls. “The news crew came around early that morning and I told them I was going to open in four weeks – I don’t know where that came from!”
“I wasn’t prepared to let my business go. I would have been starting again if I waited so long,” she says. “The best place for me emotionally was to be in my salon with my clients,” she says. “I kept saying ‘I just need to get back to my people and then I will be okay.’”
Anna credits the community with making it possible for her to re-open Anna’s Skin and Beauty in its new location in Morris Street, West End.
“I had pulled this date out of thin air for what I was determined to do, but without the support of the people who helped with the rebuild, we couldn’t have made that happen.”
“It wasn’t just words, people followed through with their offers of help. I’d never experienced something like that, it was absolute magic and so humbling.”
“It was really overwhelming, I didn’t realise that so many people cared,” she says. “It wasn’t just words, people followed through with their offers of help. I’d never experienced something like that, it was absolute magic and so humbling.”
Anna has embraced the change in her new salon with positivity and resilience.
“It took a while to settle in because I really loved that first place,” she says, fondly. “The space that I am in now is very different to the last one, a bit more professional. My mum says to me, ‘that was your baby, this is your grown-up salon’”.
While it’s not a marketing strategy any business would wish for, the media coverage from the fire has significantly raised Anna’s profile and her salon has attracted new clients.
“That’s definitely a positive that came out of it,” she says, and good naturedly adds, “People recognise me as the lady whose salon burnt down.”
Anna admits that one of the biggest lessons has been the importance of having a work/life balance.
“I didn’t have that before. I was so committed to the business, I would work late every night, Saturdays and even come in on Sundays. I spent a lot of time working in the business because I loved it so much.”
“Had I have known that everything I had worked so hard for could be taken away in three minutes, I may have done things differently. In this salon, I make time for my family and things that I enjoy outside of work.”
“From the community support I received, I definitely want to give back to people who might need it. If I can help people emotionally, give them my time to make them feel good, I want to do that. You need to earn a living, but it’s not all about making money all the time, it’s about the people.”