Real Stories: The devastating impact of Covid closures on North Shore businesses

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Minna Monaghan & Satu Raunola-Spencer from VENLA in Mosman
Minna Monaghan & Satu Raunola-Spencer from VENLA in Mosman

Just when life in NSW was returning to normal, the latest Covid outbreak and the resulting lockdown has had a huge financial impact on businesses who were only just starting to get ahead after being closed for many months in 2020. These are the stories from our fellow community members who run local businesses on the North Shore.

To support local businesses, North Shore Mums is donating 10 Annual Featured Gold listings in our Directory to those who need the help the most. We’ve received hundreds of applicants, from so many worthy businesses who are struggling to survive. It’s heartbreaking to see the impact that these restrictions are having on local businesses… which are run by local families.

Although we can’t give listings to everyone, we thought we should share some of the stories that we’ve received – to help us all understand the impact on some industries, and why it’s so important we continue to support them!


AshWood & Co (Turramurra)

“As markets have been cancelled, it’s taken away the majority of my income in the last four weeks” – Leah Rigney

Support Leah by buying a beautiful 100% soy wax candle via her website.

Berry Jam Sweet Living (Willoughby)

“This has been a strange time for us, as the government hasn’t made it compulsory for retail to close, yet every day in their press briefing, they
encourage all of us only to leave home for four reasons – general shopping isn’t one of these reasons. Therefore, since lockdown began Berry Jam Sweet Living has been closed. For our store, which is normally open six days a week, this has been devastating. We do have a website, however, most people visit this, then want to see the items in real life at our store. Our combined income over the last eleven days doesn’t even equate to one quietest day of winter trading. We still have suppliers to pay for stock, fabulous casual staff to support, and of course many overheads that don’t change. Even if lockdown is lifted, it will take us some time to make up for these weeks. It is terrifying for us that this may continue longer than these two weeks, but also understand the need for public safety.” – Katie Breden

Berry Jam

Berry Jam Sweet Living, Willoughby

Body, Mind & Ki (Mosman)

“COVID 19 saw me having to close my doors and stop taking clients. As I was a new start up when COVID hit, this had a huge impact on the ability to build my business and clients. It also means that I have not had the opportunity to make back even a small portion of the investment we put into this start up. While many families were also struggling, there was a decline in the interest to my services. Not having had the time put in to establish relationships with current and prospective clients has negatively impacted the ability to move some services online. Individuals want a relationship build on trust and in this industry, that almost always comes from an in-person experience. While we (NSW) was open for a large part of last year, I was unable to re-open until recently. Impacts on our family due to COVID meant that re-opening my business when the rest of the state did re-open was not possible. The time was right to re-open just a few weeks before this new lockdown was put into place. It was very exciting and I was very hopeful! I was scheduled (and booked out) to attend a 2 day anniversary special in a yoga studio, as well as a booking with a spa owner to discuss my services. Both had to be canceled due to COVID 19 lockdown and, with the anniversary now having passed, it looks as though the opportunity has passed as well.” – Amy Squires

Bruno Hair & Makeup (Lindfield)

“I am the owner of a hairstyle & makeup salon in Lindfield. All the hair salons are banned from operating for two weeks (and the lockdown seems likely to be extended). My salon is sitting at North shore and a large portion of my clients are ladies who look after their families.” – Lina Wang

Composite Images (Artarmon)

“We are a family run large format printing and exhibition company with the vast majority of our work related to events, activations and exhibitions. Unfortunately over the last 12+ months there hasn’t been much happening in these industries. We have done our best to ‘pivot’ and provide COVID safe products but they haven’t taken off. We also offer glass and wall graphics for businesses and offices but with so many individuals working from home now corporates are unwilling to invest in their office spaces and for the most part are downsizing their floor space. Likewise for shops, with them either having to close or finding an increase in online shopping there are less promotions and signage requirements. Overall our normal business dealings have really suffered as have those of our suppliers which means our costs for materials have increased yet given the current circumstances we are reticent to increase our prices because we know customers just don’t have the budget.” – Samantha Scott

Curiously Confident (Lane Cove)

“I teach a lot of my aerial and yoga classes in studios which have been closed due to Covid. Right now there isn’t much money coming in and I can’t directly contact students from the studios.” – Lara Adler

Dance Alley Performing Arts (Narrabeen & Lane Cove)

“As we are a dance studio, the COVID restrictions have greatly impacted how we can operate our classes. Class numbers have been occasionally cut, parents haven’t been allowed inside our studio, students haven’t been able to dance and socialise at class the way they used to. We have had to close our studio a few times since the beginning of COVID, which has been an incredible strain on us financially and emotionally.” – Ali Foy

Design+Marketing (Neutral Bay)

“D+M is a modest advertising agency located in Neutral Bay that has been in business for nearly 22 years. Similar to many other small businesses, COVID has had a significant impact on our agency and I truly felt the business would not recover when we were initially experiencing hardship in April 2020. With the assistance of Jobkeeper and our loyal staff we managed to navigate through the difficult times… yet, we still have a long way to go and with the most recent lockdown, we have taken a hit once again. These unprecedented times have challenged us to try new things, be flexible, work hard and be prepared to take on adversity. The importance of being kind and helping others has always been a key part of our culture at D+M and over the past year we have made it our mission to help many local businesses, along with the various other charities and community groups we have supported in the past.” – Julie Furlong
Design+Marketing (Neutral Bay)

Design+Marketing (Neutral Bay)

Elizabeth Louise Hair & Makeup (Elanora)

“The restrictions of covid have impacted my business in a major way as even when I am allowed to work, people aren’t in the same position as they once were financially, so aren’t able to book me for hair and makeup as often. I have just come off maternity leave recently and was really excited to get busy again but covid had other plans unfortunately. I’m hoping all the small businesses can flourish after all these lockdowns.” – Liz Cannon

Elizabeth Louise Hair & Makeup (Elanora)

Elizabeth Louise Hair & Makeup (Elanora)

Everywhere Beauty (Cremorne and Lane Cove)

“We have had to completely close due to covid restrictions. I’m doing my best to hang on to my awesome staff but if covid keeps us closed, I’m afraid I’ll lose them!” – Antonietta Mollace

Function by Design (Mt Colah)

“I teach furniture painting/crafting workshops and sell furniture paint. Even though customers can buy my paint through my website, most of my paint sales are done during workshops where people get to try the paint firsthand. Most of last year and this year, I have struggled to fill seats in my workshops due to Covid! I don’t have a huge social media following and my website isn’t rated highly on Google. So without workshops, this also means that I’m struggling to sell paint too! Giving me little to no income at the moment!” – Isabelle Stacey

Isabelle from Function by Design

Hidden Fence Sydney North (Dural)

“We have had a significant drop in sales. Despite animal purchases increasing in the past 9-12months, we have not found a flow on effect with our product. Generally we find when families are out of the home with work and schooling, Hidden Fence containment systems are a reliable options for ensuring pets are safe within their boundaries, however with lock downs and families at home our service and product is not required.” – Lucy Parrin

HYPOXI (Lane Cove and Sydney CBD)

“I had to close my business during the lockdown in 2020 and again now. I have really suffered financially in my CBD location during the last 16 months, because a lot of my current & potential clients are not back in CBD. My CBD business was down by more than 50% up until late March 2021 when things started to recover slowly, only to be squashed again by the current Covid situation. I had savings that helped me through the last lockdown but don’t have much of those left now, so I’m really hoping that the lockdown doesn’t get extended too much longer, so that I can start working again.” – Bohdana Zajickova

Hypoxi Lane Cove

Hypoxi Lane Cove

Karina’s Mumma Method (Wahroonga)

“My business is about connecting mums and bubs through group fitness training in an outdoor setting. Covid-19 has impacted my business model and I quickly had to adapt to bring my training online. It is fabulous to see my mums come along to my zoom sessions, but we do miss the face to face mum and baby interaction. My clients report how much they love the face to face sessions for so many reasons – the social interaction for themselves and bub, the physical benefits of fitness and the mental health wellbeing of being able to spend time outside to mingle with other mums. I have been lucky in that I am set up outside so can continue to train in this lockdown period (so far) however it’s been a logistical process to try to keep my business running while meeting Covid-19 restrictions and also a toll on me to keep others motivated to exercise safely online. Many Mums have increased their interest in exercising, while I have lost some clients because they are isolating completely during lockdowns. The fear of spreading germs is also very real! I have implemented new safety features to make my clients feel safe and comfortable, within the guidelines set my the government. This all takes time and money and is a mental and physical load on me, the small business owner. E.g. this lockdown I am doubling my time as I have broken down my sessions into small groups so I have no more than 9 Mums and bubs in one area at a time. My planning has increased and I have had to apply credits to training sessions for people that paid upfront but can no longer attend. While my business is impacted, it is also impacting the mental and physical wellbeing of my clients so I am trying very hard to keep them all engaged via WhatsApp, texts etc. which is a lot more time consuming (and less rewarding!) than a face to face coffee/exercise catch up!” – Karina Whelan

Moving Bodies (Mt Kuring-gai)

“The first Covid closure in March 2020 had a tremendous impact on Moving Bodies. Staff were stood down & our income was zero, yet bills were still required to be paid. It was very stressful until the Government Financial Package was announced. We just started to recover financially and the second forced closure has impacted on the business financially again. The July school holidays are one of our busiest times. We conduct Holiday Clinics for working parents, have vacation care groups visit the centre and with the current Ninja Warrior Program on TV, our Ninja open sessions were fully booked. Staff have once again been stood down for an unknown amount of time. Moving Bodies hire a diverse range of people within the local community, school, uni students, young adults and mothers, many without any work due to the closure. It is very distressing for everyone. School programs are a major component of income and as we are uncertain if they can go ahead in Term 3, the potential loss of income and coaches jobs is substantial. It is also very upsetting to families having their weekend Birthday parties cancelled sometimes for the second year in a row. Term 3 classes are now being impacted with people requesting or requiring credits or refunds and cleaning costs and materials have escalated as we adhere to Covid Restrictions and safe policies. The impact is huge for all businesses.” – Rebecca Ross

My Kids Market

“Unfortunately the restrictions in 2020 forced all our Markets to cease and stopped My Kids Market from doing what we love – connecting families to buy and sell quality pre loved baby and kids items. We love meeting new families at events and especially brand new parents as they discover how MKM can help them to save money as they begin their parenthood journey.” – Jennifer Harrison

My Kids Market

My Kids Market

North Shore Swimming (Thornleigh)

We have a number of associated business in conjunction with North Shore Swimming that are closed with no income to help support, yet having the running costs and associated rent that still needs to be paid whilst on hold.” – Haydn Belshaw

Over The Bridge Cafe (Gordon)

“I opened a cafe in Gordon in January. It’s not even been open six months and we haven’t even had chance to settle in yet. Sales have dropped by 70-80%. I am trying to offer a takeaway menu and organize delivery service just to keep us in operation.” – Hye Ok Jin

Ready to eat rice paper roll platter. $50 for 4 people

Pinot & Picasso (Turramurra)

“Unfortunately, the Covid-19 lockdown in Sydney has meant we have had to close our doors completely to our Princes St studio. We’ve had to cancel dozens of classes during our busiest trading period of school holidays whereby we had Kids art classes running most weekdays! We have also had to cancel numerous public sessions for adults and private functions that were due to be held within the Lockdown period. Quite a number of customers are also requesting to postpone future bookings outside of the current lockdown period because of the uncertainty of the whole situation as it stands. Pinot & Picasso AU Have been running free online painting classes to keep kids (and adults) busy and entertained during lockdown in an attempt to give back to the community.” – Nicole Dive

Pinot & Picasso (Turramurra)

Pinot & Picasso (Turramurra)

Pinta Crafts (St. Leonards)

“I have a Paint Your Own Pottery Studio and school holidays is usually busy for me. With this current lockdown, I have had to cancel a lot of casual bookings and parties, not to mention all the potential bookings that I know I would have gotten. The business has been going really well the last couple of months with booked out weekends. I was just starting to get on my feet after a rocky start during the 1st lockdown last year. Pinta Crafts just opened Oct 2019, just before Covid happened. Then this again during what is normally the busiest season for the business.” – Ria Amoranto

RJ Performing Arts (Castlecrag)

“We are currently unable to operate at all, including any holiday schools and exam preparation. Student numbers are not growing as parents as hesitant to enroll in an activity that may not go ahead.” – Rohanna Jones

RJ Performing Arts (Castlecrag)

RJ Performing Arts (Castlecrag)

Running Under the Sprinkler (Avalon Beach)

“My work is mainly in people’s homes, and even if it’s an outdoor session I work pretty closely photographing my clients. After being locked down over Christmas, which is peak season for photographers, this latest lockdown (in my birthday week!) is just another hump in the road. And like so many mums with businesses, I fall below the $75000 turnover required to receive government assistance for either this lockdown, or the Christmas one. Ironic really when it’s my sole income to support my family – just not enough for the government to deem the business worthy of help. My fingers and toes are crossed so very hard that I can still get to Victoria at the end of the month to photograph a beautiful country wedding there!’ – Jacqui Turner

Running Under The Sprinkler Photography

Running Under The Sprinkler Photography

Shed Eleven (St Ives)

Sadly we’ve had to cancel our upcoming Chalk Painting Workshops and try and pivot to selling our chalk paint online. We’re trying to inspire people to upcycle their own pieces while on lockdown. – Jemma Wlasichuk

Shed Eleven (St Ives)

Shed Eleven (St Ives)

Social Nature – New Mums Collective (Hornsby)

“We’ve had to shut the face to face business and sacrifice many things including the momentum of getting clients. While I’m doing some online sessions my income has dropped significantly and many clients have cancelled memberships with us, which breaks my heart. For those who are doing online, it can be done, but it’s difficult to get the same support with their kids (I provide child minding at our sessions) and emotional support they get from coming into the fitness studio.” – Julie Freeman

Stacey Rolfe Photography

“Unfortunately, I can’t work during Covid. While I am technically allowed to travel for work, my clients can’t travel to their sessions. And none of us wants to put newborns at risk with an in-home shoot when there are so many germs flying around. Anyway, I miss it. I miss being at the beach at sunset. I miss chasing toddlers around. I miss clicking that shutter and knowing I’ve captured magic. So while I’m stuck at home, I have caught up with all my editing, overhauled my website, organised the heck out of my business, had far too many IT dramas, and done way too much EOFY shopping”. – Stacey Rolfe

StarDust Kids

“StarDust Kids provides magical children’s entertainment across Sydney delivering thousands of kids smiles every year. With the current NSW Covid-19 restrictions, this has meant that we have had to cancel or postpone 99% of our bookings resulting in not only the company forfeiting it’s revenue stream, but also placing our wonderful entertainers (and the entertainers from most kids entertainment companies) into a difficult financial situation. Whilst we offer a virtual party option, and these have been suggested to our existing clients to mitigate losses, we have noticed a reluctancy to take this option up. We believe that this is mainly due to the uncertainty as to how long the lockdown will last, as well as a sense of fatigue surrounding the use zoom and similar platforms. We have also seen a dramatic drop in new enquiries, again due to the uncertainty surrounding the length of the lockdown and what restrictions will remain in place once lockdown is lifted. This means that planning for the future and being able to have certainty moving forward is very difficult. In conclusion, the lockdown, it’s restrictions and the potential restrictions that will remain in place even once lockdown has been lifted, ultimately create an uncertain future not only for StarDust Kids and it’s entertainers, but the future of kids parties and entertainment in general across NSW. It’s a sad and frustrating place to be in.” – Sam Rice

StarDust Kids

StarDust Kids

The Dermal Diary (North Sydney)

I am the founder of a specialist skincare clinic called The Dermal Diary – we transform clients skin through education and taking our clients on a journey with treatments and tailored skin plans to help them achieve their skin goals. The first lockdown was incredibly hard for us after having my first baby, we had to stand down our brilliant team of three. This second lockdown, I’m 8-months pregnant with my second child while managing a seven person strong team. This time we desperately hope to avoid standing anyone down, although it’s been incredibly challenging with revenue taking a dramatic plunge (at time of writing it’s down more than 50%) due to our main source of income coming from in clinic facials. Having a team of this size depending on my leadership during this time hasn’t been easy, let alone having a child under one who has had sleep difficulties and with a second baby only weeks away… there’s certainly been a tear or two during this time!” – Isabella Loneragan

The Sustainable Traveller (St Ives)

“COVID19 impacted my business but also my self-esteem, confidence and motivation. I have twenty years in travel and tourism and have spent four years building up my business of sustainable travel and have become known as the expert in this space. And in just a few words that international borders were closed, my business halted and has been on a hiatus ever since. I lost my way, my motivation and struggled to pick up the pieces and begin again. Only recently, in the past few weeks, I have engaged with a business strategy (government subsided), taken on a new social content creator, redeveloping my website with a new search engine, booking facility and finally engaged with a lawyer to get legal booking conditions on the website (mumpreneur based in Newport). I’m feeling confident, ready to kick goals, empower others and embrace fellow females to be a part of the company and community of The Sustainable Traveller.” – Dayana Brooke

The Trusty Handyman (Lindfield)

“When Covid hit in 2020, my husband Scott and I, both employed in the arts and live performance, lost all our work. With no family support and four children depending on us, we were desperate! Scott, with 30 years experience in acting, teaching, directing and performance consulting, decided to use his knowledge as a keen gardener and skilled handyman/builder/creator to set up a new business – The Trusty Handyman! It started off as a word of mouth thing and we just used Arts Tasker to start. But as he started to do great work, word spread and the business began to be a serious venture. Just as we began to feel like we were getting somewhere, the latest lockdown has thrown everything up in the air again! If we don’t work, we don’t earn money – which means we can’t pay rent or bills. So we HAVE to work! Obviously, during lockdown, home improvements and projects are not the first priority, so we’d love to be able to advertise with North Shore Mums and build up jobs once lockdown is lifted.” = Lisa Griffiths

Turramurra Learn to Swim

“We have been closed down for the duration of the lockdown. We couldn’t run our usual holiday course. Parents are being understanding but lockdowns create uncertainty, especially if you have to close completely. Not everyone returns and some ask to cancel as they are scared of coming out to activities when Covid is not under control in our community. In addition the children’s skills suffer from a lack of continuity of lessons.” – Verity Whitelaw

Turramurra Learn to Swim

Turramurra Learn to Swim

VENLA resell+relove

“We opened a rent-a-rack second-hand retail fashion store in Mosman in January 2021. We have had a very successful start. The North Shore community has fully embraced our service to recycle their fashion and help reduce fashion waste in our community. We have also been able to donate $2500 to Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter as one of our initiatives. Due to the COVID-19 restriction we have closed our store as we are not categorised as an essential service. Our team consists of two founders and also, just recently, one full time staff. COVID-19 has a massive impact on our business – our income has stopped while our doors are closed. We do hope we can re-open the doors on 10 July and quickly get back on our feet.” – Satu Raunola-Spencer

VENLA

VENLA

Waterside Bistro (Bobbin Head)

“Our revenue is down 75% on some days and minimum of 40% every day. In other words we are bearing the cost of our staff being there right now… taking care of them as without them we don’t have a business. We took over the restaurant a couple of years ago, and it’s like a new cafe! We can’t wait to welcome you.” – Nikki Vaux

Enjoy a take-away meal and coffee by the marina


More tips for coping with the Covid-19 restrictions

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