New florist, gift shop ‘next chapter’ for salon owner
AN Ipswich hair dresser and salon owner believes she can take on anything after COVID-19 nearly wiped out everything she had spent years building up.
So much so, Bijanca Dukes has opened up a second business right next to her popular salon.
Ms Dukes has been hairdressing for more than 20 years and moved her Underground Hair Culture salon from the Top of Town to a new location in Eastern Heights in January.
She signed a three-year lease in what was a very different world.
“April was a scary month,” she said.
“When COVID hit, I thought I was done.
“It was going to destroy me financially. I’d just gotten my business to a point where I didn’t owe any money, I own it.
“I thought that was going to be stripped from me and at no fault of my own.
“But we survived.”
While the beauty side of the business had to shut, hairdressing carried on and loyal clients got her through the uncertainty and constant chopping and changing of restrictions.
“I think a lot of hairdressers have survived because no one could travel,” Ms Dukes said.
“So they were coming to get change and make their life a little bit happier.
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“I think surviving something like that, I can take on anything now.
“I think I’ve learnt a lot about myself.”
She has now opened Bee’s Buds and Trinkets in the adjoining shop to the salon, which had been sitting empty.
There is a walkway between the two businesses and Ms Dukes floats between the two during the day.
It is a chance to take up a long held passion and transition into something new after 22 years as a hairdresser.
“We’ve got dried floristry, that’s my main thing,” she said.
“I make all the arrangements and have them for sale and then I have what I call trinkets.
“A lot of giftware, statues and cute little knick-knacks.
“I try and keep a sustainable feel about the shop because my salon is organic.”
While she still loves hairdressing, Ms Dukes said it was a welcome chance to focus on flowers; something she had been wanting to do for 15 years.
She used downtime in June in the middle of the pandemic to learn new skills.
“At some point I’ve got to stop (hairdressing) because of my hands and this is what I’ll stem into more,” she said.
“It’s just my next chapter.
“With dried floristry, a lot of florists do it but not just on its own.
“I do massive wall arrangements. They’re quite unique.
“Florists don’t generally do them because they're too time consuming and take up too much product so that’s my main focus. They’re more elaborate and on a grander scale.
“This keeps my mind ticking. I’m finding a bit more zest, a bit of spark back in my life.”
Ms Dukes said she noticed how COVID had made her resolve stronger when her shop was broken into last month.
“Normally something like that would make me bundle up in a ball and cry and have a panic attack,” she said.
“I handled it really well.
“We shut the doors for the day (on a Saturday), called the insurance company and got it done so we could be back at work on Tuesday.”
Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.