TRIGGER WARNING: This blog post contains information and experience on domestic violence. If you or someone you know is in a dangerous situation, please call the police at 000 or for confidential support and counselling, please call 1800RESPECT.
Andrea is a successful salon owner based in Adelaide, Australia. She talks to us about being a young business owner, her passion for restoring classic cars, success and equality for women in today's world and her experience with domestic violence.
I started my own business when I was 23. I stumbled across a salon setup within a group warehouse, and it was always my long-term plan to have my own salon.
I was nervous about starting on my own, but also very eager, so I jumped at the opportunity and worked really long hours between my full-time job and my salon. In hindsight, I probably wasn’t ready and there were many times when I questioned my decision to start my own business. I wondered if I should walk away or keep pushing towards my goal. Ultimately, it all paid off and I was able to quit my fulltime job to keep building my business. It was in that moment that I realised there was no going back. This was my life now.
Within the next year or so, I bought a second salon.
Today, I am so grateful that I took a chance on my dream. It wasn’t easy but doing something I love creates the freedom for me to live the life I want.
I’ve liked chrome bumper cars since I was a little girl. My stepdad had a Monaro and we’d go cruising in it together. The seats were leather, and I still remember how they smelt different. I just never lost that curiosity for old cars.
When I was 16, I bought my first car. It was a Torana. All my friends had Commodore’s and Excel’s and I had my heart set on this old Torana. 14 years later and I still have it!
After I blew the engine up, my step-dad said to me “you broke it, so you better come to the shed with me and learn how to fix it”, so I did and never really stopped!
I honestly have too many cars now. People ask me all the time why I’m so into old cars, considering I’m such a girly girl! It is a bit of a boy’s club, but girls are getting more involved in the scene and a lot of the men are super friendly and respectful. We always have a bit of a chuckle together when they tell me they wished their partners would understand the way I do!
I fell in love at 18. He was fun, crazy and we had such great times together, but he didn’t mix around with a great group of friends. He got into drugs and his anger became an issue. It got progressively worse when drugs started to become an escape for any stress or pressure that he faced. I became the nagging “you need help” partner and this created more tension between us. It got to a point where it was so violent that I felt like I didn’t know him anymore.
The first time he hit me was in his sleep. We thought it was funny and laughed it off, but little did I know that would soon become our normal.
I tried to leave countless times, but I didn’t because there was always that glimmer of hope that things would change, and he would get help. I remember one time, walking into the police station to ask for help when he rang me, so I got scared and walked back out. That’s the power of fear. You lose all your rational thought.
I was at my salon the day I finally left. He was calling me, yelling and threatening to come to the salon (which wasn’t uncommon at this point). A client overheard what was happening and said how he talks to me was not acceptable and that we needed to call the police. So, she did. That day, I spent hours going through everything with the police and we created a restraining order. I had no idea how bad things had gotten until I saw the looks on their faces.
My advice to anyone who is watching their loved one deal with a domestically violent relationship is to just be there. On the outside, it’s obvious that what’s happening is wrong but when you’re in the situation, you lose sight of reality and are caught up in the hope that things will get better. It’s true that it only takes one phone call to save a life, but sometimes, it’s the 50th call.
I believe that women can do anything we want to, we just have to be brave enough to give it a go and push aside stereotypical assumptions about what we can and can’t achieve. Just live the life you want, whatever that might be!
I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by loving and supportive people. I understand that not all women have a support system they can rely on, which does create challenges, but we must believe that the future is ours to create. I’ve realised that so much doubt of our abilities comes from within. Ultimately, someone else’s opinion of you is irrelevant, so brush off any negativity that comes from opinions of people who don’t matter. We are as strong as we allow ourselves to be.
Smart men know the power of a woman and will treat her as an equal. In time, the rest will learn as we continue to assert our presence and demonstrate our abilities in moving towards a more equal future.
To me, success is waking up every day and doing something you love.
Every day, I think of three things I’m grateful for and whenever I feel negativity toward something, I try to break it down and understand why it makes me feel that way. We all have bad days, weeks, even years, but working out why you feel the way you do and how you can change it is a choice and a responsibility to yourself.
Happiness comes from within and it’s important to be at peace with your past, present and future.