Starting from scratch after unexpectedly losing her business premises four years ago, Tathra hair stylist Karen Levido has used the challenges encountered to recreate both her business and her mindset.
An accidental fire destroyed the building from which the experienced stylist worked in January 2018, along with two other shopfronts, leaving Bliss Stylists without a base.
Karen was able to continue to service her loyal client-base from a temporary salon space at Tathra Beachside Caravan Park, which she said was "such a blessing".
"They were generous enough to let me work there for a couple of years and I don't know what would I have done without it," Karen said.
She worked towards getting a studio built and the business operational at her Wallagoot home, where Bliss then ran for the next year and a half.
"I found myself in a position where I needed to come back into town to live and was looking for somewhere to work from," Karen said.
Coming full circle, Bliss has returned to the same location up near Tathra headland, following a rebuild of the space and adjoining shops.
"The shop became available again just as I needed it, which was amazing," Karen said.
"Being back in the new-old salon, I am once again enjoying the beautiful view of the ocean and people waving as they walk past.
"It's wonderful being in the centre of the community again," she said.
Hairdressing remains Karen's main focus from Wednesday-Saturday each week, but she has also added some new strings to her bow.
"At the time of the fire I had just finished studying Clinical Hypnosis and Strategic Psychotherapy, and on Mondays I am using the salon a bit differently, practising that work," Karen said.
"It's a really beautiful space to use for that purpose, I close the windows off, it's open, friendly and non-threatening."
Karen said the main aim of the evidenced-based therapy was to help people overcome patterns which were no longer helpful to them.
"I have a passion to work until I am at least 75, so I wanted to diversify as well as using some of the skills I had already gained through years of hairdressing, like connecting with people and building rapport."
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Having a history of experiencing anxiety herself, Karen said through her studies she was able to build strategies which allowed her to work through challenges life presented.
"Which as we all know, is an ongoing exercise," she said.
The Tathra bushfire in 2018 took place only two months after the original Bliss salon burnt down, and the Black Summer fires followed less than two years later.
"I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't had the learnings I had," Karen said.
"In my previous state of anxiety I think I would have been much more affected, but having my practice already built, I could take the steps to continue life in a positive and pragmatic way.
"It's now my passion to help people who have lived with anxiety and its discomfort, to find ways to navigate that," she said.
Karen also seeks to help teens realise they can learn strategies that will help them as they go through adolescence, into adulthood and out into the wider world.
"If you can learn these things when you're young it can set you up better for the future," she said.
"Older people who have built patterns up over the years can also work towards changing them.
"It's not magic - it does take commitment to change the neural pathways," Karen said.
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