Adapting is second nature for first in class

2560 1709 In Good Company | Northern Rivers

Lazuli and Co.

Level 1/180 Molesworth St, Lismore

Adapting is second nature for first in class

“I love the word adaptable,” says Peta Tillett, 35, manager of Lazuli and Co. “I feel like I’m more adaptable to my surroundings now.”

The hairdresser and business owner, after all, has had a lot to adapt to – her salon is in central Lismore and was destroyed by the February 2022 floods, which also completely engulfed her nearby home. Before that were the ravages wrought by the pandemic.

But it was an unlikely kind of business disaster that made Peta think outside the box well before both of those events unfolded. A major telecommunications issue in 2020 meant her salon was without phone or internet access for 11 weeks. She decided to hire a locally-operated virtual administrator to take care of all business phone calls. It was a prescient move that she credits with keeping her relatively calm when her business was dramatically forced shut – it meant she could focus on her inundated house and concentrate on the safety of her staff while her administration team communicated with clients.

It’s a long-term approach that is wrapped into the way Peta, who moved to the Northern Rivers from Victoria five years ago, leads Lazuli, too. Here, she invests heavily in training, with her two apprentices brought into planning and decision making from the moment they began. 

She bought the salon four years ago, expanding it to an eight-chair space with six staff. All of Lazuli’s products are Australian-owned and made. Peta also manufactures her own cosmetics line, Peta Elizabeth Cosmetics – a brand that sits neatly within her philosophy of sustainability and local production. 

“I don’t think I’d feel like this if I didn’t have my team around me”

Nineteen weeks after closing because of the floods, the salon reopened in “an enormous” new space on the top floor of a building on higher ground. An in-house receptionist is planned as is a dedicated Peta Elizabeth Cosmetics manager. 

Most excitingly, Lazuli will pivot to the needs of a town in transition, delivering luxury services at an affordable rate, so that those who lost everything in the floods are able to benefit from the salon. “We have more space,” she explains, “I have the ability to grow our business, offer different services and more jobs, which means more opportunities for people in the town.”

But Peta’s proudest achievement of 2022 has been maintaining her team. “I don’t think I’d feel like this if I didn’t have my team around me,” she says.

It’s no surprise, perhaps, that she is a perpetual optimist – and, in her words, has a little too much energy at times. And while it’s been a tough year, her voluntary work for Hair Aid, teaching vulnerable women prisoners in Indonesia and Cambodia the skill of hairdressing, has given her a healthy sense of perspective.

Above all, she has learnt the value of looking after herself. 

“I started running again. I started doing pottery classes. As much as we have all this stuff going on, you have to focus on the things that make you feel good,” she says. “We don’t have walls in our house but I make time to look after myself in ways that I know I should.”

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