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Nestled in a quiet corner of Surry Hills in Sydney, Luna Beauty & Apothecary blends naturopathy, skincare and health to provide a holistic experience.
Naturopath and beauty therapist, Fay Halkitis, created Luna Beauty & Apothecary after her own skin issues and uses an integrative approach to wellness.
“The idea stemmed from both my personal experience with problematic skin and a love of plant-based products and medicine,” she told TheLatch—. “Each and every treatment plan is individualised to cater to the client’s own needs and concerns.”
Halkitis has been a beauty therapist for 11 years and a naturopath for six. In that time, she’s worked in both the beauty and health industry in London and Sydney. While Halkitis opened Luna Beauty & Apothecary in 2016, she didn’t launch the online store until two years ago.
“I was very resistant to the idea of an online store for the first two years of being in business because I really wanted to encourage my customers to come into the store and engage for the complete customer service experience,” she said.
Despite this hesitance, the online store is what is keeping Halkitis busy while her physical shop is temporarily shut. We spoke to Fay Halkitis about the effects of COVID-19 on her business and her hopes for a post-coronavirus world.
Alexandra McCarthy: Thanks for chatting with us, Fay! Let’s start from the very beginning — can you please tell me a little bit about your business?
Fay Halkitis: Luna Beauty & Apothecary was launched almost four years ago. It was created as a retail and treatment space dedicated to naturopathic skincare. The idea stemmed from both my personal experience with problematic skin and a love of plant-based products and medicine. Each and every treatment plan is individualised to cater to the client’s own needs and concerns. In saying that, our store also caters to those who are simply interested in beauty and wellness.
AM: Off the top of your head, what are a few highlights you’ve experienced in your career?
FH: Opening my shop and clinic space is definitely the biggest highlight of my career. Every time a client makes another appointment with me, it’s a highlight!
AM: Talk me through your digital presence — has having an online presence helped your business?
FH: Definitely! Social media, specifically Instagram, has been essential for helping potential customers discover and connect with the business. In saying that, I only launched the online store about two years ago. I was very resistant to the idea of an online store for the first two years of being in business because I really wanted to encourage my customers to come into the store and engage for the complete customer service experience.
Even once I added a webstore to my site, the majority of my customers still preferred to come in and shop which I love. I think it was the right decision though because we stock quite a few brands that aren’t found elsewhere in Australia or are difficult to get so I wanted to make them more accessible to those living outside of Sydney and it’s a convenient way for customers to restock their favourite products.
“Social media, specifically Instagram, has been essential for helping potential customers discover and connect with the business.”
AM: When did your business first start to feel the effects of COVID-19?
FH: It is very much a service-based business so the effects were felt as soon as we had to temporarily close the treatment room in line with Government guidelines about a month ago. Thankfully online sales have really picked up over the past few weeks.
AM: What does it mean for you now?
FH: It mostly is just waiting and watching for now. I’m continuing to fulfil online orders daily and will start making a plan to reopen the retail store until we get the OK to resume treatments.
AM: How have you had to change the way you work?
FH: It was still really important for me to be available to offer advice for my customers. I think everyone has been impacted in some way financially by COVID so I didn’t want to charge for this service. For anyone wanting to purchase products from our online store, I’ve been encouraging them to reach out via email for recommendations and tips.
AM: What has been the hardest part about making these changes?
FH: The hardest part was not being able to provide shifts for my staff. In the few months leading up to COVID, I was taking steps to expand by hiring a second facial therapist to accommodate more clients. That has obviously had to be put on hold for now.
“The hardest part was not being able to provide shifts for my staff.”
AM: How can customers support your business in the short term?
FH: We just simply hope that customers will be there ready to book in once we reopen. In the meantime, I’ve noticed existing customers engaging more through social media and sharing with friends, so if they continue to spread the word then we should be back on our feet in no time! It’s nice to still feel like the business can experience growth in the interim.
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Even though our Surry Hills store is in temporary hibernation, our online store remains well and truly open and I can always be reached by phone or email for skincare advice and product recommendations. Thank you to everyone who has shown concern and support. Not to worry, we aren't going anywhere! I'm also super thankful for my hard-working and understanding staff who will be back in store as soon as it's safe to re-open. Amidst all the tragedy, fear and sadness, I'm choosing to see this as an opportunity to carve out time for the rest and creativity I have been craving. Sometimes, there's no other option but to look for a silver lining! What does your silver lining look like? I would love to know how everyone else is feeling.
AM: Do you think the way you operate your business will be changed for good?
FH: It’s unlikely to change for my business for good as we are primarily a service-based, hands-on business. The plan is to return to business as normal once it is safe to do so. It has reminded me though of the advantages of social media and other avenues for sharing information such as blogs.
AM: What advice do you have for other business owners?
FH: Having diversity in your business model is really important for survival. It’s also been a blessing to have relatively low overheads. If you’re just starting out, don’t sign yourself up for a huge lease which may be difficult to meet in normal circumstances let alone during a road bump such as COVID. I’ve also been mindful of seeing this as a hibernation and something very temporary rather than a closure. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow!
“Having diversity in your business model is really important for survival.”
AM: What do you think we will all learn from this experience?
FH: Our health and wellbeing are the most important thing in life. Without health, we don’t really have anything and the economy is no longer king. I hope we all learn to appreciate rest and flexibility a little more too.