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Dressing windows through coronavirus


“Even before the pandemic, I always made sure to book longer appointments with clients so there was enough time for a chat.” Nina Paul.

Image source: Design by 13 Interiors, photography by Gathering Light.

  • Family-run business Perth Window Décor thought business would drop when COVID-19 hit


  • The pandemic actually saw a rise in people redecorating their homes


  • Owner Nina Paul has provided her clients with a connection and a friendly ear during 2020, as well as stylish new window dressings.


What do you do in the middle of a global pandemic? You renovate and redecorate your home.


Not the first idea to come to mind but with so many Australians spending time at home this year, and seeing what improvements they could make around the house, that’s exactly what happened.


Nina Paul is the director of Perth Window Décor, a family-owned and operated company specialising in custom-made window refurbishment. Nina’s mother owned a curtain-making business for more than 20 years and, as a child, Nina helped her mum press, fold and insert hooks into curtains in the family garage.


The next generation


Nina took the leap and opened her own business in 2014, taking orders from clients from her kitchen table and working out of the back of a van, often for up to 18 hours a day.


“Customers love the fact that we keep everything in house,” Nina says. “I sell, my mum and her team sew our curtains using the highest quality materials – Mum has such a fantastic eye for detail! – and then my husband installs them. I think they really appreciate that they’re dealing directly with the owners and that we’re a family operation.”


This time last year, she started looking for a suitable location for a showroom and office and in January 2020, Perth Window Décor moved into its new home.


Open for business


“Having a showroom has been fantastic for us,” Nina explains. “It’s a place where clients can view our work and see the high-quality finishes we offer. We also use it as a meeting point, where the interior designers and builders we work with can bring their clients too.”


The company was seeing a huge growth in sales. The new year was looking like it would bring a booming business for Perth Window Décor. Then COVID-19 struck and everything changed.


So much uncertainty


“We were actually in Bali with our two boys when we heard the news the Australian Government was going to make returning travellers quarantine for two weeks,” Nina recalls. “That’s when we realised how serious things had become in the short time we’d been away.”


Nina’s immediate concern was that she might lose her business. “There was just so much uncertainty. I was worried clients wouldn’t want tradies in their homes. I also started thinking I shouldn’t have invested so much in opening a showroom.”


For the two weeks Nina and her family were in quarantine, the number of enquiries coming through dropped dramatically, and larger projects that had already been booked were put on hold, with no indication of whether they’d proceed.


Support from ANZ


But she held strong. Nina’s ANZ bank manager, Rebecca Campbell, got in touch to check in and see how things were going, and the pair discussed a range of potential services, including overdrafts and a business loan, to help keep the lights on. Nina was eligible for a permanent overdraft facility, which was approved quickly.


“Rebecca was fantastic,” Nina says. “She was in regular contact and usually outside of typical banking hours, which was very much appreciated.”


Rebecca even delivered paperwork to the showroom so Nina could continue to focus on her business. She was so impressed with Nina’s quality window dressings, she even ordered some for her own home!


And then, there was a shift. The business started to receive more sales enquiries. Then the bookings started rolling in.


Investing in things that matter


When considering why sales started to increase during such an uncertain time, Nina puts it down to three things:


1. More people are spending time at home and are taking note of how they can make home improvements;


2. With so many Australians working from home, they’re seeing their homes at different times of the day, especially how much sunlight they’re getting, and are looking for solutions to bring more light in – or block it out; and


3. Finally, when considering travel restrictions, many people are spending the money they would have spent on holidays on their homes instead.


“I believe if you offer high quality products and back them with great customer service, you’ll never be without work,” Nina says.


“Even before the pandemic, I always made sure to book longer appointments with clients so there was enough time for a chat.”


This was particularly important for clients who were living alone or were used to working surrounded by people in an office.


“I think many of my clients were feeling quite lonely so they appreciated the extra time, the human contact and not being rushed,” Nina explains. “Of course, we upped our hygiene with hand sanitiser and there were no handshakes!”


And while COVID-19 has seen delays in shipping – most of Nina’s materials are sourced internationally – another silver lining has revealed itself. Nina is now looking closer to home and is ordering raw materials from local businesses. It’s just another way one small business can support another.



Small businesses: doing what they do best


Right now, Nina and her team are in the final stages of fitting out a new five-storey beachfront apartment complex, where apartments are expected to be priced around the $1 million mark.


While there’s been a lot of uncertainty throughout 2020, where Nina and the team have been forced to tread water, she’s learnt the importance of asking for help when you need it.


Over the next 12 months, Nina hopes to see continued growth in sales but is mindful about keeping her business small. At the end of the day, they’re still a boutique company providing great products and fantastic customer service.


Running a business in a global crisis – or any time– hasn’t been easy but Nina’s positive attitude has helped her see the benefits.


“If you’re not willing to roll up your sleeves and put in the hard yards, you can’t expect to be successful,” she says. “But if you work hard, the rewards are fantastic.”


If you’re a small business owner there’s a variety of ways ANZ can help. Talk to an ANZ Banker or use Business Planner to help plan your next step.



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