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The first lockdown hit Sarah's business hard. Now, she fears it won't survive another one.

Right now, a week into her second lockdown, small business owner Sarah George feels incredibly lonely.

Brazilian Body in Pakenham, Melbourne, had only been back up and running for six weeks after being closed for 10 when news came through of the Victorian shutdown last week

From Wednesday, she was once again forced to close her doors for at least six more weeks. 

"Those first couple of days I was absolutely miserable and depressed. I was exhausted. I would wake up and I looked like I hadn't slept in days I was just so tired," the 34-year-old told Mamamia.

WATCH: Sarah talks tweezing, so her clients can do their own eyebrows at home. Post continues below.


Video via Brazilian Body Instagram.

"I have tried not to show my staff how worried and sad I am. They can see it on my face... but I make sure I don't burden them with my emotions because that's not my job. No one really quite understands it anyway, unless they are going through the same thing [as a business owner]," she explained.

"It is very lonely, it's hard to know who to turn to even professionally," Sarah added. "I know the government has recently brought out a budget for mental health services for small business owners, but it's a bit late for that."

The first lockdown hit Sarah and Brazilian Body – who provide waxing, tanning and lash services – hard.

Three out of Sarah's five staff qualified for JobKeeper, and she gave up her own wage and slice of the government's stimulus package to help keep the business afloat.

They watched on as hairdressers worked right through the pandemic, even though they were considered part of the same industry, and had stricter hygiene and sanitation procedures in place as a standard.

When they were finally allowed to reopen, they'd only retained 47 per cent of their clientele. But now, with this second lockdown, that number will most likely drop even further.

The streets of Melbourne are once again empty as the city records hundreds of new coronavirus cases every day. Image: Getty/Quinn Rooney. 

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"The worst part of [the second lockdown] was that it wasn't the whole of Victoria, which considering where we are located is really, really difficult. Where we are, you can drive 20 minutes down the road and still get your services done," Sarah told Mamamia.

Sarah doesn't know how she will cope with another lockdown once they eventually emerge from this one. But the reality is Australia could continue coming into and out of similar shutdown periods to deal with outbreaks until a vaccine for coronavirus is found. 

"I understand why they need to do it, but it just gets to a point where it's like how many times are they going to shut us down?" she told Mamamia. "You're going to go down your main street and have the majority of your shops closed. No one can continue to survive over this amount of shutdown."

Sarah fears a lockdown over Christmas the most.






View this post on Instagram









That’s us done......again 😷 So it’s been a long day (9am-9pm) but we got in as many clients as possible. These girls here have been so amazing during this time, working their butts off with extra hours, and taking a second shutdown in their stride. This post is dedicated to them today. 🙏 Beth, Ebonni, Emily, Candice and Talylor (in alphabetic order) you are bloody troopers 💪and I thank my lucky stars that we are the team we are - especially through a second shut down. The online store is still up and running if anyone needs any products over the next 6 weeks and our online booking is on and we are booking clients in from 20th August and hopefully we don’t have to change that date. www.brazbody.com See you all in 6 weeks 🤞

A post shared by  PAKENHAM WAX LASH TAN (@brazilianbodypakenham) on

For Brazilian Body, and a lot of small businesses, the festive season is their "bread and butter" and brings in the majority of their revenue. If they miss out on that period, Sarah is pretty certain her business of eight years will be forced to close. 

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Pre COVID-19, Sarah was looking to expand and put on extra staff, but those plans have been completely abandoned now.

"It's hard to go from a business that was flourishing to one that's barely going to survive," she told Mamamia.

As well as the financial side of things, physically opening and shutting a business during a pandemic isn't just as easy as popping on an "open" sign. 

Sarah describes it as worse than Christmas. 

"We get 24 hours [notice] and we've got our entire clientele base trying to come in before we shut down and then when we reopen we've got everyone rushing back in again," she explained.

"It's like we've had Christmas on steroids three times already this year and it's mentally draining, because it's not just getting those clients in, it's all of the systems and background technology that you have to turn on and turn off and think of every time. It's exhausting."

Sarah describes trying to run a business during the pandemic as incredibly lonely. Image: Supplied. 

Melbourne small businesses affected by the current stage-three lockdowns are eligible for one off $5,000 grants from the Victorian state government – compensation that Sarah calls "a drop in the ocean." It has her terrified for what kind of money they could be looking at if they go into a third, fourth, or fifth lockdown.

"Is there even going to be financial assistance?" she asked.

Brazilian Body is selling lash tint kits and candles online, which is all they can do right now. But Sarah says the best way to support small businesses like hers through the second lockdown doesn't actually cost anything.

"The best thing you can do for us is to provide support. It costs you nothing to go on Google and leave a review, it costs you nothing to share a social media post. It costs you nothing to refer us on. 

"Just do a good deed for the day. You don't have to buy from us if you don't need it. Just the support and the recommending us on – that's worth a million dollars."

Feature Image: Sarah George/Brazilian Body.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.

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