After years of COVID-19 lockdowns, Ashley Smith has weathered the worst and is ready to face whatever business challenges await.

Founder and owner-operator of Gracia Rose, a fashion and clothing accessory store in Gunnedah, Ashley recently changed careers and is now leading the charge among new businesswomen in town.

“I did nursing and shift work for years but it was too hard while also raising a family, so we opened a store that was more flexible with our lifestyle,” the recently engaged, mother of four, said.

“That was two years before the COVID pandemic started. 

“Since then, we’ve added on two casual staff and relocated into a larger space where we have extra services and more range.”

Both Ashley and fiancé Mitchell are born and raised in Gunnedah. And with other family members also business owners, words of advice are never far away.

She considered ample amounts of resilience and determination as key characteristics to making a good business owner, as well as a kind heart and confidence in one’s ability.

“When I was ready to start my business, I had doubts about failure, but I had an idea in my head and we jumped in,” Ashley said. 

“I’m glad we did because I never would have known if I didn’t give it a go and you’re only going to learn by your mistakes.”

Now a proud business owner, Ashley planned to branch out into other areas not available in Gunnedah while also providing training and work opportunities for young people in town. 

Having faced that business disruption caused by the pandemic and survived financially, Ashley is confident about tackling whatever comes next.

“I’m proud to have a business and have sustained it during the two years of hard time,” she said. 

“Going through that has only made the business here and myself, stronger for it.

“I’m ready for anything now.”

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