Home and Afar is the perfect name for a company that sells travel and homewares. Actually, they could have called it Home and Away, but they'd probably get sued.
Many businesses have been doing it tough during the pandemic. Travel has been among the worst hit sectors.
Itravel, based at The Junction, knows this all too well. It had been operating for 15 years before the pandemic arrived and changed everything.
Andrew Minto and Georgette Southam, who own the travel business, decided to diversify. They opened a gift and homewares store in the front of the Union Street shop. Their travel business still operates in the back office.
Their itravel colleague and friend Megan O'Sullivan has joined them in the new homewares venture.
It has been a steep learning curve for the trio, who love homewares almost as much as exploring the world.
A few Facebook marketplace bargains were used for the shop fit-out, including an upcycled main counter that was once a fridge in a cafe at Mayfield.
But the new homewares business wasn't open long before lockdown hit. Still, they kept going. They built a website to sell their homewares online. Now that's resilience.
A Week to Unpack
Asked whether he thought the travel sector would rebound, Andrew said: "The industry will be different than pre-COVID, but Australians love to travel".
He said people would be "itching to get away as soon as it is safe and possible".
"We believe the end of this very long dark tunnel is close, but there are so many factors that can change."
Home quarantine after a holiday could be in place for a while.
Accentuating the positive, he said: "You will now have a week to unpack, wash your clothes and get over your post-holiday blues before returning to work".
Georgette said going through the pandemic as a travel business had been "nothing short of horrific to be honest".
"After 15 years running a successful travel business, it was truly heartbreaking to watch the industry we love completely decimated within a few months," she said.
"It was chaos from the onset of the pandemic with our priority getting our clients, who were stranded overseas, home quickly and safely."
This was no easy task, with flights cancelled and international borders closed without notice.
"Our 14-member team were working all hours to ensure we got everyone home."
She said the business had to "quickly unravel all the holiday bookings we had made for clients, while trying to negotiate refunds for them with cancellation conditions evolving daily".
"It wasn't until months later when we had time to grasp the reality of what this meant and grieve for the loss of our business.
"There were many tears shed by ourselves and our team. Most of us have been travel consultants since leaving school, so the future of our careers was unknown."
The travel team members have caught up on Zoom, where they "talk, laugh, cry and drink a lot of wine" and "curse COVID a lot".
As for Megan, well, she has an "obsession with homewares and plants".
She had a habit of bringing "special finds home from my travels, no matter how difficult the quest".
Christmas is coming, so why not support local business? Check out the website, homeandafar.com.au.