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Local Faces: Claire Walker

Story: Linda Read | Photo: Bruce Redman
Aug 20, 2020
“I’ve lived in 4017 for about 10 years. I was born in Wanganui, a small town in New Zealand. We [with husband Ray Kelland] relocated from Wellington, New Zealand about 10 years ago to join family that lived on the Sunshine Coast. We rented in Sandgate for a year, and then bought at Bracken Ridge eight years ago.

We just really fell in love with the area; the coastal feel, the lovely community, and the lifestyle, I guess. I started up my business, Ruby Divine, nearly 10 years ago. It’s a specialist eyelash extension and brow studio.

It started as a little home-based business, to work around the family. I came from a career in operations management in hospitality, and music promotion, and then started this. Here I am 10 years later.

It works really well [having the salon at home]. It means you can give people really flexible appointment times. People seem to really enjoy that home-based feel. A lot of my clients have been coming for seven, eight, and nine years, so they’ve really become like friends.

[In 2019] we decided that we would do something different and take the kids [now aged 11 and 4] out of school, and head off around Australia. That’s what we did for 10 months. Then, at the end of that, we took the kids backpacking through South-East Asia for two and a half months. They were [aged] three and 10. We were home-schooling Munro – well, attempting to.

We refer to that as our gap year. We had lots of unexpected things happen; I took a waitressing job in Darwin, and Ray started working on caravans at one point. It was a lot of ‘throw all the balls in the air and see how they fall’. We’ve done some pretty intrepid travel with the kids over the years, and I guess it was the ultimate extension of that. It was really cool.

Coming back to 4017 was like a warm hug – seeing our friends. But it did take a bit of adjusting. Opening the business up again was great, and I had a lot of old clients coming straight back. Then of course we had COVID, so it was a bit bumpy.

Our new passion is renovating vintage caravans. We’ve got a little vintage van that we’re doing up; that’s going to be our ‘holiday machine’.