By Juliette Davies
I had lived and worked in the Bunbury community since 1999 and opened Gravity Etc in 2016. Our facility is a locally owned and operated, state award-winning 2,200 square metre trampoline park in Dalyellup, South West WA.
Gravity Etc was built for youth and community, primarily to address youth connectivity, mental, and physical health issues of this regional area. We’re an accredited tourism facility, seeing around 50,000 guests each year. We’ve evolved into a number of areas in support of local sporting groups, schools, at risk youth, as well as a Gym WA Affiliated Trampoline Academy, including trampoline, tumbling, double mini, and now parkour.
Thrown in the deep end
Until 2016, I’d never run or owned a business and have learnt a lot along the way - how to train and manage a great team, provide excellence in customer service, and how to overcome doubt and criticism from myself and others. It’s definitely been five years of ups and downs. Since opening, my focus has always been Gravity Etc, finding ways to support the youth and families of the region, as well as attracting tourism to this wonderful part of Australia by promoting my park and the fun and unique experience it provides. It’s been a rewarding period of personal growth that I wouldn’t change for the world.
A year of intensity
On New Year’s Eve 2019 I married for the first time and went on a honeymoon. I returned to the rush of summer holiday trade, and the enormity of business and academy planning – combined with news and stories of the horrific bushfires, followed by news of the pandemic. By mid-March we closed due to costs outweighing revenue. The public was staying home due to COVID-19 uncertainty and we were going broke. We closed for the next 3.5 months through our normally peak winter weekends/school holiday season, resulting in a significant loss in revenue, and an additional financial burden due to unstoppable monthly overheads. Like everyone’s experience, it was a bit surreal - initial shock and panic, then an acceptance with a cloud of fear and dread hanging overhead.
It was such an overwhelming time that the idea of giving up and closing was part of my daily thought process. The pressure from all the people relying on me, not being able to give answers, the additional financial burden, and the feeling of frustration, hopelessness, and major anxiety of “not knowing” kept us awake at night. My husband also has his own business that was impacted. As you can imagine, things at our house were pretty intense during 2020, our first year of marriage!
During closure I kept myself and our skeleton crew of JobKeeper employees interested and involved by finding everyone a purpose through online and in-house training, centre maintenance, and spring cleaning this monster facility from top to bottom. Sometimes I think that was more for my own sanity, but in reality, we all got a lot out of, and looked forward to, the cleaning days!
Gravity Etc re-opened in July 2020 to massive numbers of holiday and weekend jumping guests, and a number of major changes to the business in line with COVID-19 safety requirements. I think most businesses would agree, it was a hectic time, re-instating employees, managing COVID-19 requirements, and re-training past and new staff to keep all of our guests safe. To top the year off, in October I was diagnosed with breast cancer, had surgery, and finished my treatment in late December.
After combatting my original fears of opening the business back in 2016, fear of failure, and finally a fear of commitment, 2020 was my biggest year of overcoming fears. One minute, fear of potential financial and personal ruin, the next minute fear of dying, and then fear that I would never rid myself of fatigue and foggy brain. I also worried about whether my relationships would recover from it all. But from fear comes knowledge and growth. Knowing I’m not unique and alone was reassuring. It was a difficult year for many, many, families, businesses and people in general.
Emerging from the hard times
Here we are in 2021, we all got through it, like they say ” together”. I now have energy and focus, and I’m still married! I am exceptionally lucky. I still have my health, my business, some amazing staff, and awesome friends, family and husband.
I think being kind to yourself, reminding yourself of your own strengths, and appreciating the small things is really important in stressful times. Focus on what’s important to you, reconnect with your passion – your “why”. Find ways to keep up positive momentum, and somehow, some way, the rest will just flow if you don’t over think it.
I immersed myself in (motivational speaker) Tony Robbins audios and anything I could find to keep me moving forward to accommodate my passion, my “why do I do this”. Combined with positive thinking, self-motivation, exercise, and a resilience bought on by necessity – my “why” has kept me grounded, optimistic and worrying less about what the future holds.