Silver lining in NZ tragedy

Kari Bourne

EVERY cloud has a silver lining - and this has proven true for a new Sunshine Coast couple from the land of the long white cloud.

After their business burnt down and last year's devastating Christchurch earthquake added to their woes, hair stylist Yvonne and hairdressing husband Stuart Gray (pictured) decided to make their new home on the Coast.

They are now living a "permanent holiday" and have both managed to score work in the same company, the rapidly growing Universal Hair Salons.

Mrs Gray is managing the Marcoola studio and Mr Gray has based himself at the newly opened Maroochydore outlet.

Their journey to Queensland started with a fire that gutted the couple's own salon of 10 years in Timaru, New Zealand, in July 2010.

The blaze had started in a neighbouring restaurant.

Things got worse in February 2011 with the devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake, which killed 185 and left thousands out of work and without a home.

It also forced the closure of the salon where Mr Gray worked.

"It was terrible when it all happened, just a real shock. By the time of the fire we had already been thinking of coming over to the Sunshine Coast," Mrs Gray said. "We felt that something was telling us it was the right time to move on."

The Grays took the devastation of the earthquake as a sign they should move to Australia.

"We had holidayed in Queensland several times and always really enjoyed the Sunshine Coast so it was a natural progression for us to come here," she said.

Mrs Gray said they loved the Coast lifestyle and climate.

"We've just found everyone to be friendly and relaxed. It feels like a permanent holiday here."

Boasting 17 years in the industry, Mrs Gray's specialty is colour but she is passionate about all aspects of her craft.

"One of my favourite things to do is offer a customer a new hairstyle, which is a chance for me to use all of my cutting, styling and colour knowledge to create the perfect look."

Mr Gray said they enjoyed their work on the Coast.

"Owners Sam and Rebecca Penny are doing a great job with all of their fantastic new salons," Mr Gray said.

"We think they have great vision and we are really enjoying working for them.

"We're lucky to be in the same company together."

Universal Hair Salons has stood out as one of the Coast's fastest growing companies - opening seven stores in just under 12 months.

The Marcoola salon was brought into the fold in December.

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