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I absolutely love living in Oamaru.

I was born and bred here and I loved growing up in a small town – although I certainly didn’t appreciate its true beauty and undeniable sense of community until after I’d left.

I also never imagined I’d end up living back here. It’s funny how things work out.

After a short stint at university in Dunedin, I decided to pursue my true love of all things beauty and headed to Auckland to study and train as a beauty therapist.

I’d just got my learner licence before arriving in Auckland, so commuting was a whole new experience for me – I had to learn quick!

Although it was only 15km to my training institute, it took about an hour with all the traffic to get there. I very quickly discovered how to “merge like a zip”, and indicating became super important. Needless to say, I love the fact I can get to work in less than 10 minutes, including dropping our daughter off to school, here in Oamaru – although I still get slight road rage when someone forgets to indicate.

My first job was in a beauty clinic on the North Shore in Auckland and I would spend my lunch breaks at the beach enjoying the sunshine and people watching – there were just so many of them.

I couldn’t help but compare it to our incredible beaches back home. It gave me a new sense of appreciation for the stunning Kakanui beach, right on our back doorstep.

As much as I loved the anonymous lifestyle of living in the big city, I prefer the fact that in a small town, most people know you and your family and some of my clients even knew me from when I was a child.

I was inspired by my father to start my own business not long after I moved back to Oamaru. I secured new premises above the old BNZ bank, painted the walls lavender and opened Fiona’s Beauty Therapy in 2001.

My rent was $80 a week.

Within the first year, I’d paid off my student loan and bought a new car, something I never could have achieved while living in Auckland.

The upside of living in a small town is that you can be a bigger fish in a small pond, with less competition and more opportunity to earn a well-known reputation – you can stand out in a way you never could in a large city.

Over the past 18 years my business has continued to evolve, from moving location and rebranding to Accentuate Skin and Beauty, to my current dream location Adore Skin Spa in an art deco building at the lower end of Thames St.

The Victorian precinct is just around the corner and we are spoiled for choice with cafes and restaurants.

I feel blessed many of my clients have remained loyal from my humble beginnings with my lavender coloured walls and teal carpet and I feel honoured that I’m now treating the daughters and granddaughters of clients I’ve known for years.

My passion for making people look and feel better has always been at the heart of what I do and my goal has always been to help clients feel beautiful in their own skin.

We have the latest technologies right here in Oamaru and at Adore Skin Spa we specialise in LED light therapy – the exact same treatment that Meghan Markle had in the lead up to her wedding to Prince Harry. Shopping local can give you the Meghan Markle sparkle!

★ Fiona Pearson is the owner of Adore Skin Spa