This week Ruby Slipper is proud to feature the inspiring Donna Zimbardi from Aquabelle. I discovered Aquabelle this Summer past when my family and I took out a luxurious fully-furnished apartment run by Donna and her family at Aquabelle Rye in Melbourne. It was blissful! And very stylishly designed, dare I say. If you’re thinking of going away in the coming summer months for a spot of sun and sea, I couldn’t recommend Aquabelle highly enough. In fact, Donna has a special offer for Ruby Slipper readers.
Like Aquabelle on Facebook
and receive one complimentary bathing pass to Peninsula Hot Springs when you book 2 nights at Aquabelle. When you make your booking, just quote ‘Now there is a place like home…Aquabelle’. Gorgeous. Here’ a picture of the Aquabelle deliciousness below.
Here’s Donna’s interview:
1. What makes your business magical, setting you apart from other competitors?
I have always treated any jobs that I have had, as if I was working in my own business, always thinking of the greater good, rather than just my job within it. Now that I have my own business, every decision I make is based on creating a better experience for the Aquabelle guest. It makes my business magical to me because I have the immediate ability to facilitate change, action a request or add a touch of whimsy. Our guests hopefully walk away thinking that we have thought about them and how best their holiday could be enjoyed outside of simply providing an apartment.
2. What are your maddest ‘ninja skillz’?
Having come from an advertising background I have collected many skills, some completely mad, from the creative souls I was surrounded by on a daily basis. Creative solutions to problems and entertaining, emotive communications to an audience are far more effective than bland and boring. I genuinely believe I am finally in the perfect job where having been creatively challenged and inspired over the years and possessing a good set of business skills has lead me to trust my instincts, be they lateral and outside the box or just a tiny bit nutty.
3. How did your lightbulb moment in creating your business come about?
My husband grew up on the Peninsula and we, together with his brother and sister-in-law (our partners in Aquabelle) were developing shops with apartments on the foreshore. We talked about renting the apartments out full-time or selling them but couldn’t quite see how that was going to be of benefit to our family in the long term. The light bulb and the little ‘ding’ flashed on when we all saw the view from the apartment terrace for the first time and decided there and then that they must be holiday rentals. Aquabelle’s first 3 years has been amazing and taught us so much. We are currently constructing 4 more apartments just up the road from Aquabelle, with the most amazing view over the Rye Pier. So excited!!
4. What is your earliest memory?
Burying my head into my Nanna Alice’s lap while making the treacherous crossing to Rottnest Island
in the dead of winter on the old catamaran. It used to take close to two hours, which is days when you are 3! I still get seasick even after thousands of crossings between the island and Fremantle. I grew up on the island and in the Island’s only hotel. You could say I have been immersed in the whole holiday vibe from the get go.
5. What would your last meal be?
If it was today, it would have to be the cabbage, radish and pea salad sitting on top of the Calabrese pizza from our local Mr Wolf
in Inkerman St, St Kilda. It has been my favourite takeaway for awhile now.
6. What is your best tip for recruiting staff or choosing business partners?
In our case being related or married seems to be working. There is an inbuilt ‘greater good’ sense in all of us because we are working as a unit. We all have our department and portfolio within the partnership but we are family first.
7. What is your favourite sound?
My cat’s collar bell as she comes home at night. One day soon it will be my children’s car pulling up in the driveway after a night out. Then I can sleep.
8. Who would you like to invite to dinner?
9. Who has inspired you to be a better ‘Business Ninja’?
Opportunity I think. I have been given amazing opportunities all my life. Those people that have believed in me and my ability before I ever did. There is nothing more powerful, to build a person’s confidence, than being asked to do, present or create something, that you don’t think you can, and then reaching into your depths and pulling it off. Each time you break out of your comfort zone, you grow.