I am having lunch with business-savvy Sally Steeds, owner of Body and Soul Hair Salon and Spa, located outside Chantilly’s On The Bay in Port Vila. We have chosen Chantilly’s restaurant, not just for its proximity but for its fabulous food.
Sally first landed in Vanuatu as the last stop before Australia on her sailing circumnavigation of the world.
The circumnavigation lasted for three years, leaving from Australia with her husband Bruce Larkin and their son Jack who was 13 at the time. Their sailing adventure took them through Indonesia, South East Asia, Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar, Seychelles, South Africa, central America, Caribbean, North America, Galapagos, Tahiti, Niue, Tonga, Fiji and Vanuatu.
They loved Vanuatu so much that a year later, they applied for a management position at a local Resort, moving and settling in the country in 2013.
Sally’s life has been adventurous, and her professional life has included a job with New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Ministry with posts in Samoa and Canada, owning a wholesale vegetable and fruit business in Mission Beach, Queensland, and building and running a diving resort in Belize.
Their almost-finished house was destroyed during cyclone Pam. Not yet able to insure their property as doors and windows were not in, the cyclone took out their new home in Bellevue, leaving then back to the bare floor . “We found our water tank a few hundred metres down the road!”
Onwards and upwards, they rebuilt and moved into their new house seven months later, in October 2015. “We love it here. We chose Vanuatu carefully. We want to be here so we were not going to pack up and go. So we could only dry our tears and rebuild”.
She loves Havannah Harbour, “It is a stunning part of the island and we love spending time there when we get some time for ourselves.”
An avid diver and dive instructor, she is looking forwards to more diving in Vanuatu. “settling into Body and Soul and building (twice!) our house took most of our time. Now that we are settled, I hope to have more time to nurture some of my other passions such as diving, horse riding and finally learning French and Bislama.”
With a successful business track record behind her, Sally set out to improve Body and Soul since acquiring the business. “We are big in up-skilling people and offer our staff ongoing training. Part of improving Body and Soul was also redecorating and bringing in the latest range of products. Our salon products are Keune, our wedding and special events make up products are a professional TV and film range which is great for the tropical heat and humidity, and we import from England genuine high quality hair treatment products for curly hair.
On her ‘to do list’ are visits to Ambrym, Ambae and the Bank Islands.
After cruising most of the Caribbean and Pacific, they chose Vanuatu over every other island destination on the globe. ‘It is close to Australia and New Zealand, the people are beautiful, it has better infrastructure than some other island countries, and much better food!”