THE LOCAL FILES: NADIA HUGHES

“You can dream until the cows come home, but without a solid financial plan behind your vivid vision, you're just a dreamer.” – Nadia Hughes, accountant, and financial planner.

"Mornington Peninsula? It's a paradise. Unseen by the world, like a secret garden. Every visitor is awestruck by its natural beauty and world-class facilities," Nadia remarks with a hint of pride.

"In Russia, I had two homes. One was idyllic with pastures, fields, and a lake. The other was an industrial city, polluted and grim. Coming to Australia was like stepping into a fairytale. The beauty here is flabbergasting."

After moving from Siberia to Australia, Nadia graduated Monash and started to work at a local accounting firm before becoming a partner at a respected Mornington company in 2014. She then founded her own firm with a quirky name: Unfair Advantage, serving small to medium business owners. Nadia promised herself not to jump on the modern bandwagon of turning into a salesperson, offering every tax return with 'a value-added service'—a fancy phrase for 'would you like fries with that?' She offers business owners only what they need and never upsells.

"Australia's entrepreneurial spirit is inspiring. Yes, there's red tape and tax complications, but it's a great place to start a business."

Unfair Advantage offers more than just accounting services. "Most accountants do postmortem analysis of the past year. You see them once a year to find out your tax bill. The past is unchangeable, but you can learn from it and plan to avoid repeating mistakes."

The core of Unfair Advantage is business and financial advisory. They help turn dreams into reality by designing strategies to bring visions to life. "We empower adventurous entrepreneurs to take the next step. Education is key; we offer a crash course in financial literacy to help you make sharper business decisions."

Nadia's latest venture is The Studio & Co., born from a collaboration with her client, glass artist Leisa Wharington. "Leisa had a bold vision for a new project, but her partner pulled out. She needed help. I saw the potential and joined this exhilarating partnership."

The skeptics said it would never work—what could an accountant and an artist have in common? "My answer is simple," says Nadia. "If we're the same, one of us is redundant. Bring to the table what other can't, and you create synergy."

In May 2021, Nadia and Leisa bought a large old building in Moorooduc and spent three years renovating it. The Studio & Co. opened in early 2024, supporting a community of creatives with retail stores, a nursery, an art gallery, and a café.

"The process was an ordeal, full of challenges and restrictions. Even now, it doesn't feel real. Some areas are still under development," Nadia explains.

While The Studio & Co. is a haven for creatives and has garnered local support, Nadia is committed to its financial viability. "The project will never be finished. Leisa is always coming up with new ideas. The Studio & Co. will always be a work in progress."

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