Christine, Owner, Riverside Ranch

Riverside Ranch started out as a horse riding business, helmed by owner and founder Christine. After insurance costs sky-rocketed, Christine made the decision to close the Ranch back in 2015, choosing instead to let their gorgeous property out for holidays. A year into letting out the homestead, a couple booked in who were planning to get married in Yamba, and after seeing how beautiful the Ranch is, they came back a couple weeks later and asked if they could host their reception on the property during their stay. Christine agreed, and now four years later, they’ve had thirty-five weddings, and the rest is history. The wedding industry has been one of the hardest hit by COVID restrictions, and its going to be a while until they get back to full capacity. Christine has been unable to operate normally since the restrictions began, meaning they’ve had to be super flexible with….

Ben and Cameron, Founders, Southern Highlands Brewing Taphouse

Ben and Cam founded the Taphouse at Southern Highlands Brewing after meeting on the rugby field playing for their local club, the Bowral Blacks. After bonding over their love for the finer things (beer and rugby), they made the decision to start the taphouse back in 2016. Counterintuitively, the pandemic has actually had a positive effect on their traffic to the Taphouse. They reckon that Sydneysiders are making the most of being able to travel where they can, and that means they’re ending up down in the Southern Highlands in the Taphouse, sampling some of their finest creations. Ben and Cam managed to keep doors open all the way through the pandemic, also pivoting to a takeaway model for their customers who didn’t feel comfortable but still wanted an ale or two. Although going to a takeaway model was a challenge, Ben says they were actually overwhelmed by all the….

Jason and Fiona, Owners, Highland Fires and BBQs

Jason and Fiona have been the owners of Highland Fires and BBQs since last year, but the store has been the go-to for all your BBQ and firewood needs for a long time. The couple took over the business in July of last year, just before retail sales really started to slow down for the season. As with taking over any new business, they wondered what they’d gotten themselves into! Instead of fretting over it, they hunkered down and got creating new branding, signage, advertising, and online content, as well as bringing on new suppliers and products. Jason says it really was a true leap of faith spending all this money on these things. This all paid off when the high season hit in February, when traffic finally increased, and the investment paid off. Interestingly, COVID has increased their sales, as people stuck at home looked to improve their properties,….

Rebecca, Founder, The Fold Media

Meet Rebecca, the founder of the Southern Highlands’ one-stop-shop for all things trendy and local business. She started The Fold Media back in 2017 and says she LOVED her start-up days. They created their website and social media profiles and immediately started to showcase the beautiful Southern Highlands businesses and their people, and their audience grew exponentially. As Rebecca and the team showcase some of the region’s hidden gems and unique activities, since lockdown started they’ve had a huge spike in traffic towards their site. Small businesses have been hard hit by the pandemic, and many of the small businesses couldn’t afford to pay for advertising, so The Fold kept on marketing as many as they could and continued to do their best to create interesting content for their audience to help as many local businesses as possible. The Fold team transitioned to work-from-home when lockdowns hit, which meant the….

Wendy, Owner, Platypus Dreamin’ Cultural Education

Wendy started Platypus Dreamin’ in 2016 to educate her community and raise awareness of Australian indigenous culture. Since then, Wendy has run cultural programs, medicine walks, and traditional smoking ceremonies for locals of all ages, from preschoolers to teachers. Although officially starting Platypus Dreamin’ four years ago, Wendy has been spreading awareness of her traditional heritage for over 30 years, and says she learned everything from the elders in her community. A social worker by training, Wendy is so committed to connecting her locals with their roots that she often works for less than the price of a cup of coffee – something she is more than happy to do. Unfortunately, Wendy was heavily affected by the recent bushfires, which meant that when the pandemic made her unable to operate it hit twice as hard as many customers cancelled their programs. Despite this, Wendy refuses to give up, taking the….

Alena, Founder, Soul Mamma Collective

When Alena first started her blog, Soul Mamma, back in 2009, nobody really knew what a blog was, let alone what an ‘ethical lifestyle’ was! Nowadays these things seem to pop up everywhere, and Alanna was a trailblazer. She’s now part of a global network of ethical influencers, based in London, and is a proud solo ‘mumpreneur’. Alena says shes amazed at the rate of change and how many flexible opportunities are out there now compared to when she first started! As she’s fully embedded in the flexible-working lifestyle, lockdowns have allowed the business to flourish, meaning Alena can focus all her efforts in supporting others less fortunate. She’s been helping her customers pivot in all sorts of ways – one even transitioned from a marriage celebrant to a funeral officiator! Alena loves her local community, and helps them out by running a local community network for families, while also….

Valentina, Founder, Banter Group

Valentina founded Banter Group back in 2017, to share her many years of marketing expertise with the small businesses in her local Southern Highlands community. It was hectic from the get go, the business growing rapidly, employing eight locals within their first few months. They continued to only employ their locals, and ended up winning the Small Business Award for new business back in 2018. The team at Banter Group have been digital from the get-go, so when they had to transition to remote working it was super easy – although they definitely missed being together in the office. Showing the resilience of Valentina and her excellent team, while their competitors saw a 66 per cent decline in business, Banter Group grew. Their reputation for delivering brands, logos, websites, and social media strategy meant they were immediately ready to help business pivot during lockdowns, mainly helping them leverage and create….

Angi, Founder, Sweet July

Last year Angi finally decided to become her own boss and become one of Australia’s thousands of small business owners. She founded Sweet July, and started offering three different services: ready to go gifts, corporate gifts and events, and wedding gifts for goods for the bridal party. Given that a big portion of the business relies on the wedding industry, all the poor couples who were forced to postpone their weddings due to restrictions made business tough for Angi. Thankfully, since she’s her own boss she can be as flexible as needed when working with brides, her main hold up has been sourcing her products and getting them out on time due to postage delays. Most of her clients have been just as flexible as she has, which has made her job creating much easier! Throughout the pandemic, Angi has made sure to take care of her customers as best….

Tara, Owner, Paper Daisy Florist

Paper Daisy Florist began four years ago as a market stall on Jacaranda Thursday. It has grown from a market stall to a prominent florist and giftware shopfront at 42 Prince Street, Grafton. Paper Daisy Florist does wedding and event floristry as well as everyday flower orders and deliveries. Paper Daisy stock fresh, dried, preserved and artificial flowers as well as giftware, plants, pots and artwork, so there’s something for everyone.  The team offers a range of delivery options, and pride themselves on excellent customer service and advice. The store entered the GO PURPLE campaign to keep the Jacaranda spirit alive and support our local community. At Paper Daisy Florist they love to welcome visitors to Grafton and to make people smile – especially in 2020! Plus, what is Jacaranda without a tacky purple cardboard structure and some crazy costumes?! To their delight, Tara and the team at Paper Daisy….

Lola and Jamie, Owners, Stillwater Paddleboards

Meet Lola and Jamie, the owner/operators of Stillwater Paddleboards in Beachport, South Australia. When the duo started the business back in 2015, they originally planned to sell paddleboards locally in central Victoria. After coming to the realisation that sales was not for them, they were approached by Surfing Victoria to run a series of programs as part of the “This Girl Can” initiative, and the standup paddleboard school was born. Lola and Jamie loved these programs and ran lessons and tours all throughout Victoria’s beautiful lakes, rivers, reservoirs and wetlands. They quickly realised that selling the sport was much more rewarding than selling the boards themselves. When Jamie pined for his roots near the ocean, they settled on the untouched gem of Beachport in South Australia and relocated at the end of 2019. Thankfully, their local council, Wattle Range, helped them move their business, but as with any small business,….