Our small businesses

Simon, Owner, Early n’ Fresh

When Simon started Early n’ Fresh back in 2017, he wanted to offer residential homes the opportunity to taste Victoria’s freshest fruit and vegetables. With the two big supermarkets doing online orders he quickly had to change his business model to wholesale only. Since then, they’ve grown so quickly, and are the supplier for over 100 restaurants and cafes in Melbourne. With the first wave of lockdowns the business took a massive hit as they rely mainly on restaurants and cafes, who were forced to move to take-away only, this translated to a loss of 80 per cent of their businesses in the first week of lockdowns. Luckily, Simon showed off his savviness to pivot to offer home deliveries again. They quickly launched a bespoke website, and the takeaway portion of their business has been the main breadwinner since March. Although its been a tough period, the whole team is....
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Tim and Katie, Owners, Berry Jam Sweet Living

Tim and Katie’s small business journey started after opening a homewares store called Jedo’s Beach House. After owning Jedo’s for years and putting in the hard yards, they decided to sell the business and their house along with it to take their three young kids around the country for a full year of camping. They’re now back, better than ever with a new business. Tim and Katie have kept the same feel of quality with their new business but have moved their focus out of beachware into a broader ethical living and shopping aesthetic. When COVID hit, like so many other small businesses their trading hours were diminished for a while, meaning they had to cut back the hours they could offer their staff. They’ve also moved away from the traditional brick-and-mortar model and created a website, which they were exited about but was super nerve-wracking! They’re now working to....
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Blake, Owner, Yamba Bowlo & Leisure

Blake, the marketing/gaming manager of Bowlo Sports and Leisure in Yamba, tells us that the land to build the first bowling green was approved in 1935, and the original owners borrowed 300 pounds to construct it. Two years later, the first Club House was built, at a cost of just 130 pounds! Although the clubhouse was rebuilt in 1998, it’s been institutionalised as Yamba locals’ go-to place to get together and play bowls. As a long-running business, COVID has certainly severely impacted the long-running business, forcing them to reduce trading hours, and seeing a reduction of 20 per cent in foot traffic. This, after they had to close their doors for ten weeks. They’ve put in a fair few measures to make sure they’re COVIDSafe, to keep patrons healthy and comfortable. These include constant ‘COVID cleans’, sensors on the doors to reduce touch points, mandatory hand sanitizing at regular intervals,....
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Maddison, Owner and Founder, AMMO Hair and Beauty

When Maddison founded AMMO Hair and Beauty back in 2016, the team was just her, a single hairdresser, and a single beautician operating out of one salon. Although they started small, she’s always been a trailblazer, as they were the first to offer a one-stop-shop for both hair and beauty for Maclean’s locals. Our many hairdressers and salons have been hit so hard by the pandemic, and this was no different for Maddison. She’s had to shut down the beauty side of things, but thankfully they were able to remain open for hairdressing, which gave them a bit of income to keep doors open. They’re now back to operating at full capacity, and couldn’t be happier to be back at work – although social distancing protocols can be a bit of a headache! Maclean locals have such a strong sense of community, and they were super supportive throughout COVID, and....
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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....
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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....
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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,....
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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....
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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....
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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....
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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....
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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....
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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....
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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,....
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Tom, Owner, Rubi Hairdressing, Windsor

Today is National ‘Love Your Hairdresser Day”, so we’d thought we’d share one of Victoria’s best salons, Rubi Hairdressing in Windsor. When they purchased the chain back in 2017 the team immediately set out to transform their group of salons. Tom wanted to change the way they operated, the feel of the salons, and wanted to give their staff more input into day-to-day operations. They doubled down on creating a positive work culture with a safe and happy environment for both their guests and staff. Over the last three years the company has continued to grow and Won the National Men’s Hairdresser of the Year award, and was nominated as a finalist in five other categories. Being based in Victoria meant that they were forced to close doors for three months which was especially tough given that their sales had been down nearly 40 per cent on the back of....
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Fran and Andrew, owners, Tree Chalet

The Chalets at Tree Chalets were opened in September 2019, but the property has been in Fran’s family for more than 50 years. Back in 2008 Fran, along with the help of her husband, Andrew, and their children embarked on a mission to plant 6000 rosegum trees on the property. After putting in the hard work, all the trees were planted and 11 years later they stand at over 25 metres tall. As the trees continued to grow and the vista became more and more beautiful, Fran and Andrew started to design individual chalets, and the idea for Tree Chalets came to life. The property is eco-friendly and fully sustainable – their power comes from solar panels while their water comes from rainwater collection. Fran says their motto is “powered by sun, fed by rain”. The pandemic forced Fran and Andrew to close doors for 6 weeks. Fran says it....
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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 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 digital platforms.....
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Einat, Founder, TradeSquare

In the midst of the COVID crisis, Einat, along with a group of seasoned entrepreneurs decided to launch TradeSquare, to help Australian small businesses source goods locally, online. The inspiration for TradeSquare came after the pandemic hit pause on the trade shows and sales events that so many businesses rely on. After being left wondering where to find inspiration and find supplies, the idea came to her, and TradeSquare was born. Built for Australians, by Australians, they’re aiming to be leader in the space, just with cheaper prices, quicker transactions, and easier communication between buyers and suppliers. Their main focus is on the businesses that provide a livelihood for so many of us – small businesses and not-for-profits nationwide. So far, they’ve partnered with child-care providers, art schools, educators, retailers and hospitality operators. As they’re both Australian owned and operated, TradeSquare helps small businesses save a heap of money when....
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