Our small businesses

Danny, Owner, Mons Thai

Meet Danny, the owner of Mons Thai up in sunny Queensland. The restaurant started out back in 2003 when Danny’s Dad decided to sell his delicious homemade curry pastes at farmers markets around Brisbane. 17 years on, they’ve ditched the farmers markets, and they’re now a family-run business with a restaurant. When COVID hit, like so many other small businesses in hospitality, they had to pivot to a take-away only model. Although it was tough, the family is proud that they managed to keep doors open – their main challenges was keeping up with the 6pm takeaway rush! Amazingly, as a ton of similar restaurants in their community shut, by keeping their doors open for takeaway they’ve actually found a heap of new customers who were looking to get their Thai-food fix. They also used their quieter periods to improve their dishes. The restaurant makes sure to return support to....
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Doug and Carolyn, Owners, Captains Creek Vineyard

Meet long-time Daylesford locals and the owners of Captains Creek Vineyard, Doug and Carolyn. The couple established the vineyard all the way back in 1994, but the eighty-hectare farm has been in their family since 1909, spanning five generations of the family over 100 years. The vineyard has a cellar door which features a historic 100-year-old pickers hut, and since founding the Vineyard Doug and Carolyn have developed the land and they now produce Chardonnay, Rose, Pinot Noir, Verjuice, Sparkling Red and White wines. Captains Creek employ local staff across all stages of the business and are proud to work with local farmers and producers across Hepburn Shire when they’re creating their wines. The support of their local community is vital to Doug and Carolyn, both for patronage of their wines and to keep the Cellar Door open, but also as they rely on local farmers and other producers for....
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Annebelle, Founder, Fern & Frost

After burning the candle at both ends for many years as a television stylist, Annebelle faced an all-consuming burnout and decided to reinvent herself, studying to become a yoga teacher. As a new teacher she established herself as The Yoga Stylist and found that her students loved the homemade eye pillows and meditations Annebelle would create for class, and the idea of Fern & Frost was born. Annebelle went through her local startup program in 2019, Startup Gippsland, who helped her set up the business. Annebelle won the most improved entrepreneur in the program, and it was super encouraging to see the fruits of her hard work. Since their start, Fern & Frost has been focused on locally made eco-conscious products, and Annebelle uses as many locally sourced products as possible, which their locals appreciate. Since then, Annebelle has been pivoting the business to stay relevant to the needs of....
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Nellie, Founder and Owner, Relish Mama

Say hi to Nellie, the owner of Melbourne’s local home-cooked meal delivery service and online cooking school, Relish Mama. Food and gatherings were such an important part of Nellie’s childhood, and she’s always loved getting her friends together to share a meal. Relish Mama began back in 2009 when Nellie decided to confess to a small group of her close friends her long-time dream of teaching people to cook. After her first cooking class immediately sold out, Nellie was convinced, and she says this was the moment she knew her life had changed. Despite finally doing what she loved, the early days of Relish Mama were tough. Nellie worked tirelessly to secure licenses and permits, while developing a logo and branding. Her husband would work a full day at his job and then come home to help Nellie juggle running a business from home while taking care of three small....
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Erin, Owner, Matcha Yu Tea

Say G’day to Erin, who started Matcha Yu Tea in Melbourne’s north-western suburb of Footscray. Erin admits she became totally obsessed with matcha green tea over her many trips to Japan. She was drawn into the culture while studying the language in school, travelled to Japan on numerous occasions and even lived for a while in Kyoto. She couldn’t resist the opportunity to share the culture and experiences she had with those back home, when she got the chance to open her store in Melbourne. Matcha Yu Tea proudly sources award-winning, premium matcha, sourced from Japan’s tea fields – alongside other organic teas. They provide an authentic Matcha flavoured experience, straight out of Japan, which locals can’t get enough of. Erin is committed to sustainability in the way she operates the tea shop. She works hard to minimise waste, only uses home-compostable packaging and keeps looking for new measures she....
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Mary, Founder, Merivale Cakes and Crafts

Meet Mary, who established Merivale Cakes and Crafts (originally in Brisbane 1997) before relocating to Highfields (2009) where she retired at the end of 2018. Mary spent all of 2019 writing her book which detailed her journey from a 6-year-old girl with a dream, to retiring at 70 years old as an internationally acclaimed cake creator, teacher and mentor. When lockdown cancelled Mary’s book-launch she returned to what she had always done – invested her time helping the community. She has spent the last six months supporting former students and local micro-businesses heavily impacted with Covid19. Mary has offered her 30+ years of corporate marketing career and 50+ years of experience in the wedding industry to guide local businesses with their marketing and media strategies to transition from a hobby into fully-fledged businesses. Now Mary has decided is the golden time to come out of retirement ­­- to lead a....
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Matthew and Tracy, Owners, Minarelli Smash Repairs

Meet Matthew and Tracey, the husband-and-wife team who has run Minarelli Smash Repairs in Lismore since 2006. Although they bought the business 14 years ago, the workshop has been servicing Lismore’s locals since 1981. The repair business runs in Matthew’s blood, as both his parents and grandparents owned smash repair businesses, and the couple is proud to run a wholly family owned and operated shop, just like Matthew’s parents before them. The team at Minarelli Smash Repairs believes in being proactive rather than reactive, as their business has always been about making sure their customers trust them and believe they will take excellent care of their vehicle. Seeing the virus slowly creeping up on their community, they introduced social distancing and sanitizing procedures, and created a contactless repair service which allowed their customers to arrange a repair without any physical contact. Matthew says the well-being of their customers has always....
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Rebecca, Owner, Capital Chemist Chisholm

2020 has been a year full of surprises for Rebecca and the team at Capital Chemist. At the start of the New Year the team was busy making sure their patients affected by the bushfires received their medication, followed by a seven week project to expand the store where they added three consultation rooms and a dispensing robot just before the pandemic hit. If that wasn’t enough, the branch received the 2020 Guild Pharmacy of the Year award in March. Instead of taking time off to celebrate, Rebecca doubled down her efforts to care for her locals, working tirelessly to administer hundreds of flu vaccinations to the community. They proactively implemented new procedures to keep their patients safe, increasing their contactless delivery service, installing a triage desk, and enforcing strict social distancing and cleaning protocols. Through all this the branch’s team of dedicated pharmacists worked extra to deliver medicine to....
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Carla, Owner, Peninsula Herbal Dispensary

Carla operates Peninsula Herbal Dispensary & Naturopathic Clinic from the seaside town of Mornington in Victoria, on the iconic Main Street. Peninsula Herbal Dispensary has been recognised as one of Australia’s leading Naturopathic businesses; and this year the business faced and overcame one of the biggest challenges in its 15 years of operating: COVID-19. Peninsula Herbal Dispensary (PHD) provides a unique range of Naturopathic services. Six days a week the six-degree qualified Naturopathic Practitioners offer a free acute care ‘green pharmacy’ style service. In addition to the extended consultations in specialist areas like paediatric health, autoimmune disease, mental health and more. Peninsula Herbal Dispensary is a core part of the community, their vision being to be the #1 pro-healthcare provider offering safe and expert medicine solutions to the Mornington Peninsula community. As COVID-19 panic started to rise, their patient community looked to them for immune support, as did many new....
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Paul and Natasha, Founders, Holgate Brewhouse

Paul and Natasha founded Holgate Brewhouse back in 1999, and the family owned business continues to share their passion for brewing award winning beer in their state of the art Brewhouse and Hotel; just an hour from Melbourne in the magnificent Macedon Ranges. Much has changed since those days, but their ethos of being family owned and operated has remained the same. When they first started, Tash had to keep one eye on her toddler running around the brewery, while she had another baby on the way. 21 years later they’ve transformed into young adults and work part time in the business. Thankfully, their brewery and bottle-shop were able to stay open during the restrictions, but as expected not many kegs are being produced due to the shutdown. In their spare time, Paul and Natasha pivoted to offering takeaway food and drink services and developed an online shop which now....
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The Whittaker Family, Owners, Adelaide Direct Stationers

Meet Tim, Gaynor, Gordon and Mel of the Whittaker Family, who’ve been the owners of Adelaide Direct Stationers since 1995. At ADS you can always put a face to a name and the siblings all play their part. Gordon started the business, and Tim is the managing director, and he makes sure the same family values that have been so successful continue every day. From their humble beginnings starting off in Stepney with just 2 employees, over the last 25 years ADS has grown into a leading supplier of office products in South Australia, and their team has grown to over 30. The hard work put in by the Whittakers has paid off, and they have received a number of industry awards for excellence, including being awarded “Dealer of the Decade” back in 2010. This year has been a rollercoaster for the team at ADS, as they were selected to....
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Matt, Owner, The Gym Yamba

After over a decade in the Army, when Matt returned to Yamba, he was finally able to pursue his long-time goal of owning a gym. Matt’s gym started out by running beach bootcamps over Christmas 2011/2012 when he had just returned to Yamba from the sunshine coast. When they first opened, Matt had only one member, but he believed in his abilities and their membership slowly grew from there. After being open for 14 months, his neighbour, who runs Brazilian Ju-Jitsu classes asked Matt if he wanted to join forces and move into a bigger facility, which he quickly jumped at, and Matt now has the entire 400 square-meter facility to himself. Gyms around Australia have been some of the hardest hit by the lockdowns, and it was no different for Matt. They were forced to shut their doors for just under 3 months, and Matt did what he could....
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Georgina, Owner, Georgie’s Harvest

Meet Georgina, South Melbourne’s go-to person for all things root vegetable related. Known to her locals as ‘The Potato Lady”, Georgina started Georgie’s Harvest in 2011 to carry on the legacy of the potato shop that operated in the South Melbourne Market for over 28 years. Georgie’s Harvest celebrates all things good from the ground, and is known for stocking specialist potato and root vegetables that are sourced from local Victorian farmers and producers. Georgie’s Harvest got off to a unique start, as Georgina left her job selling litigation support in corporate Australia to buy a potato shop, which gave her the opportunity to spend more time with her young family. With the onset of the pandemic, Georgina had to change the store in many ways. They altered the store layout for the first time in 27 years to make sure that there was enough space for all their customers....
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Paola, Owner, TNY Beauty and Wellness

Say Hi to Paola, the owner-operator of TNY Beauty and Wellness in Maclean. Two years ago, Paola was finally able to pursue her dream of creating a beautiful, calming salon, that her locals could go to and receive top quality treatments at affordable prices. At the outset Paola knew it was going to be a bumpy ride, but she wanted to be her own boss and refused to get a loan and become beholden to big banks, instead choosing to put her savings into the business and buy stock when needed. Its been a tough ride for Paola, and there were times that she wasn’t making enough to pay rent, but she always had her locals to fall back on. She says the space is so eye-catching that tons of her locals would come in to give her a smile, or just to see what was on offer and to....
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April, Owner, Society Hair

When a move from Sydney to Yamba presented April with the opportunity to embark on a new career and open her own business, Society Hair was born. Just over eight years ago, April moved from Sydney to Yamba and met her now-husband, Matt. She signed up to do a commercial hairdressing course and volunteered at a salon where the owner showed her the ropes. Owning a business had always been April’s dream but it was yet to take shape. When Matt told her that one of his clients had a space on main street that had been empty for a year, April knew it was time to take the plunge. Doors officially opened at the end of October last year, and April hit the ground running. Two weeks in, she realised she was a little too busy, and hired another local hairdresser, Lorraine. April’s dream from the start was to....
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Jenny and Ashley, Owners, Eyecare Plus

Jenny and Ashley have been the Clarence Valley’s go-to for all your eyecare needs since they started Eyecare Plus back in 2007. Although they’ve been serving their locals for 13 years, they have an even longer history in their local community, as their partner George has been providing eyecare in the Clarence Valley for nearly 30 years. As the Valley’s population has grown, so has the business, and they now have clinics in three locations, Yamba, Grafton, and Maclean. Business has boomed so much recently that Jenny and Ashley have had to move all their locations into larger premises to cope with the ever-increasing demand for eyecare. They were thrilled with their latest move back into 2018, as they moved their Maclean practice into the historic Blairs building located on Maclean’s main street. They love working in the old building, and the original moulded ceiling and fireplace make for a....
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Sally, Founder, Clarence Valley Directory

While most of us decided to use the onset of the pandemic to take a few days off, Sally got to work on a local business directory for the region she dearly loves. The effects of COVID-19 have been felt by so many businesses in the Clarence Valley, but their troubles didn’t start there. Late 2019 and early 2020 saw severe drought, raging fires and destructive floods take a serious toll on the region. Just as locals began to mop up, they were forced to contend with an unknown and unpredictable virus. Disaster after disaster meant the region missed out on its usual influx of tourists across multiple holiday seasons. Many Clarence Valley businesses and primary producers were hit hard and it was no different for Sally. On more than one occasion, she had to defend her own home against blazes roaring towards the property with the intensity of a....
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Hayley and Michael, Founders, Blanc Space Agency

Meet the founders of Yamba’s picturesque co-working space, Hayley and Michael. Hayley is a professional chameleon, who started off her legal career in maritime and aviation before moving to marketing, while Mick (Michael) is a sports and marketing wunderkind and has managed a number of international events. When Hayley and Michael grew tired of their city jobs, they knew a couple things for certain. They knew they wanted to be in beautiful Yamba, and knew they had to move with some dynamism, and so they packed up their things and took their city jobs with them to Yamba. After working from home for a little while, they quickly felt the walls closing in around them as they tried to keep their energy high while working from home. Hayley and Michael knew they wanted to work in a space that would inspire them as they walked through the doors at the....
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