During the extended lockdown due to COVID-19 in Victoria in 2020, Brimbank businesses showed how innovative and adaptable they could be.
Learn how they responded to the challenges and check out how you may be able to continue to Think, Shop, Buy, Dine Local, even during times of crisis.
The pandemic and subsequent restrictions have impacted what it means to get married in 2020 but local Marriage Celebrant Emma Langoulant says ceremonies conducted within the last few months have a special quality to them.
We chatted to Emma about weddings in 2020 and gained some tips for those looking to get married in uncertain times.
Emma Langoulant, now in her 30s, is considered a young celebrant in the wedding industry.
Though she had been fascinated with weddings for some time, a lack of visible younger celebrants in the weddings she attended in her 20s spurred Emma to explore what was required to officiate a wedding ceremony.
She has now been a celebrant for over seven years, helping couples envisage and create their perfect ceremony.
While all celebrants are there to ensure the legal obligations are met, Emma says it’s the work done before the day that makes the difference: getting to know the couple, discussing the weddings they have each attended and what they would like to incorporate, and finally writing the ceremony to reflect the couple and their love story.
“I really enjoy getting to know the couples and learning their stories. It’s fascinating how people have connected, how people have met, some of the journeys they’ve been through to get together. There are some really beautiful love stories,” Emma said.
When COVID-19 hit Australia earlier in the year, the pandemic and subsequent restrictions meant a lot of couples have had to postpone or reschedule their wedding plans. While some couples have new dates, some are pausing, and others have moved forward with their original timelines and changed their expectations of what it means to get married in 2020.
Emma said that the trend for smaller, more intimate weddings was already on the horizon, but has been hastened by the social distancing restrictions necessary for managing the pandemic. While wedding ceremonies have always created moments of intense feeling, she says ceremonies conducted within the last few months have a special quality to them.
“The ceremonies that I have conducted have been really emotionally charged. The guests that have been able to attend have just been so touched and blessed that they have been chosen to witness that event and that moment. Everyone in the room is really feeling love,” Emma said.
For those looking to get married, Emma says there are a number of ways to include friends and family who may be unable to attend either due to guest restrictions, or because they live interstate or overseas.
“Little things like sending a package to the person’s home that’s got a little bottle of champagne that they can celebrate with as they’re watching the ceremony over livestream.
“I’ve had a couple who we had a father give the bride away over the phone. He wasn’t able to walk her down the aisle, but he stood up, said a few words and welcomed the groom into his family,” Emma said.
For Emma, the initial stages of getting to know a couple are different than they were last year. Usually, she would sit down with a couple in person and get to know them. Now, it’s via Zoom.
She says the biggest struggle for many couples in getting married in 2020 has been not being able to hug their friends and family during one of the happiest occasions. As such, she completely understands why there are restrictions in place.
If you’re looking to get married, Emma suggests sitting down with two or three celebrants and getting to know them: this will help you decide if they’re the right fit for your day. You may be looking for someone with a strong character who can deliver some big laughs, or you may be looking for someone to create a softer, warmer vibe. For Emma, she prefers when people remember the ceremony, and not the celebrant.
She says the celebrant industry is very collaborative, and that if you’re looking for a particular style, there will be a celebrant out there to help you bring it to life.
“We’re a nice big network, we’re always trying to help each other out. It’s really not competitive, and that definitely surprised me when I entered the industry. We are really just there to help couples get married,” Emma said.
Published: 17 November 2020
Indian Yoga and Ayurveda at home in the West
Brimbank resident Khushdil Chokshi has been running Aum Yoga & Ayurveda for six years in St Albans.
Aum Yoga & Ayurveda is all about identifying and healing imbalances in the body and mind using authentic Indian yoga and holistic health system, Ayurveda.
Business includes therapeutic consultations, massages and yoga and is mostly an in-person experience at the studio.
When Melbourne’s COVID-19 lock-down restrictions were introduced, this meant the business had to close, and Khushdil turned her focus to digital marketing and moving some of the business’ services online. After learning the tech required, Khusdil was able to stay in touch with her clientele online and provided virtual Ayurveda consultations, meditation services and even ‘clarity cleanse’ sessions - for those struggling with balancing home and work-from-home life.
Now that restrictions have eased in Victoria, Khusdil has been able to resume in-person Ayurveda consultations and massages for women, and she hopes her popular authentic yoga classes will be back in 2021.
Khushdil grew up in India and ran her own alternative medicine business for a decade in Gujarat (guu-ja-raat), a state on the western coast of India. Rich in culture, the Gujarati people preserve traditions of the ancient past. They are overwhelmingly Hindu. After helping clients with their healing journey and experiencing the benefits of authentic Indian yoga and Ayurveda first hand, Khushdil relocated to Melbourne, Australia with her husband and son in 2011.
Aum Yoga & Ayurveda’s authentic yoga is a combination of techniques including chanting, yogic breathing, deep meditation, withdrawal of senses and Asana (physical body posture with balanced breathing).
Khushdil’s belief that her practice is applicable to everyone and works for all people, no matter their age, religion or where they live, gave her confidence that her business would work in Australia.
Whilst teaching in Australia, Khushdil found that whilst people are familiar with Yoga, many have not heard of Aum Yoga & Ayurveda’s practice ‘Ayurveda.’ With historical roots in India, Ayurveda is a common custom for people in India and referred to as 'Yoga’s Sister Science'.
Khushdil works with clients on a physical, mental and spiritual level. From an Indian perspective the focus is more spiritual where as Khushdil finds the Western world more accepting of treatments based on scientific evidence.
On the subject of mind and body symptoms where the cause is not known, Khushdil said,
“If your medical results are unable to explain symptoms, you need to think deeper.”
“The world of Ayurveda believes ‘where there is smoke, there is fire’ and if you are not treating the root cause, the problem will remain. It could be mental, emotional or spiritual, you could switch a light on from another room but if you can’t see the wiring it doesn’t mean there’s not a connection.”
With a passion for healthy cooking and Yoga, Khushdil’s vision is to spread the word about Ayurvedic medicine to the rest of the world. Her short term goal is to run public events for women on ‘health is wealth’ discussing non-communicable diseases.
Published: 19 May 2020
|Reno and Andrew Georgiou started brewing together more than fifteen years ago as a way to strengthen an already great relationship. They now head up an experienced four-man team based in Keilor Park, offering three core beers and a seasonal for delivery across Victoria and at their currently closed taproom. They are Fury & Son.
Both Andrew and Reno held significant careers in other fields before embarking upon commercial brewing, with thirteen years of experience in pharmacy and three decades in manufacturing respectively. The duo have brought that business experience to Fury & Son and credit it, alongside passion for the product and a strong desire to succeed, as part of their winning approach.
Reopening on the horizon
When restrictions came to Victoria, the team was able to add an online store to their existing website quickly, allowing their loyal following to buy from the business directly.
Fury & Son source locally as much as possible, however they do occasionally use hops from the United States. Thankfully, their supply chains have not been impacted by coronavirus.
With the news of restrictions easing across the country comes the potential for opening the Fury & Son taproom to the public. Victorian venues will be required to continue existing physical distancing requirements of one person per four square metres, and a 1.5m space between tables will also be enforced. Andrew and Reno will be working out when they will be able to welcome everyone back to the brewpub for a meal and a pint, but it will likely not before late June.
In the meantime, you can jump online to furyandson.com.au and support your local family brewery. Mark your calendars for 2 June as three new seasonal beers will become available in a bottle shop near you: keep an eye out for Base Stout, Mandarin Stout, and Strawberry Milk Stout.
Androulla Sakkas loves helping people get the most out of their small business.
After 18 years in the corporate world including 14 working in finance and operations at Toyota, she decided to start her own business: EmpowerBeyond.
She’s spent the last nine years helping family businesses improve their cash flow and better manage their time to live the lifestyle they want.
With the coronavirus restrictions impacting businesses across Victoria, Androulla has been helping her clients move their operations online. She made EmpowerBeyond’s services available on the web three years ago with the support of her own business mentor.
Androulla can now guide clients through the process and help ease nerves around adopting new technologies for the first time.
What are some of the things a mentor can help you with?
Business owners may need different mentors at different stages of their business. Who you approach will depend on what you want to achieve.
“The core issue that people come to me for is cash flow. They’re struggling to have regular cash flow coming through and they want to know why and where are the opportunities for them to be able to generate more income and stay afloat.
“The other thing is that they’re overworked and overwhelmed. They’ve got so much to do, from delivering the product/service to sales and marketing, doing the finances, recruiting and running the day to day operations of the business,” Androulla said.
Being able to discuss short and long term business goals with a professional may help you clarify whether your day-to-day actions are helping you achieve your long-term goals.
Androulla said a business mentor can show you how to view opportunities in the market and within your own business and how to capitalise on them.
Approaching a mentor
You can check whether a mentor offers a complimentary initial consultation, to make sure you and the mentor are a right fit.
“You’re going to be sharing private information about your business with me. I want the person to feel comfortable and trust that they can be open so that I can best serve their needs. It’s very important that your mentor can relate to you and that you feel comfortable with your mentor,” Androulla said.
Androulla suggests you will want to ask the mentor what expertise and knowledge they have, who they have worked with, the kinds of problems they’ve helped their clients overcome, and the outcomes those clients have achieved by working with the mentor.
She said there are three styles of business assistance: coaching, mentoring, and consulting, and these services will vary:
- You may want someone to help you plan, but you do the work yourself.
- You may want someone to help you while you do the work.
- You may want someone to do the work for you.
You’ll want to be clear on what kind of service you’ll be receiving before you move past an initial meeting.
You may also want to ask:
- how frequently will you get access to the mentor,
- will they be working with you directly,
- what is expected of you, and
- what you can expect from them.
“It’s about being able to ask for help. You don’t have to do it all on your own, there are experts out there who are able to help you, no matter what the need ,” Androulla said.
Finally, she said it is important your mentor understands what you want to achieve personally; your business is the vehicle to getting you there.
“It’s critical to understand what that individual wants and then set up how you’re going to achieve it. There’s not one size fits all and you can’t assume everyone wants the same thing,” Androulla said.
EmpowerBeyond provides business consultancy and mentoring focusing on financial and operational support.
Emma Scott moved to Melbourne from Tasmania straight after finishing year 12 in order to study dance and the performing arts full-time.
After completing her studies and teaching at a few studios in Victoria, she realised she wanted to build a different kind of dance school.
So, she decided to set up her own.
She wanted to create a recreational dance school where students are taught collaborative life skills: to help one another, to build up each other’s confidence, and to cheer for everyone as they do their best.
Now in its fifth year, Emma says ELS School of Dance is all that and more.
With 280 students attending classes earlier this year, Emma teaches students from young children to adults in a warm and supportive environment.
She says watching her students take the initiative to help one another is really special.
When the coronavirus restrictions first came into place for Kealba, the ELS School of Dance team was on a two week holiday period. They quickly moved to pre-recording classes to share on the school’s YouTube channel to help parents keep their children engaged.
They then set about working out how to create online classes for the next school term.
“My staff and I had to come up with new ways of teaching and how to do it from our homes so that was a big learning experience,” Emma said.
The school had a brief respite in late June, but after only one week back in the studio, Kealba and several other Brimbank suburbs went back into Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions, and ELS moved back to online classes.
The week of eased restrictions gave the studio the opportunity to test out their new social distancing processes for when restrictions ease again.
“All students had to sanitise on arrival and then in class we have social distancing stickers on the floor… our acromats and bars were wiped down after every use, so we had extra staff that were signing the kids in and out, between their classes they were the ones going and wiping down equipment and door handles. Just to keep the studio as clean and safe as possible,” Emma said.
The continuation of classes online has fostered a sense of normalcy and routine for the school’s students. Emma said that a lot of people in the community are in tight financial situations, meaning many students were not able to continue with online classes at the moment.
Emma has published an open letter about the difficulties that dance studios across Victoria are currently facing, calling for more funding for the dance and performing arts industries.
Though Emma receives JobKeeper as the business owner, her teachers are subcontractors which means she cannot receive support payments for them.
Emma said that there are a number of ways that you can support your local dance studio. If there are online classes that appeal to you, she encourages you to sign up. Sharing social media posts with friends and family who may want to take classes or writing a review to help others learn about the studio can also go a long way to helping a small business.
“Little things like that keep our community and our name alive. Keep sharing the word so that when we can go back we still have new students coming in as well,” Emma said.
ELS School of Dance is a dance studio teaching all ages, currently offering online classes via Zoom.
Stephen Sumner was made redundant from his job in the week before his second child was due.
|With one week’s pay, no redundancy payment, and a new baby, Sumner and his partner Joanne Buttigieg decided to apply to start a business with support from the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS).
NEIS provided Sumner with access to a microbusiness course, income support, and twelve months of mentoring.
With no funding, no capital, and only rental equipment, the duo created The Compassionate Kitchen, a vegan dessert shop filled with plant-based treats for those looking to eat ethically, be sustainable, or try something new.
The couple capitalised on the growing demand for plant-based options across restaurants and cafes in Melbourne, where consumers and business owners were looking for an ethical indulgence that didn’t compromise on taste.
In order to meet this demand, The Compassionate Kitchen needed to innovate. The team started their business without commercial baking experience, giving them the opportunity to do things differently as they worked with substitute ingredients that traditional bakers would rarely need to use.
“We’ve had experienced pastry chefs come in to work with us and they cannot believe what we’ve been able to create in the way that we’ve been able to do it. They’ve said, ‘I would never have thought of baking it that way but it really works’,” Stephen said.
Sumner said that when it comes to food that is dairy free, egg free, or vegan, makers usually only get one chance to get a buyer’s attention. It’s one reason Sumner and Buttigieg keep the methods of their award winning food so close to their chests.
“People who aren’t vegan, if they have a bad coffee somewhere, they put it down to, oh, that’s a bad coffee. They don’t stop drinking coffee…But if they taste a bad vegan cake, or vegan burger or meat free product, they think that all vegan products, ever produced anywhere, are all the same,” Stephen said.
|Their gluten free chocolate ganache mud cake won bronze at the 2019 Australian Food Awards, demonstrating that plant-based foods can compete and win outside of vegan categories.
This is important for Sumner and Buttigieg, as the majority of their customers are not vegan, meaning that their products need to hit the mark when compared to foods using animal-based ingredients.
By demonstrating that ethical products can meet and exceed expectations, The Compassionate Kitchen aims to teach customers that they don’t have to miss out on their favourite tastes or textures when choosing to eat ethically or sustainably.
|“It’s very difficult to get people to even think about changing from cow’s milk to soymilk because they’re so set in certain ways. But if you can get them to taste something first without even talking about any change, they taste something and go,‘oh wow this is amazing’,” Stephen said.
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the business as restaurants, cafes, and hotels have had to close their doors or move to takeaway offerings only.
By cutting down on overheads, including reducing their freezer storage and updating their power supplier, Sumner and Buttigieg have given themselves time to pivot their offering.
They’re now looking to supply their treats to a home-bound consumer audience.
The team will soon be launching a new do-it-yourself range of cakes for those who love to create but are wary of launching themselves into the world of substitute ingredients. A DIY cake pack will involve baked layers of cake, a pouch of ganache, a pouch of buttercream, and a bag of sprinkles, allowing you to decorate your ethical and sustainable cake to your hearts content.
Selling for considerably less than a regular sized cake, the DIY cake range is designed for people who want to save money by getting creative.
While you’re waiting for the range to become available, you can check out the existing options on The Compassionate Kitchen’s website. Sumner recommends his personal favourite, the black forest cheesecake. Made with cashew nuts and silken tofu to create the perfect cheesecake texture, you’ll need to make your order quickly; this one sells out fast.
The Compassionate Kitchen create plant-based, nut free, and gluten free desserts in Keilor Park for delivery to metropolitan Melbourne suburbs.
Published: 13 July 2020
Jane Ann Koh was feeling depressed. She and her husband Mike had been trying to have a baby, and after long years of trying, she began to lose hope. It was at a low point that she created Jane & Co. Crafts, a form of art therapy aimed at turning her focus to a creative external outlet.
When she first started Jane and Co. Crafts she concentrated on working with event stylists to produce custom signage. She’s since expanded the range to include custom laser acrylics and decals, event stationary, and event accessories including personalised wishing wells, ring boxes, and bridal party gifts.
If you’re looking to develop a new skill, Jane recommends starting with YouTube how-to videos, searching through government websites to see if any free or subsidised training is available, and volunteering to gather experience.
Jane is using this slow time for her business to redesign some of the behind-the-scenes administration tasks to improve her workflow and the customer experience. Some of her clients have downsized their events, or adapted their original plans and requests to bring the event into a home setting.
“They might ask for event signage (like every other event) but change up the wording and make it more of a quarantine themed event. ‘My first quarantine’ is a very popular one for a first birthday during the lockdowns,” Jane said.
Jane says that the events industry has been working together to help each other create new ideas and pivot their businesses to support customers in achieving similar but different outcomes while adhering to social distancing and government recommendations.
Published: 25 June 2020
|On market days, Kate Halil’s morning begins in darkness. She’s out of bed by 4am so that she can drive north to the national flower centre at Epping’s Melbourne Market to purchase her stock for the next few days. The flower market at Epping is where farmers from across Victoria come to sell their fresh cut flowers to local florists, running until 7am on weekdays and 7:30am on Saturdays.
Depending on what is available at the markets and what she needs for her confirmed orders, Kate will then travel to one or more local growers’ warehouses to source more flowers. Kate runs a shop called Floral Affairs in Sunshine North, so she needs to plan for in-store purchases as well as her existing web and phone orders, which could include celebratory flowers, wedding bouquets and centrepieces, or memorial wreaths. It would be a tall order for a new florist, but Kate’s 29 years in the business have her well prepared to meet these challenges.
|Once back at the shop, she’ll spend time checking orders, getting flowers prepared (de-thorn the roses, wire the flowers, change water, and add flower food) and will open her doors, before starting to arrange flowers. Working methodically, she’ll use her collection of vases, boxes, hat boxes, bases, papers, and natural wraps to create something beautiful for every client.
Some days are longer than others. Though Floral Affairs is open until 6:30pm, it’s not unusual to still see the lights on at 7:30pm while Kate finishes orders to be picked up or couriered early the following morning. Kate is a self-taught florist who studied food science and technology at university while working part-time at a florist shop. After graduating, she spent the next decade working as a food technologist in product design and travelling through South East Asia.
|After working some weekend shifts at her previous florist to give the owners a weekend off, Kate realised that she would like to work for herself, and opened her own store as a hobby.
Before the coronavirus impacted Australia, Floral Affairs had a steady stream of weekend wedding bookings, which often involve creating a teardrop bouquet for the bride, bouquets and buttonhole flowers for the wedding party, table centre pieces, and occasionally extra decorative elements to set the mood. Once social gatherings became limited, most of Kate’s wedding bookings were postponed.
|International and domestic supply chains were impacted, causing difficulties in obtaining flowers as quarantine delayed international orders or lead to a decrease in product quality, and some local suppliers decreased or stopped production. The result has been that Mother’s Day, one of two major dates for florists across the country, was significantly quieter due to a lack of flower supply rather than a lack of demand. Less than 50% of Kate’s expected stock arrived, meaning that she wasn’t able to benefit from the increase in sales that usually helps to provide a buffer for the quieter months of the year.
Fortunately for Floral Affairs, they are the key florist for Sunshine Hospital, which is situated just down the road from Kate’s store. Though corporate flowers are no longer needed, Kate’s allowed to deliver to Sunshine Hospital. She’s happy to undertake the required temperature checks so that she can bring the flowers to hospital reception. When she can, Kate adds a bunch of flowers to brighten up the day of the nurses, hospital staff, and aged care workers.
For those coming into the shop, Kate’s made sure that all precautions have been taken: reminders to social distance on the door, hand sanitiser, masks and gloves available for customers and of course herself.
If you’ve tried to create a bouquet or vase arrangement using home cut flowers, you’ll know how difficult it can be to get your creation looking perfect. Just before the coronavirus impacted Australia, Kate began to offer floristry workshops.
|Designed for anyone who had wandered through a garden thinking, ‘I wish I could make something with these’, these workshops can teach you how to construct floral hair pins, bouquets, vase and box arrangements, or even a flower crown.
Kate’s “Real Training with a Real Florist” classes are one-on-one training, after working hours, based in her socially distanced workshop. Kate says that in order for everyone to feel safe, both the trainer and the trainee would need to not be ill and not have been ill recently. For those who are concerned about spending time with others outside of their home, she suggests this could be a great future present for the friend, partner, or sibling in your life who has always wanted to try out floristry.
|You can follow Kate’s creative expeditions in floristry on her Facebook and Instagram accounts, including her creation of a flower burger for International Burger Day late last month.
Published: 4 June 2020
|Sam Cannalonga was nineteen and had no real interest in the food industry. It was 1990, and he was working as a labourer. His parents had bought a small pizza joint called The Deli at La Trobe University in Bundoora, and the business wasn’t making the return it needed to. They’d put everything into the business, and their house was on the line. They needed help.
Thankfully, Sam had a keen eye for business. He realised the existing offers weren’t good value for money and recommended an update to pricing, the offerings, and the name of the business. Pizza takings doubled in no time. Slices was born.
Two years later, Sam opened his own Slices store at Keilor, repurposing an unsuccessful Barnacle Bill’s. Though many would have removed the drive-through, Sam made the decision to keep it so locals could order their pizzas in advance and drive to the pick-up window in rain, hail, or shine.
This decision paid off, “The drive through has kept the business alive”, Sam said, “It’s been from 25% of business up to 50% of business of people ordering and picking up.”
Adapting to the coronavirus
While takeaway was a key component of the business early on, in-restaurant dining had become the norm for Slices over the last few decades. Up until a few years ago, Slices didn’t offer delivery. However when business started to decline, Sam realised that he needed to change his point of view to meet the needs of his customers.
When the coronavirus social distancing restrictions came into place this year, Slices had to adapt yet again, reducing staff numbers, asking essential staff to adjust to job sharing arrangements, and closing the in-dining restaurant areas.
Over the past thirty years, Slices has become a place for multiple generations of families to celebrate together. Sam’s looking forward to welcoming people back in for those big shared moments of joy.
The future of Slices
When he started Slices Keilor back in the 1990s, Sam opened and closed the store himself, served people, and made pizzas. Despite moving onto a management role long ago, he’s committed to doing what he needs to in order to keep the business floating.
Sam says he is concentrating on maintaining the business while social distancing restrictions are in place and making sure that his customers feel valued. That means bringing back the takeaway focus from years gone by, along with pricing changes and new offerings including a family size (15 inch) pizza that Sam claims will be the cheapest in the area.
You can support Slices by remembering to think, shop, and buy local. Sam’s team sends out an email newsletter each week with offers which you can sign up for on the Slices website.
Published: 24 May 2020
In the old world, you could hire local MC, singer, and actor Aurora Kurth to perform a ten minute ode to the life of your best friend, parent, or spouse. “They would send me the story of their life and some songs they liked, and I would construct a storybook,” she told me, “A singing storybook, for them, and perform it as a surprise at their party.”
Her recollections are filled with warmth for the people and institutions that helped nurture her talent, including the opera singer who lived next door during her childhood.
“We used to hear her singing arias as she was hanging out the clothes… she’d never taught anyone as young as me and some teachers won’t take students that young, but I really begged her and so I used to do weekly classes. It was just really fortunate and she was pretty fundamental to my learnings in terms of singing. We did classical exercises but she mainly taught me jazz, and really focused in on the emotions of songs so that I knew what I was singing about and what I was trying to say.”
Around the same time, she began taking acting lessons after school, and not long after, started auditioning for shows at St Martin’s Theatre in South Yarra. Her acting training continued, later attending the John Bolton Theatre School after completing her VCE. Kurth took clown studies early on, and finds that same essence is embodied in each of her MC personas, bringing an ease and light-heartedness into each performance, but never at the expense of the audience. “If it was a Moulin Rouge theme,” Kurth explains, “Then I’ve got a French mademoiselle with a terrible French accent, but she shares that with the audience – there’s no illusions there, everyone’s in on the game.”
Kurth has known two of the people she has sung telegrams for but the rest have been strangers. The responses have been heartfelt and grateful, “There’s been tears, a lot of tears, a lot of people have cried, but sort of happy crying. It’s been really beautiful. I really love it. And it made me feel good too because I’m in isolation too,” Kurth said. “This was something I knew that I could do right now, and I wanted to. I think it’s important that we share our time and what we love doing with people while we can.”
Interested in your own singing telegram? You can connect with Aurora via her website or social media channels.
Published: 13 May 2020
Darlene Ladio still remembers the thrill of her first sale, a fern wrapped in a wicker hat, and the joyful feeling that her creation had a place in someone’s home. Little did she know how popular her work would become, initially on Facebook Marketplace and then at the Kensington Market.
Darlene’s had a passion for plants for most of her life, growing up surrounded by greenery in a farming village in the Pangasinan province of the Philippines. After migrating to Australia her interest in nature grew toward helping others bring the warmth of nature into everyday life. Three years after her first sale, her successes are continuing at her own brick and mortar at Sunshine North.
Building a nature haven
We often forget how important it is to connect with nature each day. If you aren’t able to regularly get out amongst the greenery, Darlene recommends creating your own sanctuary by introducing the wonder of the natural world into your home.
Adapting to social distancing
Green Empire St. has moved its operations online in response to the coronavirus emergency, creating an online store that is simple and easy to use. Delivery is available within the Melbourne area, or you can pop in to collect your purchase at a pre-arranged time.
Published: 6 May 2020
Published: 29 April 2020
Published: 23 April 2020
|Mitko Deli is owned by Mitko and Suzana Bundevski, who started their family business thirty years ago as a small corner shop in Albion, Victoria. What has blossomed in the intervening years is a specialty store filled with locally sourced produce, imported European groceries, cheese, cakes, and freshly brewed barista coffee. Today, they employ eight staff members, support community events and charities, and can proudly say that they’ve watched generations of local families shop within the store.
It’s clear that the feeling is mutual, with patrons patiently lining up outside the store waiting to enter, and gifts of roses, babka, and chocolate arriving for the team in the week leading up to Easter.
Social distancing regulations
Mitko Deli has implemented a new system for the store to comply with social distancing regulations set in the wake of the novel coronavirus-19 pandemic. Numbers are provided for entry and tape is laid outside to provide a guide as to the proper social distancing space.
Suzana and Mitko have limited the number of store patrons to three people at a time, to ensure there is adequate space to move through the shop. But don’t worry if you’re wanting to just make a quick stop for coffee or takeaway: a staff member is available to take orders outside to help everyone get their lunches on time.
The Albion community is one to envy, with support flowing strongly for the local deli’s new social distancing processes. Suzana confirmed that there hasn’t been a single complaint about the new rules, and that kindness and respect has been on show by the customers over the past few weeks.
If you’re working in healthcare in the area, make sure to drop by: Mitko Deli is providing free coffee to healthcare workers and emergency services personnel as a special thank you for all their support. So what should you pick up next time you’re in the Albion area? We’ve heard that the produce is absolutely worth waiting in line for, and the donuts are a very popular treat. Get on it, before they all go!