Why a labour of love makes all the difference in regional Australia

The Small Folk’s founders Anna and Simon Davis say their roles as early childhood educators helped guide their vision to create
The Small Folk’s founders Anna and Simon Davis say their roles as early childhood educators helped guide their vision to create "enchanting, holistic play, celebrating a naturally simplified childhood".

This article is sponsored by Facebook

The key to establishing a thriving small business is hard work, but the one thing that sets any creative project alight is a labour of love – love for the idea, love for the process and hopefully, the love of the customers for the end result. 

Small business owners in regional Australia pour their heart into their creative endeavours, creating bespoke products that showcase skills honed by dedication to their craft and their community.

And the ease in which these passion projects can be taken to the international stage via Facebook and Instagram has allowed the heart and soul of these projects to spread far and wide beyond the local area. 

The Small Folk’s story started small: a humble Instagram account of a creative side-project. 

Founder Anna was on maternity leave with her third child and was frustrated by the lack of play pieces available online. Anna and her partner Simon, both early childhood educators, decided to establish their own collection of made-with-love playthings and showcased them to families all over the world via Instagram. 

“What began as a little side project in our attic has grown beyond our wildest dreams, and we feel incredibly blessed to support families in establishing spaces within their own homes,” she says.

Through this passion-project has grown a community of mums, supporting each other while maintaining strong kinship bonds a world over. 

The Small Folk’s Flower Fairy, $14.50 - $29.00, are handmade.

The Small Folk’s Flower Fairy, $14.50 - $29.00, are handmade.

Spiritwoods Botanicals founder Nicole Watt agrees that a passion-project is so much more than a simple business.

“It is especially so with small business, which is often the extension of a soul project or deep passion for the owner or owners,” she says.

“For me, social media (in particular Facebook and Instagram) turns my business into a more three-dimensional being, enabling me to share small insights into the heart of the business and the peripheral experiences that inspire and feed into the products and their creation.

The dedicated team at Spiritwoods Botanicals create restorative remedies and apothecary formulations for those who “seek to nurture their spirit and wish to reclaim their intimate conversation with nature and her primitive simplicity”.

Nicole’s thoughtful approach to her products, inspired by her gratitude for her other-worldly Tasmanian surrounds, combine to create a bespoke range ideal for self-care rituals. 

One of her best selling products, Arms of Morpheus Aromatic Pillow Mist, encapsulates this approach. Containing natural Tasmanian lavender extracts, this harmonising mist can be used for the body or home in creating a peaceful environment for relaxation. 

Nicole channels her mindful approach to her craft through her careful selection of natural, sustainable ingredients in Spiritwoods Botanicals. 

Spiritwood Botanicals’ Arms of Morpheus Aromatic Pillow Mist, $32.00, has local Tasmanian lavender extracts

Spiritwood Botanicals’ Arms of Morpheus Aromatic Pillow Mist, $32.00, has local Tasmanian lavender extracts

“Through this venture, I wish to restore a world where time is slowed and actions are purposeful; where there is no place for extraneous ingredients, mass-production, fad components or synthetic substitution,” she says.

Aboriginal elder Kylie Lee Bradford, a proud Murrumburr woman, shares this vision of made-with-love products that sidestep unsustainable mass-production and instead focus on an organic approach.

After her young children developed skin irritations from fabrics that had been grown and dyed with toxic chemicals, Kylie set out to change the baby clothing space. 

Kakadu Tiny Tots was born. The team create organic baby and children’s clothing featuring hand-painted art and designs. Facebook has allowed this indigenous company based in the NT to reach customers all over the country. 

The team behind Kakadu Tiny Tots spread the love further than just their handmade production techniques. Kakadu Tiny Tots champion a community of ‘Eco Sellers’ – entrepreneurs who can build a micro-business under the Kakadu Organics brand to help give back to indigenous communities. The aim is to build sustainable communities and reduce indigenous poverty. 

Purchase a little piece of the love with Kakadu Tiny Tots’ Bush Candles, hand-made from Australian natural soy candles and imbued with native Australian scents to create an outback experience, wherever you are.

Kakadu Tiny Tots’ Bush Candles, $29.95, are hand-poured.

Kakadu Tiny Tots’ Bush Candles, $29.95, are hand-poured.

The savvy duo behind Noel & Gladys also champions a thoughtful approach to retail that focuses on ‘conscious living’ – advocating a sustainable environment for both their stockists and their customers. 

Noel & Gladys was founded by Anna Heyligers and Luke Fordyce, who work exclusively with small-scale makers who share beliefs in ethical production, environmental issues and human rights.

The result is a store carefully curated with heart and soul; creating bonds between the owners and customers no matter what the distance. The pair says Instagram has been beneficial in cultivating these relationships.

“We love the way we can connect with people all around the world through one little app,” says Anna. 

Noel & Gladys’ Ceramic Mug, $65.00, are a perfect pressie for the tea or coffee lover in your life.

Noel & Gladys’ Ceramic Mug, $65.00, are a perfect pressie for the tea or coffee lover in your life.

“We are constantly using our Instagram messages to keep in touch with our local customers who ask us questions or ask us to put products aside until they can come in to purchase. We have developed true relationships with so many of our in-store customers and we love it when they share scenes in their stories using our products or in our store, it’s such a buzz.”

Same-sex couple Tara Baker and Arlia Hassell agree. The pair is the founders of Dancing With Her Magazine, a celebration of women in love. The pair say building a like-minded community on Instagram has been pivotal to their magazine’s success. 

“We want people to feel like they are a part of the Dancing With Her story because they absolutely are,” Arlia says. 

“On Instagram, we can be a part of wider conversations that affect our LGBTQ+ community outside of the wedding space and we get the opportunity to be involved in engagements and weddings across the globe through social media.”

The pair originally founded the loved-up project on Instagram after noticing a gap in the wedding magazine market for same-sex relationships. They aim to empower women in love to be proud to join the institution of marriage and to feel welcomed and celebrated as couples in the community. 

“Without Instagram, I don’t think Dancing With Her would exist - and what a sad thought that is! The reach it’s allowed us to have from day one really has been incredible,” says Tara. 

Dancing With Her Magazine (Volume 3), $19.00, is a celebration of love

Dancing With Her Magazine (Volume 3), $19.00, is a celebration of love

You can support small business this holiday season, and buy a gift that’s been made with love – for someone you love. Check out the Facebook & Instagram Annual Gift Guide.

This article is sponsored by Facebook.