Looking ahead to 2020 I don't think any of us could've predicted the burgeoning popularity of the matching tracksuit, that the word 'Zoom' would become part of our everyday vernacular, or that we'd be contemplating whether or not to bake our 14th version of banana bread.....
This year has required a super-sized dose of adaptability (and an appropriately ripened banana supply) from us all, but this has been especially so for all the Melbourne small businesses out there.
As a small business owner myself, I've taken inspiration from many other small businesses here in Melbourne; particularly the ones who were able to - quickly - think outside the square + flip business models on their heads. ......Not a mean feat when you're still trying to figure out which way up your g-dang face mask is meant to go......
Here's my list of five Melbourne businesses who have impressed the track-pants off me in their response to COVID.
1. Class Bento | Live streamed classes + artisan craft boxes, delivered to your door
Why we love: A lil' touch of respite + phone/news-free time in the form of some therapeutic crafting is never a bad idea, especially during lockdowns.
Image via @classbento courtesy of TimeOut
Pre-COVID, ClassBento's classes were predominantly an in-person experience, but this clever biz knew that people now, more than ever, needed to continue to cultivate their own creative hobbies + connections with others, so they developed their 'Livebox' class offering.
Here's how it works:
1. Head to their website, find your class, book in your time (not sure what day it even is? Us too...)
2. ClassBento deliver your craft box to you, in time for your class (yay! hello postie!)
3. You receive a Zoom link prior to the class. Classes are kept small so you can easily ask questions and go at your own pace (and to have a chance to replenish your nachos)
Some of us *might/probably are* sick of the sight of our partners by now (what? no! not me..can't get enough......), but ClassBento have made the idea of an iso-date night that doesn't involve the word starting with N and ending in, X seem entirely do-able ;-)
They'd also be great for a work virtual team activity, or something to do with friends (in the comfort of your own homes - no bra required: bonus!).
Our pick of the DIY, virtual classes:
2. Miss Trixie Drinks Tea | Creator of the COVID-pun cake
Why we love: we're an unashamed fan of both cake + a corny pun here at Sage x Clare, so we couldn't go past Melbourne based baker, Miss Trixie Drinks Tea's pun-tastic handmade cake creations.
At a time when our Premier, Dan the Man tells us 'in order for us to stick together, we must stay apart', gifting the gift of cake to a loved one is the ultimate way to spread love, not COVID.
Why we love: Heide is a Melbourne cultural institution (well, that and those delightfully-pesky South Melbourne Market Dim Sims).
Taking a stroll around the gardens, perusing an exhibition or having a bite to eat in the cafe has always been a favourite way for a true-blue Melburnian to spend a weekend. When COVID hit, Heide needed to temporarily close which sadly meant we all couldn't visit for a wee while.
Credit to Heide who quickly responded to the 'new normal' and offered a 'Heide at Home' program to their community.
Lotsa' non-screen related stuff to keep the hands + mind busy: visual poetry + still-life painting challenges, along with projects such as creating a Joy Hester inspired collage using step-by-step instructions, all free + downloadable from the Heide website.
*An entrant into the visual entry poetry challenge, Nhariah Tran 'Inlove', inspired by Sweeney Reed + Ruth Cowan
*Entrant into the 'Home Still Life' Painting Challenge, Julie Milton 'Channeling Blackman', inspired by Charles Blackman
*Joy Hester's 'Girl Holding Flowers' was used as the reference for people to create their collage at home
Participants were asked to share their creations on Instagram using the hashtag #heidiathome; a fun + interactive way to create + share your creativity with other like-minded souls.
I can't wait to get back to Heide + get my culture back on soon!
4. Providoor | Meals by Melbourne's best restaurants, delivered to you
Why we love: A night off cooking spag bol, with chef-made meals delivered to your door, and eaten on your couch? Zero convincing required on my behalf.
It's hard to imagine now *actually* going out for dinner. What to wear? Shoes?
I really miss dining out (ok. I miss not having to do the dishes more), but thank the culinary-stars that Providoor can now bring our city's best restaurants straight to our locked-down doors.
All you have to do is heat, plate + piggily devour.
Oh, and get someone else to do the dishes while you're at it.
Pick of the bunch: Supernormal (hello my old friend, the cult classic, New England Lobster rolls. Mmmmm).
*Image courtesy of Broadsheet. Andrew McConnell , owner of the Flinders Lane eatery Supernormal, credits their popularity to the fact they're "a little bit of luxury without having to over-commit". Right on!
5. Lightspace Yoga | Online yoga + meditation classes
Why we love: At a time when self-care needs are at an all-time high, Lightspace has come to the lounge room party with their impressive array of online yoga + meditation classes.
This Melbourne-based yoga studio (that Sage x Clare had the honour of designing one of their studios!), gets 5 x Warrior Pose high-fives for their ability to flex their business to meet the market.
Pre-COVID, Lightspace's classes were all in-studio, it was during the first Melbourne lockdown they worked super hard to quickly build an impressive online platform, assisting their band of loyal yogi's to maintain their practice.
Now boasting over 1,500 classes, it's a practical + convenient way to get your Zen on, especially when tensions may be running a lil' higher than usual.
Whilst being in their light-filled studios is, for some, the ideal, being able to keep up your yoga + meditation practice at home is a very close second - especially when the kids, dog, cat + 5,232 lego pieces, strewn all over the floor, can join in too.....right?
Whilst many small businesses around Australia have had to pivot during COVID, it's particularly affected those based in Melbourne (due to our sustained lockdowns). During this period I've consistently witnessed the small business community here in Melbourne do a bloody fabulous job at adapting + keeping their clever heads above water. Cudos and thank you - your tenacity has served as inspiration to me as a business owner myself.
Miss Trixie Drinks Tea said it best, with cake: "we musk stick together". Let's keep supporting + cheering on these, and all the other Melbourne small businesses out there, helping them get through to the other side of this crazy time.
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