When you buy here, you support here
When you buy here, you support here
The City of Whittlesea is home to approximately 18,000 businesses and these businesses appreciate your help – It’s important to remember when you buy local, you support local.
Supporting local businesses benefits the entire community in many ways, from providing local employment to contributing to a robust economy.
The City of Whittlesea’s new campaign called ‘It’s All Here’ is to support all local businesses in all shapes and sizes - to help recover from the impacts of the pandemic.
The campaign is highlighting the stories of 8 local City of Whittlesea business heroes, who will champion the buy local message and encourage us all to shop local. Reminding us that you don’t need to leave the area to find what you need. Everything you need is right on your doorstep; a toy store, an accountant, a food producer and a cake maker and much much more...It is all here in the City of Whittlesea.
Learn more about your local business heroes below by watching their video and reading their story on why it is important to shop local.
Thank you for making this incentive program to buy local such a huge success!
There were over 3,000 Claims made during the 28 days that the incentives campaign was running. With $150,000 being paid out in incentive rebates for buying local from over 650 local City of Whittlesea businesses.
Through the It’s All Here incentive rebate campaign over $800,000 was injected into the local economy.
Just because the incentives rebate campaign is over, that doesn’t mean you stop buying local.
It’s All Here in the City of Whittlesea message continues. Supporting local business benefits the entire community in many ways, from providing local employment to contributing to a robust economy.
The City of Whittlesea has launched a new campaign to support all local businesses in all shapes and sizes and is encouraging residents to support local enterprises through the launch of It’s all Here campaign and incentives program.
Showcasing 8 local City of Whittlesea business heroes who will champion the message to buy local. Reminding us that you don’t need to leave the area to find what you need. Everything you need is right on your doorstep; a toy store, an accountant, a food producer and a cake maker and much much more... It is all here in the City of Whittlesea.
“We’ve loved seeing the City of Whittlesea growing over the past few years, it's amazing to see the growth and think that we have had a small part of it.”
That’s Amore Cheese is one of the City of Whittlesea business champions who is featured in the “It’s All Here” campaign.
After migrating to Australia in 2004, Giorgio now calls the City of Whittlesea home. He moved the business in 2015 to Thomastown to be closer to home. Giorgio loves the blend between the countryside and city, but mostly loves the community. He says he feels “supported by the locals and local businesses, it’s like a big family to me”.
“We have seen more and more people in the community understanding Italian style cheeses. Foodies and families alike are looking for gourmet experiences,” says Giorgio, Owner of That’s Amore Cheese.
Customers browse over 65 different varieties of cheese that That’s Amore Cheese produces in-house. Owner and operator That’s Amore Cheese wanted to create an experience for local customers, making them feel that they are in Italy.
“Customer service and quality products are the most important things to our business; we want to make sure that all our customers feel taken care of. Even though our business is now quite large, we will always continue to keep a small business approach when it comes to customer service,” says Giorgio.
With over 100 employees and over 65 per cent of them local to the Thomastown area, the business processes over 7 million litres of milk a year and produces around 4,000kg of cheese every day. The business has continued to grow year on year and has no plans on stopping.
Giorgio has a special appreciation for the area and is sharing his story for It’s All Here campaign that aims to get City of Whittlesea residents to buy and spend locally.
That’s Amore Cheese loves engaging with their local community. In 2021, the business started their annual Ricotta Festival that brings in over 1,800 people to the local area. Bringing together communities, live music and the best local foods. “We have loved seeing the City of Whittlesea growing over the past few years, it's amazing to see the growth and think that we have had a small part of it,” adds Giorgio.
Growing up in Sicily and venturing across to Australia in 2004 looking for a change. He never thought that he would still be living here and owning a cheese making business almost 20 years later. Two years before moving to Melbourne, Giorgio worked in a small shop selling regional food products from the Aeolian Islands. After arriving in Melbourne, he got a job in a cheese factory, sparking his interest in food and passion for making cheese.
The pandemic threw Giorgio and his staff a curveball; it did not, however, stop them from churning out cheese. When wholesale orders slowed down and lockdowns sparked the closure of their own cheesery store, the business pivoted in order to survive and keep their staff employed.
Launching an online store with home delivery was the obvious choice, so Melburnians could experience That’s Amore Cheese’s expertise, service and premium products. “We were adamant, from the moment we realised things would change, that we wanted to deliver our product to the public’s doorstep and have been expanding our online store on a weekly basis to meet the needs and requirements of the people in our community,” adds Giorgio.
Since restrictions have been lifted and lockdowns have ended, That’s Amore Cheese customers are back shopping in the store. But all the while, the business has continued to update their online shop. So much so, that they are currently updating their website to include gift hampers and an all new cheese subscription service.
“I love chatting with my customers, learning the details about the event and how my cake will fit into the celebrations. It’s really important to me to foster these connections in the community.”
Ness Cakes is one of the City of Whittlesea business champions who is featured in the “It’s All Here” campaign.
Vanessa has built a bustling business in the heart of her hometown. Born and raised in Epping, she has a special appreciation for the area and is sharing her story for It’s All Here campaign that aims to get City of Whittlesea residents to continue their support of local businesses and spend within the city limits.
Vanessa has always been a hands-on learner, studying home economics and art subjects all through high school, she knew she didn’t want to be behind a desk. Vanessa created ‘Ness’ Cakes’, at home baking business and hasn’t looked back since the business' inception.
Over the last 12 years the business has grown considerably, from making cakes for family and friends as gifts to now where she has repeat customers years later. Baking for engagement cakes, wedding cakes and then a 1st birthday. She loves working with repeat customers, seeing their families grow and maintaining that connection.
“It’s like a ripple effect, you just help the next person, who then buys something else”, says Vanessa. “Supporting local businesses like myself, helps to put food on the table and a roof over my kids heads. It is my job and I wouldn’t want to do anything else”.
Striving to use as much local produce as possible, Vanessa sources ingredients like eggs from a local farm. She says that she doesn’t have to go far to get what she needs, and her location is perfect and gives her the opportunity to support other local businesses like herself.
After living and working in the City of Whittlesea for over 40 years and owning a bustling business for 12 years, wouldn’t see herself in any other area. She says her kids don’t love going to the shops with her as she always wants to have a chat and catch up with friends and customers. Some weeks, Vanessa can make up to 14 cakes, which means up to 14 people can be at her house picking up her creations.
“I love chatting with my customers, learning the details about the event and how my cake will fit into the celebrations. It’s really important to me to foster these connections in the community and know what my customers are after,” says Vanessa.
In 2014, Vanessa joined the Australian Cake Angels, which delivers unique, personalised cakes to sick and disadvantaged children and their families. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to give back, it’s better than any award. There is nothing like seeing a kid's face light up when delivering a Spiderman cake”. Over the years, Vanessa’s cakes have also featured on the Food Network’s Ace of Cakes, which is something Vanessa covets.
Vanessa loves making cakes from home and the flexibility it gives her to spend time with her children, while her life might be busy and hectic from day to day, she wouldn’t change it for anything.
“Most of the local business owners that I know are locals themselves. They live here, play sport here, and their kids go to school here. They shop here themselves.”
Charlie Horse Toy store is one of the City of Whittlesea business champions who is featured in the “It’s All Here” campaign.
Nicola the owner and operator of Charlie Horse Toys in Whittlesea has called the area her home for over 20 years. After getting her Diploma of Teaching from Melbourne University she knew she always loved children’s toys. It is something she knows well and had used while she was teaching and with her own children growing up.
For Nicola, to open a toy store in her hometown with her children going to school locally seemed a perfect thing to do.
“The Toy Store is growing every day. It started in my spare room at home and was just online. I would love to open a second store one day.” Nicola said.
The store in the Whittlesea main street opened just before COVID started. During the lockdowns, so many locals and customers would stop at the shop door to check in on Nicola. During those times Charlie Horse Toy Store was doing click and collect. Nicola felt such a sense of community saying a lot of people that don’t normally shop in Whittlesea, but live there, found the store for the first time.
“There is so much support in Whittlesea. I wouldn’t want to move the store anywhere else.”
Nicola’s dream is for a future of a more sustainable community, that she believes she fosters with her toy store. Less throw away plastic stuff and more thought about what we are buying and why.
“With Gia, I wanted to create an inclusive space for the community here in the City of Whittlesea, where we celebrate and embrace our differences.”
Gia Pilates is one of the City of Whittlesea business champions who is featured in the “It’s All Here” campaign.
As a business- and homeowner in the City of Whittlesea, Georgia’s passion to give back to the community is infectious.
Pacing among reformers, as music from Ziggy Alberts and Beyonce plays from the speakers, she guides ten clients in the long stretch, an exercise in which every muscle in the body is tensed.
“To deeply understand how to relax, we have to learn how to keep our muscles tensed,” she says, referring to a core belief of Joseph Pilates, the founder of Pilates.
Georgia is the owner and operator of Gia Pilates Studio in Doreen, which just celebrated its first anniversary. This hasn’t been an easy task considering the topsy turvy two years the state of Victoria has had to endure.
During the pandemic, when many sought sourdough and starter kits, Georgia bought Pilates equipment. She started to work out. And she started streaming her sessions because she believed every single person can find joy even through the toughest times.
For the last 15 months, Georgia has done just that with her flagship studio along Yellow Brick Road in Doreen. Locals in the City of Whittlesea describe Gia Pilates as a breath of fresh air, a place for self and for connection.
“I realised people were travelling from Doreen to Montmorency for a 45-minute Pilates class,” Georgia said in a video interview from her home in Doreen. “Sometimes it would take them three hours with traffic to get there and back - that was half a day!”
“I wanted to celebrate the movement of the human body, and bring that to Doreen and the wider community,” she said. “Movement looks different for everyone, and it doesn’t matter if yours is different from the next person. With Gia, I wanted to create an inclusive space for the community here in the City of Whittlesea, where we celebrate and embrace our differences.”
And locals love what Georgia is doing. “So many from the community keep returning because they tell me Gia is their ‘happy place’,” she recounted. “That really is heart-warming, and I’m terribly humbled by their love and support.”
Getting Gia off the ground has not been smooth sailing. The first studio opened during the pandemic; classes could not run during the lockdowns in Victoria. There were moments of uncertainty, and she questioned her decision to strike out on her own.
Throughout, when there seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel for her, she just “kept sticking with it”.
“There's always something to do next, there's someone who’s been left out whom I can help,” she said.
Georgia studied law and commerce at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Victoria. When she wasn’t in class, she worked part-time in a gym. “Growing up I was really active in sport and fitness,” she said. “I’ve always believed you can get stronger and also have fun.” So, once she had obtained her Certificate III and IV in Fitness, she started her own business running weekend boot camps.
The rest naturally fell into place: Upon graduation, she chose Pilates over a desk-bound job that awaited her. At the suggestion of a friend, who was opening a studio, she took on the job of managing the business and teaching Pilates.
Today, walking into a class at Gia is stepping into a sun-drenched space filled with warm touches and an unassuming vibe*.
Georgia and the nine other instructors focus on the clients, creating a wellness oasis, where it's about the individual and what they can achieve. “I wanted to create a more personalised experience for every person who walked through our doors,” she beamed.
“I choose to celebrate the people and find ways to make them feel great. Pilates does that – you see the progress you’ve made because you've pushed yourself and done it on your own. That’s truly empowering.”
*To cater to more clients, especially with her Doreen studio running at capacity, Georgia will be opening a second studio in Mill Park later this year.
“There is no reason for us to be going to bigger cities. Everything you need is already in the City of Whittlesea. I am a big believer in keeping my business local and supporting local businesses.”
Quest Bundoora is one of the City of Whittlesea business champions who is featured in the “It’s All Here” campaign.
Mark, owner of the Quest Bundoora and Quest Epping hotels in the City of Whittlesea area, has been running a tight-knit business alongside his wife Ky for the past fifteen years. Most of their employees are local to the City of Whittlesea and have been working in the business for over a decade.
After moving to the City of Whittlesea ten years ago, Mark established Quest Bundoora in the peaceful and welcoming location of University Hill. Since then, he has expanded the business with two additional hotels opened in the district in the last five years.
For Mark, having access to a great location and collaborating with other local businesses are some of the key elements that help set his business apart from the competition.
“I am a big fan of supporting the community and other local businesses. This is why at Quest, we collaborate with the majority of the restaurants, services and tourist attractions in the area to make sure our guests experience the best stay while travelling to the City of Whittlesea”.
Often employees tend to be quite distant from their bosses, both in a figuratively and in a physical sense. Therefore, it is truly special to have the opportunity to speak to a business owner with such a strong and close relationship with his staff to consider them as part of his family.
“My biggest satisfaction comes from seeing my staff achieve professional and personal milestones. Some of my employees have been working with me for over ten years, moving up from housekeeping all the way to property management. There is no greater joy than seeing them able to buy a house or build a family while working under our direction at Quest.”
With years of experience under his belt in the hospitality industry as a chef and a passion for entrepreneurship, Mark always longed to take control of his career by becoming a business owner. Becoming a franchisee for Quest in 2005 gave him the opportunity to create a flourishing business deeply rooted in the community.
When talking about his clientele, Mark paints the perfect picture of a long-established relationship with customers who keep coming back time and time again.
“Being a medium-sized business, we can give our customers the care and attention they deserve and it’s rewarding to see many visiting us year after year. They love our staff and being able to receive the same great level of service every time they stay at one of our hotels is what everyone truly appreciates.”
With no intention to move out of the City of Whittlesea district any time soon, Mark recommends any other local residents who are thinking about starting a business in the region to do so.
“I am glad to have moved and built my life here. The area has great potential as it's set in a rapidly developing community.”
“There is no reason for us to be going to bigger cities. Everything you need is already in the City of Whittlesea. I am a big believer in keeping my business local and supporting local businesses, as you are not only helping your neighbours but, by utilising local products and services, you're also reducing your carbon footprint.”
“Creating a sustainable business has always been a passion of mine… it’s reassuring to see customers make the choice of supporting a local sustainable business as a way of looking out for their kids and the community.”
Eco-Green Care is one of the City of Whittlesea business champions who is featured in the “It’s All Here” campaign.
Since opening Eco-Green Care in 2018, Stuart has established his name in the City of Whittlesea area as one of the first sustainable gardeners in Australia. His passion for the environment and for creating a zero-emissions enterprise comes from a deeper desire to leave a better and cleaner environment for future generations.
After attending university and working behind a desk throughout his 30s, Stuart Griffiths knew he needed to return to a hands-on career that could get him out of the house and back in the community.
“Creating a sustainable business has always been a passion of mine but being a father has been the biggest incentive. It’s reassuring to see customers make the choice of supporting a local sustainable business as a way of looking out for their kids and the community.”
Eco Green Care can lay claim to being the first gardening maintenance business in the country to receive a carbon neutral certification. In addition to running exclusively on zero emissions equipment, powered by renewable energy sources, Stuart also offers organic gardening services and strives to employ local contractors to reduce transport emissions.
While it was challenging to be able to maintain relationships during the several lockdowns, he strived to build personal connections whenever possible.
“I’ve learnt it isn’t enough to just be good at what you do. Surely a big part is offering my clients the service they need but building personal relationships with people and the community has shown that this goes a long way. It can be tricky because this industry has a lot of competition and often with larger organisations, so it’s important to offer something that sets you apart from everyone else.”
If his strong work ethic wasn’t impressive enough, his next business goal involves changing his local community approach to sustainability, by leading the way in embracing eco-friendly practices.
“I always strive to source environmentally sustainable services and contractors within my business, which is unusual considering it’s an industry still heavily reliant on fossil fuels.”
“Working in collaboration with the local council and the community, I hope in the next few years to play a part in making much needed changes from an environmental perspective at a local level,” he offered. “It’s time people start realising the importance of taking steps towards becoming carbon neutral, even as a household.”
“There are days that I don’t need to leave the City of Whittlesea as it’s all here.”
Bryce has lived in the City of Whittlesea his whole life and is now bringing up his family there as well. You don’t get more local than Bryce – his whole life revolves around being a local – born and raised, met his wife, built his family home and had his kids – all in the City of Whittlesea.
It wasn’t surprising when Bryce opened up his own business called BK Finance locally in 2007, not just because it is close to home, but it is close to everywhere.
BK finance provides personalised Finance Services. BK is a rapidly developing boutique accounting and taxation service provider to small and medium sized businesses in all industries across Melbourne. Even though the business is making its mark across Victoria still many of its clients are local to the City of Whittlesea.
“You earn the respect of others by starting with respecting the locality and community around you.”
LimeLite is one of the City of Whittlesea business champions who is featured in the “It’s All Here” campaign.
Since LimeLite’s inception, the Hearne family have called the City of Whittlesea home. Launched in 2001, Paul and Helen started their lighting design and manufacturing company in their home. Testing new products at night alongside their kids and chickens.
After investing in their first factory in Thomastown in 2008, they purchased the factory next door during an expansion in 2018, now residing in 1600sqm of factory space. Keeping the business in the City of Whittlesea made the most sense to Paul, to cut down delivery times and wait times for customers by sourcing suppliers in the surrounding areas.
“Light guides people through a place and can tell a powerful story, it’s not just about hitting a switch on a wall, it’s beautiful,” said Paul Hearne, Founder and Managing Director of LimeLite.
Working on a range of expansive projects from hospitals, schools, prisons, police stations and universities, the team at LimeLite have even sunk their teeth into any work that local businesses need; there is no project too big or too small.
Paul Hearne has been in the lighting industry for over 40 years, getting his start in the industry working on Parliament House building light boxes. He moved around in sales and cost automation departments over the years. Always striving for innovation, solving problems and creating products to fill gaps in the market.
“Do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it,” he says, showcasing the businesses core beliefs of trust and respect. Running the business on those core principles keeps employees, clients and suppliers happy and accountable. “Trust is essential, if you don’t give great service and customers can’t trust you to get the job done, why would they do business with you again,” says Paul.
Early in his career, Paul was given tickets to a seminar run by Tom Hopkins. The seminar changed Paul’s perspective and perception of selling and became his bedrock. Learning the difference between the ability to sell and the art of being successful, changed everything.
“Whatever you’re doing, you must like it. And if you like it, you become successful at it. If you love what you are doing, you’re a success”. This mindset has helped Paul build LimeLite. Another factor that has helped LimeLite succeed is the ability to be agile, adding and changing their product offering to suit the needs of their customers.
LimeLite has also taken great care to be a responsible corporate citizen, setting an example for those around them, recycling all plastics and cardboard, and creating fruit and vegetable gardens around the factory. “Respect goes in many forms, if you respect your own business and its surroundings, your employees and clients feel better. You earn the respect of others by starting with respecting the locality and community around you,” says Paul.
LimeLite is undertaking the next stage of their business, planning to expand globally in the next five years. Through the global expansion of the business, Paul hopes to bring on more locals and keep their supply chain close to home, creating greater local wealth.
“Being the first commercial lighting business in Australia to explore advanced manufacturing, expanding our offering overseas while still staying in Thomastown is really important. This place will always be home for us and we’re incredibly excited about what the future holds for us,” said Paul.