As someone who wants to live amongst the gum trees and have my fix of the artistic, cultural, inspiration soup that is the city, I can appreciate the slow trickle of regional entrepreneurs who are bravely saying no to the status quo.
In the city, you’re practically a dinosaur if you’re not shaking things up. But in the country, you can sometimes find yourself out in the cold for eating organic, refusing to work 9-5 for the same company as your dad or starting a creative business.
Regional entrepreneurs have traditionally found themselves up against a general lack of business support and a dearth of graphic designers, web designers, business coaches and sometimes…customers.
Not any more, thanks to the internet.
For all our bitching about the pitfalls of the digital world, the net has bought expertise and customers to our little regional towns. It has also heralded education and inspiration that has infiltrated the starved minds of regional would-be entrepreneurs and made us say yes to our dreams.
I live in Crescent Head and most of my work as a journalist is based around Kempsey, a town that gets plenty of bad press in the form of crime, poverty and racial issues. It is one of the lowest socio-economic areas in NSW, where historic four bedroom homes can sell for under $300,000.
Since my family moved here three years ago, I have watched a beautiful cafe open right in the heart of the poorest neighbourhood in Kempsey. These Mavericks have kicked the old rules of business to the curb by serving chicko rolls from a bain-marie beside their signature smashed avocado on sourdough. Cans of coke are just as cool as coco-lattes. These guys aren’t forcing their hipsterness onto others – they’re just introducing good, healthy food to an area that is crying out for a decent cafe, while simultaneously respecting the locals who want to stick to their deep-fried delights. They are bravely (and perhaps unintentionally) bringing community members from different backgrounds together. Way to shake things up in a small town.
Down the road, nestled in little enclaves, reside probiotic beverage companies, micro-breweries and a little family who started a chai business from their kitchen.
Local farmers are taking the plunge and going organic, aided by a supportive local council.
Beside the take away stores and derelict houses there are clothing boutiques selling one-of-a-kind creations.
There are farmers markets galore – and they’re still cheap.
City-dwellers have been enjoying good food and inspiration forever, but when I moved to Kempsey three years ago, there was nothing but deep-fried chicken, parochial beliefs and same same shops selling disappointment.
Nestled beside these negatives I saw the kindness, loyalty and community spirit that are the hallmarks of rural villages. When these small-town qualities marry kick-arse, purpose-driven creatives, look out.
So regional entrepreneurs, take heart. The revolution may be slow in your neck of the woods but it’s happening, and the best thing we can do is bravely jump on board. By being the change we want to see, we accelerate the revolution for our communities.
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