Supporting Local

Supporting Local

Posted by Katie Byrne on 7th Jul 2020

As a family-owned and operated business born and bred in Melbourne, Australia, Wittner understands the importance of small business to the Australian economy. Using our platform, we wish to shine a light on those who make up our unique retail landscape because after all, we’re all in this together. 


A cause close to home and close to our hearts, the Empty Esky movement was created by Erin Boutros and Elle Baillieu to support Australian communities impacted by bushfires. We caught up with them, working hard in Wittner’s latest styles, to find out more about supporting regional areas and travelling local when we get the chance.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your mission.

We are @erinboutros & @ellebaillieu and together we co founded the @emptyesky movement! Our mission is to support bushfire impacted communities by promoting local business. Empty Esky is a platform that highlights the regional towns & businesses that need additional support as a result of a crisis. We both believe you can change yourself and change the world through travel. So we’re encouraging everyone to grab an Empty Esky, hit the road and spend with businesses who lost all their regular summer customers as a result of the fires. It’s really fun and you get to discover some amazing (and delicious) things along the way! 

How was your initiative received initially and how has that impacted your plans going forward?

We had an unexpectedly amazing response when we launched on January 6th. We both thought a few people might join the campaign, however it the last thing we ever imagined when over 20,000 people took the ‘pledge’ to visit a fire impacted town with an empty esky. Two weeks into the campaign, we had the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Scott Morrison who took the pledge. Since launching, over 80,000 people have joined the Empty Esky community and are committed to supporting fire impacted businesses. 

What’s been the most positive outcome?

 So many business owners have contacted saying they’ve had visitors in their shops or venues with actual Eskys to fill up! It’s been incredible to visit some of the towns ourselves and see shops with signs out the front saying ‘fill your empty esky here’. Our favourite story would be from The Bright Chicken shop who was selling their famous BBQ sauce to make ends meet. We promoted the sauce on social media and the whole Empty Esky community rallied together and over 7,000 bottles of sauce have now been sold! Above: Elle wears the Aleksander boot in sesame and Erin wears the Hiolair boot in black.

How has Covid-19 affected your mission?

Travel restrictions meant no one could go on roadtrips, and postage delays made it difficult for business owners to sell products online. However now that restrictions are beginning to ease, there’s been a huge interest in local travel which is excellent! So we are encouraging everyone to include some fire impacted towns in their holiday plans to help build back the economy!

Where can we find you? (Eg. Address, website, social handles, etc)

We have an interactive map to help you plan your Empty Esky trip, with over 600 fire impacted businesses who would love you to visit them. You can find the map and directory at We also do town & business features on our Instagram @emptyesky! STYLE ME ALEXANDRA | ALEXANDRA PATINOTIS

We caught up with personal stylist Alexandra Patinotis, wearing the Honesty Boot and chatting about the importance of body-confident style that suits any budget.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business. 

My name Alexandra Patinotis and I am a Personal Stylist. I started my styling business earlier this year after completing a Certificate of Professional Style and Image at the Australian Style Institute. I’m all about making women feel confident in their own skin and finding those perfect everyday pieces that don’t break your budget!

What’s been the hardest part of being a small business in this current climate?

The hardest part was taking my styling business from face to face contact to an online-only service. Also not having retailers open to source new outfits for my clients. In saying this, I found that during this time it really pushed me to come up with new packages and ways to connect with my clients. 

What’s been the most positive outcome/aspect?

I would say the most positive aspect is having time to sit back and reflect on my business and lifestyle. It’s also given me time to create new content on Instagram to inspire women on a day to day basis. Most importantly spending time with my closest and dearest and bringing back boardgames! Above: Alex wears the Honesty boot in tan.

How have you adapted your business to meet changing needs?

Having all this downtime,  I brainstormed what was missing and what I can be doing better with my styling business. This inspired me to come up with new and innovative ways to create different styling packages and different ways to advertise.

Where can we find you? 

You can find me on Instagram: @styleme.alexandra 


We caught up with The Fashion Advocate’s Claire Goldsworthy, wearing the Gianna Long Boot and inspiring the community to shop local, consume consciously and always consider sustainability.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business. 

The short version: I launched The Fashion Advocate in 2014 in support of Australian and New Zealand fashion labels, and six years on, we’re one of the largest online stores for ethical and sustainable Australian and New Zealand labels. Our Hampton shop is home to a hand-picked range of ethical and sustainable fashion, jewellery, bags, beauty, homewares and furniture labels. As a community of locally-owned labels, we’re passionate about using our businesses as a force for good.

What’s been the hardest part of being a small business in this current climate?

The hardest part has been the distance between us and our community, and the restrictions on our events. Our business is fundamentally built on the concept of community; people coming together, supporting each other, and sharing in the joy of good fashion, together. Our shoppers love to enjoy a champagne or two surrounded by good fashion and good company, and we haven’t been able to host an in-store event to do that. We’re a community of avid fashion (and shoe!) lovers, and the joy of getting dressed up to catch up with each other in the store is a luxury I’ve really missed, and I know our customers have too. ‘Online’ is only so good – and I’m grateful we can still operate online – but I can’t wait until we can host a sustainable style night at our Hampton store again! I’m a people person and thrive on human connection, and one of my greatest joys is helping women find an outfit they feel beautiful and empowered in. Watching my customers walk out radiating and feeling great about themselves with their new ethical and sustainable outfit – it’s something I love being a part of, and I’m really missing that.Above: Claire wears the Gianna boot in black leather.

What’s been the most positive outcome/aspect?

The downtime has forced me to look at every aspect of our business that is unnecessary, and I’ve had the time to review and consider processes that can be improved, or become more personal, or offered in a better way. It’s easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of running a business, and chasing the new season without stopping to appreciate the last, but the change of pace with COVID has forced me to step back and take stock of a few things – all for the better of the business. On a personal front with a little more time in my personal life, I’ve also planted an entire vegetable garden, taken to podcasts, and experimented with new recipes in the kitchen which has been super enriching. 

How have you adapted your business to meet changing needs?

We released a new product, our Positive Vibes gift box. Not everyone wants clothes in isolation, but everyone wants to feel positive in uncertain times. The idea came about as I watched many of my friends and family members lose their jobs or have their hours cut back, or really struggle with the isolation of working from home. It’s been a stressful time for a lot of people I know. I wanted to give people a little boost of happiness, and send them some positive vibes, so we put a little pack together and it’s filled with locally made goodies to bring a little joy and calmness to the day amidst the stress and worry. I also introduced virtual styling sessions, at-home fittings and free home delivery in the Melbourne Bayside, and our customers loved the new virtual take on traditional shopping. We had to think fast on our feet to survive, so it’s been a challenging time but, in many ways, – it’s been great for our new direction.

Where can we find you? 

Our pop-up shop (yes, terrible timing, was meant to open on March 25th!) is now open at 517 Hampton Street, Hampton, VIC 3188 and our online store is open 24/7 at



We caught up with social media boss Indianna Roehrich, wearing the Harlo boot and teaching businesses how to gain brand confidence in the current crisis – and beyond.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business.

I’m Indianna Roehrich, Founder and Managing Director of Simply Social Management, one of Australia’s prominent Social Media agencies. I founded my agency in 2015 aged 22, to help brands create strategic, relevant and insightful communication with consumers through digital technology and Social Media. Simply Social MGT has since grown exponentially and now has a high-profile client list that includes some of the country’s most recognisable brands and names in fashion, lifestyle, beauty and hospitality.

What’s been the hardest part of being a small business in this current climate?

There’s something about this time that ignites a fire in your belly to adapt to the current climate and change the way you do business. I feel a lot of businesses have only just realised now how important social media is to their business to survive. 

What’s been the most positive aspect?

Spending more time with family and having the time to generate game-changing ideas… watch this space.Above: Indianna wears the Harlo boot in clay.

How have you adapted your business to meet changing needs?

Working in a fast-paced industry, our fingers have been responding online quicker than ever. We have had to think fast, react quickly and put in place new systems that allow businesses to communicate quickly with their consumers on social media.

Where can we find you?

IG: @SimplySocialMGT
Podcast: The Social Report, powered by Simply Social MGT available on Spotify and iTunes. 

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