Shop Smart, Shop Local: A Guide to Melbourne’s Top Small Businesses

portrait of hotel concierge
15 minutes Apr 29th, 2024
Support Local Business written on a sign

We know that in Melbourne, there’s a hidden gem waiting around every corner, and they often come in the form of small businesses. These local heroes are the state’s heartbeat and the reason for its personality, charm, and the sense of community spirit that you just can’t find in big-box stores.

Without these small businesses, Melbourne would lose a bit of its soul. At Veriu and Punthill, we know that supporting these local joints means doing our part to reduce our carbon footprint, keep money circulating in our backyard, and create jobs.

You don’t even have to ditch your online shopping habits to support local businesses. You can do your part right from the comfort of your couch. Just seek out those small, independent shops online, and you’ll still be making a difference. Let’s look at some of Melbourne’s small businesses, the ones that should be your go-to for whatever you need from here on!

Fashion and Accessories

Melbourne fashion strikes the perfect balance between high-end glam and budget-friendly chic. Melbournites have a knack for blending luxury finds with more wallet-friendly gems to create looks that are uniquely them. The local fashion scene—the boutiques and designers crafting pieces that start conversations—is more accessible than you may think. Here are some of our favourites.

Pāli Baskets

orange and pink Pali passionfruit baskets
Source: @pali_baskets

Pāli Baskets represents a beautiful fusion of tradition, empowerment, and sustainability. Rooted in the belief in the transformative power of economically empowered communities, Pāli was born from a collaboration that spans continents. Inspired by the traditional weaving methods of the Burmese people, Pāli’s founders, mother and daughter duo Maggie and Cass, embarked on a journey to bring these intricate crafts to the world stage:

“We fell in love with the beautiful aesthetic of the traditional market baskets in Myanmar, and we since have worked closely with the weavers to bring to Melbourne our range of colourful and practical baskets that have endless daily uses.”

Working closely with local guides and interpreters, they’ve forged direct and ethical trade relationships with around 600 skilled artisans across four villages in Myanmar. These artisans, predominantly led by female village heads, weave baskets that are useful pieces of art crafted with care and tradition. By providing secure employment opportunities and utilising recycled materials like colourful pallet strapping made from plastic bottles and other plastics, Pāli supports local economies and contributes to environmental sustainability.

a collection of various Pali baskets in different colours
Source: @pali_baskets

The team from Pāli shared with us their thoughts on the local business community in Melbourne:

We feel like one big family. We have made so many friends doing big events and markets over the years with small business owners who operate completely different businesses, but we have so much in common. We love sharing sustainability and ethical values and supporting each other. As much as our business supports artisans internationally, we locally source our packing materials, focusing on upcycled and reused options. We do as much as we can in our own backyard, eliminating unnecessary carbon emissions where possible. It’s important for us to support local farmers, businesses and makers over mass-produced factory products.

Instagram: @pali_baskets

Tala Tote

red Tala tote
Source: @tala_tote__

Tala Tote, Pāli’s younger sister, is a heartfelt endeavour born from a deep connection with the people and cultures of Southeast Asia and a profound commitment to environmental sustainability:

“We were so proud of what we had achieved to date, and the positive impact Pāli has had on the weavers, their families and local communities in Myanmar. We thought, why don’t we do this again?, with a new community, where our business can further economically empower weavers and their families. So Tala was born.”

big yellow Tala tote
Source: @tala_tote__

Their journey began with a fortuitous encounter with a foundation dedicated to community development in the Philippines. Inspired by the foundation’s livelihood program, which empowers mothers through skill-building and employment opportunities, Tala Tote decided to bring the beautiful handwoven bags to Melbourne.

By upcycling materials like laminated sacks from rice and feed packaging, Tala Tote creates functional art and contributes to reducing waste and supporting remote communities. Each bag sold supports the livelihood program, ensuring continuous work for the women involved and fostering economic empowerment. Pali’s little sister, Tala Tote embodies the values of community, sustainability, and the transformative power of craft and skill.

Instagram: @tala_tote__

Into Carry

Into Carry bags

Into Carry is more than just a bag brand; it’s a movement toward sustainability and desirability. By prioritising affordability and quality, Into Carry aims to make sustainable choices accessible to all. Their innovative Remanufacturing process transforms various types of trash into functional bags, all handmade locally.

This reduces waste and allows for easy repairs, upgrades, and services, ensuring longevity and minimising environmental impact. Located in the heart of Collingwood, Into Carry’s studio houses Into Coffee, a zero-waste cafe offering no-waste lattes and sandwiches. Through their integrated approach to sustainability, Into Carry is redefining the concept of waste and creating a space where sustainability meets convenience and taste.


Seda Collective

SEDA Collective necklace in various colours

SEDA Collective brings a fresh perspective to Melbourne fashion, born from a desire to fill a void in both the fashion and entrepreneurial spheres. Their journey reflects a determination to break free from conventional paths and create something meaningful. Inspired by a lack of indigenous cultural representation in the fashion world and disillusionment with fast fashion, SEDA crafts pieces with purpose. Their products transcend clothing and jewellery; they’re wearable stories, each imbued with meaning and crafted by skilled hands.

Butterfly earrings SEDA Collective

SEDA Collective’s striking designs spark conversations about craftsmanship, ethics, and the deeper value of what we wear. As SEDA’s owner Denara tells us, she loves being part of Melbourne’s small business scene due to the sense of community:

“There’s something special about connecting with other local businesses during events and markets. It’s like we’re all teammates, supporting each other and sharing knowledge. Plus, the relationships we’ve built with our customers are incredibly rewarding. They’ve become like family to us. Some have been with us from the start, back when I was selling our first collection on a simple trestle table at Sunday markets, using my own bedsheets as a tablecloth.”

Instagram: @seda.collective

Homewares and Gifts

Looking for truly thoughtful homeware purchases? Melbourne small businesses cater to every taste and need. With a commitment to quality and attention to detail, these are some of our favourite places that will brighten up your space.

Emma Morgan Art

Emma Morgan tablecloths and runners
Source: @emmma.morgan

Emma Morgan Art is a vibrant celebration of nature and joy, embodied by the multi-talented Emma Morgan herself. A florist, forager, painter, illustrator, and textile designer, Emma’s creative journey is deeply rooted in her love for colour and the natural world. Working from her sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula, Emma’s art reflects her keen eye for detail and her passion for capturing the beauty of the world around her.

Emma Morgan Art
Source: @emmma.morgan

Using fine liner and watercolours, Emma creates intricate artworks that celebrate the intricacies of nature, from the feathered edges of a mink protea to the sharply serrated geometry of a banksia leaf. With a fine arts and interior design background, Emma’s work is characterised by Victorian-style illustrations, intricate line work, and joyful pops of colour. Proudly handmade in Australia, Emma’s creations adorn cushions, throws, walls, and various publications across the country, spreading joy and celebrating the beauty of the natural world in every brushstroke.

Instagram: @emmma.morgan

Ryan & Co Candlemakers

Ryan and Co Candlamakers "Evenings in Margaret River" candle
Source: @ryanandcocandlemakers

Ryan & Co Candlemakers creates beautifully scented candles with a commitment to sustainability and quality. Their candles are made from recycled wine and beer bottle halves, with 100% soy wax, cotton wicks, and cruelty-free, vegan-friendly ingredients. Choosing these soy waxes means cleaner-burning, longer-lasting candles with no black soot or smoke.

Ryan & Co’s dedication to reducing, reusing, and recycling is evident not only in their candlemaking process but also in their commitment to providing resources for DIY projects using their leftover bottle tops!

Instagram: @ryanandcocandlemakers

Beeswax Wraps Australia

A collection of Beeswax Wraps in different colour variations

Beeswax Wraps Australia works to create a better world through sustainable living. Handmade with love in rural NSW, their beeswax wraps offer a bee-utiful alternative to single-use plastics. Using the highest quality organic ingredients, including ACO-certified Australian organic beeswax, GOTS-certified organic cotton, and organic jojoba oil, their wraps are eco-friendly, long-lasting and self-adhesive.

washing Beeswax Wraps

Committed to sustainability, Beeswax Wraps Australia has equipped their home with solar wax heating technologies, striving for perfect sustainability in every aspect of the production process. Founded by Josh and Angie, their journey began as a humble weekend project but quickly evolved into a mission to reduce carbon footprints and spread love through mindful living.

With a vision for the future of food wraps and beyond, Beeswax Wraps Australia inspires mindful, sustainable actions. Their reusable food wraps offer a sustainable solution for single-use plastic wrap, keeping produce fresh and making a positive impact on the planet.


Tutti Trading

Tutti Trading pillow case and rug
Source: @tutti_trading

Tutti Trading is a vibrant expression of contemporary textile designs, art, and kids’ clothing, all crafted to infuse exquisite textures and colour combinations into your home, workplace, and play spaces. Based in Melbourne, Australia, Tutti’s self-taught exploration into design results in a unique collection of items, including cushions, rugs, wall hangings, vases, and more.

Their home-based studios are the creative hub for their imaginative designs, inspired by the things that intrigue and inspire them. The team at Tutti Trading are very passionate about creativity and bringing joy to everyday spaces.

Instagram: @tutti_trading


Collection of 3 Ficifolia fragrances
Source: @ficifoliafragrances

Ficifolia Fragrances emerged during the Melbourne lockdowns, born out of a longing for connection and a desire to evoke cherished memories through scent. Unable to engage in familiar activities or be with loved ones, the founder, Sophie Marcoux, recognised the power of olfaction in conjuring emotions and memories.

Ficifolia is a tribute to Australian life, capturing the essence of our unique landscapes, people, and traditions. With a premium brand identity infused with a youthful and quirky spirit, Ficifolia embodies the laidback luxury of Australian living. Their commitment to sustainability is evident in their packaging, certified FSC, GMO-free, and made from recycled materials. Ficifolia Fragrances seeks to create beloved products and tread lightly on the earth, fostering a more responsible and sustainable future.

Instagram: @ficifoliafragrances

Food and Coffee

Just Planet Coffee Roastery

Coffee roasting process at Just Planet

Just Planet Coffee Roastery began its journey in 2008 when Lee and Norman Palumbo were deeply moved by the realities of child slavery within the chocolate industry. What started as a fundraising initiative selling Fairtrade products evolved into Sunbury’s first café to roast its coffee. Recognising the need for expertise in setting up coffee shops, Just Planet transitioned into a roastery and café, aiming to make meaningful changes within the industry.

Committed to Fairtrade principles and sustainability, Just Planet became a beacon of change, earning recognition from Channel 9’s Postcards and local awards. Their sustainability practices include:

  • On-site composting of coffee grounds
  • Offering compostable bags and reusable options
  • Promoting Australian-made keep cups

a Just Planet staff member organising their coffee

Just Planet’s main vision is to create a space that fosters connection and positive change. We had a chat with the co-founders Norman and Lee where they shared some thoughts on the Melbourne business community and its focus on the future of sustainability:

“Melbourne is an amazing city, and we have found being in small business here easy due to the sharing of information between businesses. We have got to meet other small specialty roasters like ourselves, and we share our experiences when we catch up. We are excited that our business is growing, and more people are asking questions about where their beans are grown and the great stories behind them. There is a surge of interest in ethical products, sustainable practices and supporting smaller artisan businesses now, more than ever before.”

Instagram: @justplanetcoffee

Good and Fugly

Gppd and Fugle Veggie box
Source: @goodandfugly

Good & Fugly is a culmination of small yet impactful inspirations that have converged to create a larger purpose. Rooted in owner Rich’s passion for gardening and his father’s transformation of their urban front yard into a fruitful oasis, the brand embodies lessons learned from building successful businesses that prioritise community and planetary good.

Striving to balance environmental and commercial sustainability, Good & Fugly aims to rescue imperfect produce, inspired by the mission of making a significant positive impact, as advocated by Pat Brown of Impossible Foods. With staggering statistics on food waste highlighting the urgency of the issue, Good & Fugly is dedicated to chipping away at this problem one delectable delivery at a time, inviting others to join them on this journey toward a more sustainable future.

Instagram: @goodandfugly

Where to Buy

For those who prefer the convenience of online shopping, most of the small businesses featured in this article have a website where you can browse and purchase their products. Don’t forget to also check the business’ website for available stockists, as their products may be available in small retailers nationwide.

If you’re eager to explore these businesses in person, look for upcoming events like the Finders Keepers Market, held in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, and the Big Design Market, hosted in Melbourne and Sydney. These events offer a vibrant platform for thousands of small and micro-independent creative businesses across Australia. Whether you shop online or explore in person, supporting these local businesses is a wonderful way to contribute to their growth and sustainability, making sure our great small business scene continues to flourish!