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Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

On International Women’s Day we asked for your nominations of great businesses in our area, and we were overwhelmed! So instead of doing one story and trying to squeeze them all in, we’re going to do this in parts over the next couple of weeks.

Today, meet a candle maker, a wellness workshop host and essential oil advocate, a toy store owner, and a magazine publisher.


Michelle Hearne from Melted Scents

Armidale based Melted Scents makes a range of environmentally friendly hand poured soy candles, melts, tealights and reed diffusers.

Michelle started Melted Scents in 2016 after her favourite shop closed and her husband suggested she make her own.

“I bought the basic supplies and made some candles also, and soon after, friends and colleagues were asking to buy them.”

“That was the start of my love for finding beautiful fragrances to share.”

“We do our best to reduce our carbon footprint using soy wax, lead free wicks, eco-friendly bags, recyclable plastic cups, and glassware that can be reused,” she said.

Michelle also runs a second business as a productivity coach.

Michelle Hearne (supplied)

Website | Facebook | Instagram


Reba Ide from Create Your Sunshine

Reba created her wellness business to inspire a healthy, non toxic and creative life in 2018 when she was on a healthy journey of balancing her hormones after having a bad experience being on the contraceptive pill.

“Create Your Sunshine is my soul led business originating as a creative expression, sharing my love for living a low tox life, ditch harmful chemicals and find my way to simple living with DIYs of cleaning and skincare using essential oils.” 

“Create Your Sunshine really kicked off in October 2021 when I started selling Botanical Deodorants made with love from natural ingredients and essential oils.”

“My son was 9 months old at that time and I knew I never wanted to work for someone else.”

Describing the business as constantly evolving, Create Your Sunshine currently has three pillars:

  • Being a wellness advocate for dōTERRA (essential oils and wellness products for every room of the house),  
  • Teaching pilates at Njoy Pilates, specialising in Pre and Postnatal Pilates, and
  • Selling Botanical Deodorant made in small batches throughout the year. Two varieties- Lavender & Cedar Wood (Sensitive) and Bergamot & Tea Tree (Vegan). 

“January this year is when I decided to go all in and really work my doTerra advocate biz as I had been using the oils for the past 5 years and have loved every second of integrating their powers into my life.”

Reba Ide (supplied)

Website | Instagram


Beattie Alvarez from Granny Fi’s Toy Cupboard

Granny Fi’s is one of the region’s most beloved treasures, started by three generations of New England women. They celebrated their 10th birthday a couple of weeks ago.

“Mum (aka the REAL Granny Fi, aka Fiona McDonald) always wanted to open a toyshop filled with beautiful handmade toys,” Beattie said.

“She has been making toys for as long as I can remember, starting with my own doll, Irene when I was five.”

“She moved onto dragons when my brother encountered The Hobbit for the first time and won several international doll making competitions in the 1990s.”

“Shortly after I moved to Armidale we had the opportunity to open our first shop in Uralla. Dragons and dolls were more popular than anticipated, so I had to quickly scrub up my sewing skills to help.”

The shop was in Uralla for a year then moved to Armidale, and then were forced to move again during the pandemic to their current shop in the Beardy St Mall, where they have been for two and a half years now.

Catering to the young and young at heart, the hand made dolls, dragons and other toys are sought after both locally and through their online store. Beattie says main focus is quality, handmade toys — heirlooms, not landfill.

“We do love making the toys.”

“However we are also nerds and fantasy lovers, so we have a range that caters for like-minded people with a great selection of merchandise from Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Star Wars and even retro movies like Labyrinth.”

Eventually Fiona became the full time carer to her mum and Beattie took over the business officially. She insists it is still truly is a family business, with her husband David is the main mandrake maker, Beattie as the head dragon hatcher and Fiona does bits of everything and helps when Beattie can’t get a new pattern to work!

Beattie Alvarez with Cromwell the dragon (supplied)

Website | Facebook | Instagram


Steph Wanless from FOUND Regional magazine

FOUND Regional is a quarterly 100 page magazine – yes, an actual printed one – that was launched in September last year. They also have an online events calendar and FOUND x FOUND  food & drink and retail pages and a blog (FOUND ONLINE).

Steph Wanless says she started the business with her husband Martin to shine a spotlight on the incredible humans, businesses and events throughout the New England, Waterfall Way and Coffs Coast regions.

“Our number one goal? To connect the mountains to the sea and celebrate all these beautiful regions have to offer,” she said.

FOUND Regional shares tales of brilliant local people doing incredible things and whole load of experiences happening right under your nose here in our region. 

Steph Wanless (Studio L.J.)

Website | Facebook | Instagram


Thank you to everyone who nominated these amazing women and their businesses! We’ll have another 4 great local businesses for you next week.


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