New business case studies

West Wimmera Shire is a growing region and a number of new businesses have chosen to start their journey in western Victoria.  Find out more about some new businesses below. Source:


Most days you see a story that is too good to be true.

The bank CEO who only goes to work for the love of his customers (but is pocketing my lifetime’s earnings in a year).

The reality TV star with yet another distressing backstory who turns out to have an ugly soul.

This is not one of those stories.

Every so often, someone comes along and despite our learned cynicism, the questions over what they are really seeking, the queries about the product, they emerge squeaky clean and cause us to start believing in people all over again.

Tanya Stanley is standing in a dry paddock, sons Cooper and Toby washed and scrubbed for the occasion, and boxes of humming bees at a safe distance and she is just bursting to talk about the benefits of the Beetanicals skin balm range. She is 100% focused not on sales, or on appearance, but on the excitement, she gets from the legions of customers who are contacting her to thank her for her product.

“It’s a very high emotion business,” Tanya said.

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“It’s so important to me, to know that the skin balms I produce are really helping people – mums who are feeding, babies with skin conditions, and also people going through chemotherapy have started to use it.

“I just want to educate people and help them with their skin and ease their relief and discomfort, it feels really, really good to help out.”

It’s a skincare range she has created with thousands of hours of research, in world-class packaging, with new success stories from users coming in by the day, all conjured from the kitchen of her home in Douglas, a speck on the map 70 kilometres southwest of Horsham.

She could be boasting about the rapid uptick in sales, the achievements of creating a vibrant new business in rural Victoria while on maternity leave from her career in financial planning, or the juggle of raising two kids alongside her husband, third-generation beekeeper Warren.

But instead, Tanya’s answers are a stream of credit for others. She wants to credit Warren, whose knowledge of bees and beekeeping set her on the path to natural skincare queen; her employers, who have strongly supported her to create the enterprise with extended maternity leave and her kids – in particular Cooper, whose had a skin condition from birth inspired her to try to find a natural, effective skincare balm.

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Her main anxiety at the end of the discussion is she has also neglected to mention her parents, who have spent countless hours at markets and with the children while she pursued her dreams.

The story, though, is really about Tanya. She grew up in Horsham before meeting Warren and starting a new life in Douglas, while continuing to travel to the regional city to continue her job.

When Cooper was born, she was already well versed in the soothing properties of beeswax and honey from discussions with Warren, and her immediate motivation was to find a natural balm for his skin.

“I am a big researcher, I have spent thousands of hours researching what could work as a balm for Cooper’s skin and working with experts along the way to bring our product range to life,” Tanya says.

“Initially I was making it for my son and had other people interested in it. I was big on getting it right, I wanted to connect with the right experts before sharing it with family and friends and it has just evolved over time.”

The basic balms she brewed in her kitchen had great results on Cooper, and requests for the balm continued to grow as word spread. Ever cautious, with a keen focus on safety and effectiveness, she enlisted cosmetic chemists to help her formulate a range of balms and after four years of work, was finally ready to launch the Beetanicals range in September 2018.

An online business course run by the online Women’s Business School played a key role in preparing the business for launch.

“Completing the business skills course online from here in Douglas was incredible; there is a whole network out there of mums and women in business than opened up contacts to me so I could establish the business from Douglas,” Tanya says.

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“We have been overwhelmed by the response – the support for the product and the stories from people, knowing that they are putting something natural and effective on their children’s skin. I’m overwhelmed by how it is making people feel.”

Chemists, baby boutiques and retail outlets have been in touch, wanting to stock the range and Tanya has also been approached by a number of people interested in export, but the potential financial windfall from sending Beetanicals overseas holds little allure.

“There are so many people in Australia that need help with their skin, I haven’t made any plans to export it at the moment,” she says.

Living in Douglas, in the West Wimmera Shire, has ended up being an important part of the success story of the brand.

“Because we are out here in a beautiful environment, with Warren being a third-generation beekeeper, using natural ingredients to help people with stories like our own, I think people have really responded well to our products,” Tanya says.

“Our family journey has been a really important part of the business – and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

Visit the Beetanicals website for more information.

Kaniva Puppet Shop

Rural Australian towns used to have a newsagent, a fish and chip shop, a store, several pubs and if you were lucky, a Chinese restaurant. But times they are a-changing.

Kaniva, on the bustling – Melbourne-Adelaide route, has many attractions, but the one that sets the town apart sits beneath a jaunty red awning on the main street – the Kaniva Puppet Shop.

The landmark business was established in 2017 and is thriving, serving not just the local and passing trade, but also a growing online market.

The business was established by the indomitable Julie Finch, who came to Kaniva to retire, but not content with renovating her picturesque cottage, decided to renovate a substantial double-fronted shop and residence in the heart of town as well, creating a puppet shop complete with puppet theatre.

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Indoors, the store is festooned with puppets, imported from around the world, a manifestation of Julie’s many years in the puppet trade. She had run a puppet shop in Hahndorf in South Australia for many years, and lived in the Adelaide Hills, but moved to Kaniva after falling in love with the town.

“I could have stayed in retirement but that would have been really boring. I wanted to have a bit of a wow shop in Kaniva with something a bit different,” Julie says.

“I thought I would have a smaller shop but I fell in love with this one.”

When she retired in Adelaide, she resolved to move to Kaniva for a change of scenery.

“I thought, ‘Why should I retire in the Adelaide Hills, where I have lived most of my life, when there is this beautiful little community just over the border?’” Julie says.

“When I bought the cottage here, there was no power, but the first night I arrived, neighbours just put electrical cords through the window and the community support has just continued from there.

“It’s a beautiful town and one of the things I love most is the night sky. If you wake up at 2am you can see the Milky Way in all its glory. I haven’t seen the night sky like it is here since I was a child.”

Ever since she was eight, Julie has had an abiding love for puppets.

“In 1957 I went to a matinee by a Sydney puppet company and fell in love with the marionettes, which were of Australian animals. To see all our animals a metre high just enthralled me and I haven’t put puppets down since,” Julie says.

“My passion is the key to my success.

“Puppets appeal to all age groups, my oldest customer was 94 years old. You are never too old to have a puppet.”

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Kings Katering and Farm Produce

Way out in Victoria’s west, headed as far across the plains as one can be before you hit the South Australian border, the little town of Edenhope is surrounded by big sky sheep and wheat farms – the kind where the average shearer knocks off a hearty feast of meat and boiled veg on a break in between ewes.

In the local memorial halls, and in big farm kitchens, egg and lettuce sandwiches and scones running thick with cream and jam have long been the favoured fare.

But now Alexandria King is shaking things up, bringing salads and roast vegetables to the dinner plates of shearers, farmers and local people across the district. And they are loving it.

“Edenhope has been very much based on the three veg and meat dinner menu, with fresh produce really hard to find out here. I wanted to change their experience with food and to bring different experiences to the table – and the local community have been really supportive,” Alexandria says.

More than half of the food Kings Katering and Farm Produce provide through catering is grown outside Alexandria’s kitchen window, on an urban microfarm sprawling across a number of houseblocks, tended by her husband, Lucas.

Alexandria studied biomedical science and Lucas studied land management, but the couple moved back to Alexandria’s home town after time away in the city to put down some roots – creating a home for three children.

“It was a conscious decision to raise the kids in Edenhope,” Alexandria says.

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“It’s a safe community, it’s a good place to raise kids because everybody looks out for them and helps you raise the kids in a sense.”

While she studied science, it was her part-time job in a restaurant and then the opportunity to cook for her parents back in Edenhope that ignited Alexandria’s love of food.

“I started to play with relishes because I didn’t like seeing the garden produce that we had grown go to waste.

“It wasn’t an environmental thought for a start. It’s money you have spent on water and seed and effort that you have invested in growing produce, so you don’t want to just throw it in the bin once it gets to the kitchen.

“Now I am sort of known for everything salad. My focus is primarily on healthy foods – I want to nourish my children and myself so we live a long healthy life and people really appreciate the flavour of home grown produce when it is in season.”

Alexandria started her catering business from home in 2013 and has built up a clientele across the region, from Horsham to Mt Gambier and sometimes beyond.

Lucas established his intensive market garden on blocks next door to his house in 2016, while working part-time, and now sells salad mixes through four local businesses, as well as providing veggie boxes to the local community.

“I do a $25 veggie box and it’s got a range of what I am growing in there, depending on what is in season,” Lucas says.

“I send out boxes once or twice each week, or deliver them. It’s a pretty simple system, I just send a message out on Facebook messenger and people give the thumbs up if they want one delivered.”

Lucas has a clear sense of why he has chosen to pursue his market garden plans.

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“There were a number of reasons; I wanted to be my own boss, work from home, be closer to the kids and produce things that you want to produce. There are probably other reasons, but that’s enough isn’t it?” he says with a smile.

Lucas started the garden after studying other micro-farmers online, in particular a Canadian, Curtis Stone.

“There is definitely a future for more intensive farms – it’s a growing trend. People want more fresh organic food and there is more scope for these types of farms to exist in small communities,” Lucas says.

Lucas is now leaving his job to work full-time as an urban farmer.

“It took a little while to learn how much people would buy, and how much to grow, but there is a lot of potential – the sky is the limit.”

Alexandria says while the business has taken time to develop, the close-knit local community has been a tremendous support – showing their appreciation for the couple’s hard work and initiative.

“We didn’t get the clients straight away, but everyone was really supportive and keen to help you thrive,” Alexandria says.