Buy from the Bush burst on to social media one year ago on October 16, encouraging metro consumers to shop the "beautiful boutiques and wares" available in communities struggling with drought.
Central Stores at Gilgandra was one of the first to feature in the showcase that quickly attracted a mass following.
Elizabeth McAllister, owner of the fashion, accessories and homewares emporium, reflects on the past 12 months...
My in-store customers had been calling in much less frequently with the ongoing drought having a big impact - buying a new dress is not really a priority when you are having trouble getting enough feed for the stock.
So online marketing was becoming more important to my business and the timing of Buy from the Bush (BFTB) could not have been better.
My online customers were hanging in there and keeping me going, and have always come from Sydney first, followed by Melbourne then Brisbane then elsewhere regionally - but BFTB definitely had an immediate massive spike for me in terms of new customers and sales.
My sales went up by more than 100 per cent by December and I actually had to order in one particular green linen dress that was promoted on BFTB in the triple digits.
The first post Grace did for my store was the day after she launched (so she didn't actually have that many followers then) - someone in Paddington, Sydney bought a featured bag within minutes of it appearing on Instagram.
I thought "WOW Grace has got something with this hashtag".
Then I received a lovely note from the woman saying how much she loved the bag, the wrapping and the fast service and she would definitely be back online soon. The appreciation and kind words about the drought from the new customers was something I wasn't expecting.
It has been wonderful and still is to have the ongoing inquiries from people who want to support the bush and also keen to buy Australian - as Australian fashion is my focus at Central Stores, BFTB has been a great opportunity for me to increase the number of fashion labels I stock and try to source more fashion that is actually made in Australia, not only designed in Australia and owned by Australian companies (quite difficult!).
I think Grace has had an amazing influence on the way many city people view the bush and opened their eyes to what is out here. Lots of small businesses presenting curated collections of fashion, homewares, hand-made items and lots more - I get lots of people coming into the shop saying they've just been to Sydney and couldn't find anything better to buy there than what you can get out here. Really every little town out here has great little stores these days.
Seeing a Central Stores dress on Grace in the pages of Vogue Australia magazine was definitely a highlight for me as a little fashion store in a little town.
The national attention on the drought did move on to the devastating fires then to COVID of course and so it has been a tough year again with many businesses affected by all sorts of flow-on ramifications across both city and bush.
I believe that the BFTB brand is here to stay because I think people now realise what is out here - not only retail, but that it's actually a great place to visit as well, or even re-locate to. The sophistication and skills of Grace and her team has been obvious throughout the campaign and I don't think anyone else could have achieved what Grace has.
I, like many small businesses in the bush, will be forever grateful to Grace for turning the gaze of the city to the bush at a crucial moment in time and saving lots of small businesses from potentially having to shut their doors.