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The beautiful Coffs Coast is renowned for its pleasant climate, beautiful beaches and close proximity to pristine rainforests. However it is also gaining a reputation as a region that nurtures innovation and talent.

The Business Advisors at ETC work alongside many of these innovators daily and has assisted a number of new start-ups which enjoy a distinct point of difference.

We take a look at some of these businesses helping to put the Coast on the map as a region that nurtures a culture of entrepreneurship and talent:

Yolanda El Khouri of Linen Fish 

Yolanda is a young Missabotti based artist with a load of talent.  She was recently selected as a finalist in the 2016 Eutick Memorial Still Life Award (EMSLA) which has allowed her the opportunity to promote her work through the Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery.  Yolanda’s work offers a fresh take on life and the environment which is reflected through her paintings, cushions and ceramics. Yolanda can often be found at local markets across the Mid North Coast.  To view her stunning art and handcrafted homewares collection, visit

Steve Bigg of Verti-Pots

Coffs entrepreneur Steve Bigg has invented the Verti-Pot grow towers. The planter system is designed to make it possible for people everywhere to grow healthy food, in all environments. The Verti-Pot system is particularly ideal for those with limited time and space and is one of three systems which combined will enable people across the world to grow their own food. Steve is currently working through a not for profit organization to make this knowledge and associated systems more widely accessible. The planter system has huge potential on the global market, providing a much needed solution for many countries needing to increase their food production.

Joel Leske of Mr Intolerables

Through trial and error Joel overcame a range of food intolerances which lead him to identify a niche in the market.  Around one in four Australians suffer a food intolerance of some description and as a solution, Joel has developed a range of fresh, healthy meal choices that not only taste great, but also accommodate a wide range of common food intolerances.  Joel’s food is imaginative and based on totally fresh ingredients, and can be delivered to your door or place of work.  To view the range of products and meals, visit

Linda McAdam of Lazy Daze Cushion Cover Co 

Woolgoolga based Linda is a talented woman who started her cushion business after she struggled to find exciting outdoor cushions for her own home.  Linda’s designs are simply stunning and bring a touch of charm to any occasion, whether it is around the pool, on the deck chair or patio, or to bring a splash of colour to your indoor lounge. They are sun resistant, water and oil repellent, soil and stain resistant and the material is soft and comfortable.  To check out this stunning range of homewares and to purchase visit

Karen Black of Shop it Forward

This innovative online retail shopping mall is the brainchild of Karen Black. It offers shoppers the choice of over 200 plus high profile retailers. When you enter the website you can search over 20 different categories and 40+ sub categories of goods and services from health, beauty and fashion through to entertainment, tickets and holidays.  The donation is funded by the retailer as a percentage of the purchase price. There is no hidden cost to the consumer and no compromise on discounts or promotions offered by the retailer.  For more information visit

Brendan and Michelle Ray of Emergency Bikini System

Complementing their active beachside lifestyle, Brendan and Michelle Ray, saw a gap in the market for a bikini that is readily available at the drop of a hat.  The innovative little pouch containing a quality bikini and is fast going global with a number of outlets expressing interest in stocking the product.  It’s lightweight, transportable and affordable.  You can read more about how these two Coffs based entrepreneurs are utilizing high profile ambassadors to promote their clever design across the world at

Sandi Cleary of Blushing Blueberries

While waiting for her own blueberry bushes to bear fruit in her Macksville orchard, Sandi Cleary decided to source blueberries from local growers and turn them into jams. Encouraged by the sensational taste, she further experimented with sauces, cordials and marinades. Sandi labelled her products Blushing Blueberries and took them to market, literally, the Bellingen Market, Coffs Farmers Market and the Harbourside Market.  Blushing Blueberries was an immediate hit with the public and by early 2016 a new gourmet food business was established.

Nicholas Hannah – Studio ENKI

Nicholas’s studio offers some of the most interesting handmade ceramic tableware, along with unique timber bowls, spoons and serving boards.  Nicholas is committed to beauty in every aspect and offers a bespoke design service.  He uses locally sourced clay materials in his work and is currently looking to establish and develop his online shop.  Nicholas is passionate about his craft and is also committed to supporting emerging artists through his popular ceramic art school.   Visit Studio ENKI:

ETC is now offering a new program to give potential young entrepreneurs the chance to explore opportunities to start their own business.

Exploring Being My Own Boss offers a series of relevant workshops conducted over two weeks (25 hours per week) and is fully subsidised by the Australian Government.

The program covers the following topics:

  • Getting started
  • Idea validation
  • Branding and design
  • Sales and marketing
  • Finance

So if you have a business idea, or dream of being self-employed, you should consider this move as the place to start your own venture.

The program begins 20 March so register your interest in Exploring being My Own Boss today.

Contact an ETC Business Advisor on 02 6648 5400.



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