#buyfromthebush was created a little over three months ago as an Instagram account to showcase products available to buy from rural communities facing drought, and on Tuesday, its founder Grace Brennan shared her story at the Australia Day Address.
Since its founding on 16 October, Ms Brennan’s Instagram page has grown to over 200,000 followers, speedily achieving its mission to connect bush businesses with city customers.
Ms Brennan, a self-employed mum living on a farm in Warren, NSW, is the first regional woman to deliver a speech at the Australia Day Address. Speaking to the country, she summed up her initiative to date with the words, “Ordinary people can have an extraordinary impact”.
#buyfromthebush started at Ms Brennan’s kitchen table, a symbolic place in the home for all country women.
“When asked recently what one image summed up the drought for me, it was a woman at her kitchen table in tears,” she said.
Ms Brennan explained that she had long “been obsessed” with the beautiful boutiques offering different collections of fashion, gifts and homewares to enable “bush women to feel a little less out of the loop”. Seeing how limited their businesses now were, reliant on cash flow from farming communities that weren’t spending, she saw a clear need to inject both dollars and hope into the bush.
“The need to allow people to feel visible and valued. The need for both symbolic and real support from the city to the bush.”
Her background in community development, and the skills she acquired as the founder of a start-up called AgDraft, saw her turn to social media for a solution.
Speaking to Australia, Ms Brennan shared a message of hope.
She explained that in the first six weeks of the initiative, $2.6 million of revenue was generated for businesses featured on her social pages, creating 25 jobs.
“A boutique owner wrote, ‘You’ve saved my business, I was on the verge of closing my doors, but can now keep going.’”
She urged Australia to start telling a different story about the bush and the drought, “one that engages community and allows them to feel connected to the bush, not out of pity, out of pride”.
“Images of emaciated sheep, dry dams, defeated men, poor buggers. They sit nicely in the media reel of the year that was. But is that the story of drought?”
More than a financial investment
Ms Brennan has described the Buy From The Bush campaign as more than a financial investment, adding that its biggest success is the psychological impact of city customers “buying in” to these bush businesses at a time like this.
On Tuesday, she was praised by the Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian, who said “her #buyfromthebush initiative has been a powerful platform in connecting city and bush and giving purpose to both. She has shown that any of us can make a positive impact.”
But Ms Brennan opined that to achieve long-term impact, the “bush brand” needs to be developed, marketed and celebrated within the context of a global trend, going beyond retail and tapping into services and other businesses run in the bush.
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of My Business.
Maja has an extensive career as a journalist across finance, business and market intelligence. Prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja spent several years unravelling social, political and economic intricacies in Eastern Europe.