Spend With Them campaign driving business after fires

Spend With Them social media campaign helping bushfire affected small businesses

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Spend With Them is the campaign supporting business impacted by recent bushfires including Ringer Reef Winery (inset). Main photo: DION GEORGOPOULOS

Spend With Them is the campaign supporting business impacted by recent bushfires including Ringer Reef Winery (inset). Main photo: DION GEORGOPOULOS

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First it was Buy from the Bush, now there is a new campaign.

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A new social media campaign aimed at supporting towns affected by fire has helped small businesses regain lost income in a matter of hours.

Off the back of the global success of the Buy from the Bush campaign for drought stricken communities, a new @spendwiththem account is gaining moment having established more than 150,000 followers in just a few days.

Coffee shops were overwhelmed with more orders in 24 hours than their entire business life after being featured on the Instagram page, while other businesses sold hundreds of products overnight.

The campaign was established by bushfire survivor and motivational speaker Turia Pitt alongside her friend and marketing and content expert Grace McBride as a way to put money directly back into the pockets of the people and communities of fire-affected towns.

Despite being eight months pregnant with her second child, Turia Pitt established the new Spend With Them campaign to show her support to bushfire affected communities.

Despite being eight months pregnant with her second child, Turia Pitt established the new Spend With Them campaign to show her support to bushfire affected communities.

Among those to be featured on the page was Buxton woman Aaliyah Topic who operates Earth Air Fire Water Organics; growing and selling her own herbs, teas and beauty products.

Ms Topic chose to stay and defend her property during recent bushfire threats and had been unable to attend her usual farmer's markets since December 12.

But just 16 hours after her products were showcased on @spendwiththem, Ms Topic had received 330 orders with inquiry from as far away as France.

"Before I even had a notification that (Turia and Grace) had put the post up, orders were coming in," Ms Topic said.

Earth Air Fire Water Organics grow and sell herbs, teas and beauty products.

Earth Air Fire Water Organics grow and sell herbs, teas and beauty products.

"I haven't been promoting the business lately, I've been promoting the wildlife (impacted by fires) to help donate to help feed them. I went through and I finally found that I had been featured on there and I just sat and sobbed."

The neighboring town of Balmoral was almost entirely wiped out and the Buxton community has seen property and housing losses.

Fires had been her focus for so long that Ms Topic and other small business owners had been unable to capitalise on festive season trading.

"This has fixed up that Christmas trade that I lost and (the page) got that back for me in two hours," she said.

"I have to have my phone permanently on charge. I have to put it in another room because it goes all night. I finally got to bed at two o'clock. Now the reality is I have to get all these orders through and done."

Ms Pitt said the support from around Australia had been overwhelming.

Ms Pitt said the support from around Australia had been overwhelming.

She said the support from around Australia had been overwhelming.

"We had trucks coming from Sydney full of water and fresh produce because they knew we couldn't get it in," she said.

"We have had donations from all around Australia flooding in to the point they have had to hire halls to put all the food and donations in for people that have lost everything.

"It's just amazing. How one little post, five seconds of someone's time has just changed my life."

The duo behind the simple idea were inspired by a similar online campaign from Tegan Webber encouraging people to #gowithemptyskys and travel to fire affected communities.

But given it isn't safe to travel to these areas yet, Ms Pitt said they wanted to make a difference to small businesses now.

Neither of them expected the response they received.

"It has definitely blown up in a way that we didn't anticipate," Ms Pitt said.

"Grace and I thought that maybe we'd get 1000 followers in our first 24 hours and could build from there. It's three days later and we're at 153,000 followers.

"We're getting offers of help from all over the place to keep this going and help to respond to all the emails we're getting and to keep the page up and running. We're so proud of the Aussie spirit and how it's translated to Spend With Them."

The pair are sharing as many businesses each day as possible, giving them an equal amount of time in the spotlight.

"Globally, people are saying they're happy to pay extra freight charges just to support these small businesses," Ms Pitt said.

"We're so stoked that Spend With Them is working. It was such a simple idea but it has connected some of these amazing small businesses with Aussies who just want to help and support them."

While it was a quick approach to make an impact, Ms Pitt hopes @spendwiththem can be a way to help business owners into the future too.

"The reality is that these towns and communities are going to need our help long after the initial threat is all over," she said.

"Right now people are mobilised to help in any way they can.

"But when the crisis is over, and media attention wanes and life goes on, fire affected communities will only be in the infancy of rebuilding. They will need our support for the long term."

To be featured on the page email spendwiththem@turiapitt.com and include product pictures, and instructions on how people can buy online or over the phone.

ALSO READ:Australia burns while we fight over how to better deal with bushfires

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