3 businesses making night-time their time

Shutting up shop at 5pm? Not these Sydney businesses, who saw success by thinking outside traditional trading hours.

Commune

Commune opened its first co-working space 6 years ago. The business saw a growing need not just for good wifi and a quiet desk, but for a sense of community in the face of an increasingly disconnected culture.

“As cities get bigger, people can start to feel like strangers,” Jennifer Noorbergen said, Commune’s design, marketing and community manager.

For freelancers and small business owners, co-working spaces offer a solution to a sense of isolation. By extending a space’s offering into the evening, it provides another way to bring other people in the community together.

“We wanted to give people with busy 9 to 5 lives opportunities to get involved with things that enrich their experience in their city,” Jennifer said.

Things like weekly night-time events that celebrate Sydney’s subcultures, community and artistic expression in Waterloo, as well as a major quarterly event: Our Hood.

“They’ve become a platform for creatives, foodies, alternative culture and wellness. The quarterly event is a culmination – a diverse mix of things from live music, art, workshops, dance, yoga, markets, food. We curate a really magical evening.”

It wasn’t always that way. Our Hood started small, but thanks to strong community support and a $20,000 matched grant from the City of Sydney, it’s only going to get bigger.

“The grant is allowing us to grow and develop it into a more sustainable ongoing project that continues to serve the community and bring even more creatives into the fold," Jennifer said.

Commune expands its offerings. Credit: Commune

Di Bartoli Coffee

Coffee at night? A macchiato in the morning or even a latte after lunch is a stalwart of our routines, but for the team at Di Bartoli, evenings presented a new challenge.

“As soon as we found out about the City of Sydney night-time diversification grant, we knew it was a great opportunity – particularly as we were moving into a new venue in Rosebery which had space to do something really interesting,” managing director Ofra Ronen said.

“Suddenly new possibilities to engage the community opened up. What we had to offer was so much more than just coffee retail, and we wanted to come from a place of empowerment and education – really letting people know that whatever the barista around the corner can do, you can do too.”

So the team of coffee connoisseurs went deep. It developed a seed to cup evening workshop for coffee drinkers who want to really understand what goes into a great, sustainable drink.

“For us, it’s about bringing the community together and getting lots of brand exposure,” Ofra said.

“We’ve seen interaction and engagement on social media rise and we’ve opened the door for new audiences, while people become more familiar with the location and what we offer.”

Di Bartoli offers coffee workshops at night. Credit: Di Bartoli

Footage

Darlinghurst fashion and lifestyle shop Footage has long been a daytime destination for chic pieces and elegant gifts. But now, at night, the store offers a very special kind of service: to meet the people behind the products.

“Meet the Maker is a forum for people to come together, meet other locals and have interactions with the artisans or producers we feature. It’s a personalised experience that’s worth leaving the house for,” co-owner Phil Koh said.

“These days my competitor isn’t just a shop down the road, it’s the competitor in Germany or Japan who sells online. The way to stay competitive is to invite people back into our space and showcase these amazing Australian artisans.”

Each monthly event draws from 40 to 60 people. All bar a few leave with a purchase.

“It’s also been free market research. It’s invaluable to have those conversations with our customers which translates into choices we make for the shop. And the night presents a perfect opportunity: they’re not at work, they’re feeling relaxed and in the frame of mind to enjoy themselves free from the day’s responsibilities,” Phil said.

A $10,000 grant from the City of Sydney has enabled Footage to offer the events throughout 2019 and “go deeper" into its offering "from better drinks to being able to offer freebies and extras to make the experience more enjoyable and enriching”.

A City grant allowed Footage to hold monthly events. Credit: Footage

Think a night-time diversification grant could help take your business into the evenings? Applications for grants are open until 11 March 2019.

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