How clever CQ mum tripled her business in just 13 days
Casey Hancock knows all too well the highs and lows of life in the bush, but with the help of online promoters, she is bouncing back.
After her first pregnancy was deemed high risk, she had to leave her home town of Capella at 37 weeks, and pay for accommodation in Mackay, away from her family.
And when her daughter Montana was born with a cleft lip and palate, Ms Hancock's world became a whirlwind of travelling to hospital and specialist appointments.
With a partner working weeks away at the Dysart mining camp, she moved in with her Mum on their 600-acre property on the outskirts of Capella.
Her stepfather also works away, to meet the rising costs of feed and stock care.
"My Mum and her partner have sold their 30 head of sheep and reduced their cattle to a bare minimum," Ms Hancock said.
"They've been buying round bales and licks for the cattle, and it's getting harder and harder to get hay for a decent price."
She began sewing with her Mum when Montana was a baby, making bibs and burp cloths, before branching out into clothes and dresses.
There is only one fabric store 50 kms down the road in Emerald, and it's a long round trip to either Rockhampton or Mackay should the sewing machine need a service.
"We've just bought a second machine so we have one to work on while the other's away," Ms Hancock said.
Her foray into retail began with the local markets, shortly after her second child, Nash, was born, last June.
"Mum and I found it was a way to get out around the region, and talk to other people in the same situation."
The, one day, she heard about the social media retail initiatives, Buy from the Bush and One Day Closer to Rain.
"The moderators have started something off their backs to help people in the bush make a few dollars extra, which is just amazing," Ms Hancock said.
"We started posting in October and, by December, we had too many orders to fill.
"And when we reopened in January, our business tripled in just 13 days."
Among the outfits being snapped up by buyers from Mareeba to Tasmania, some firm favourites are Ms Hancock's Australia Day specials - baby clothes made out of bold Australia flag fabric.
"I find lots of people are looking for nice boys outfits which are hard to come by," Ms Hancock said.
"And we are starting to see a lot of repeat business, as their children grow."
The business he runs with her Mum, Mini Moni, offers a monthly contributor prize for people who share photos of the children wearing their gear.
As consumers switch from generic, imported gifts to buying Australian-made products, rural artisans have an opportunity to turn their hobbies into money to support their families.
Retailers close to the bushfire-afflicted areas down south have reported that a loss of seasonal tourism and passing traffic have left their homes a "ghost town".
Such is the impact sites such as Buy from the Bush have on keeping local economies afloat, its founder Grace Brennan was selected to deliver this year's Australia Day address.
She said she wanted to show the "incredible innovation and hard work" occurring in rural townships, and connect them with them new markets.
A scroll through the One Day Closer to Rain - Rural Cottage Crafts page reveals purchasers are leaving positive feedback for the Christmas gifts they had delivered last month.
"I received my (cutting) board this week and its amazing!" said one shopper to a timber company north of Gympie.
"Your images are beautiful; congratulations on your positive mindset," another wrote to the owner of TH Image photography in Duaringa.
With Valentines Day fast approaching, there are hundreds of alternatives to store-bought gifts to choose from, with postal delivery a breeze.
"Ideally, we'd like to turn this into a business which can turn us a profit," Ms Hancock said of Mini Moni.
"We don't draw a wage yet for our labour, but even covering the costs of our materials and transport would be amazing.
"I'd like to think, if we work hard enough and get other Australians behind us, we might support ourselves to work from home one day."