Buxton tea-maker bolstered by Instagram page plugging bushfire-affected businesses

Pictures: Instagram, Aaliyah Topic
Pictures: Instagram, Aaliyah Topic

Aaliyah Topic lost more than a month's income due to the Green Wattle Creek fire - but all that changed thanks to Instagram.

The Buxton resident has a business - Earth.Air.Fire.Water Organics - selling organic teas, soaps and beauty products that she makes herself.

When the devastating bushfire began to close in on her town, Ms Topic was unable to make it out to the markets where she usually sells her goods.

Christmas, her busiest time of year, was suddenly devoid of sales.

But everything changed yesterday, when an Instagram account run by inspirational burns survivor and south coast resident Turia Pitt gave the business a plug.

"I was in another room when I heard the 'cha-ching' sound that signifies I've got a sale on my Shopify site," Ms Topic said.

"I was so surprised because I'd only been posting about the wildlife feeding stations on my page, and I wasn't really promoting my business at all, so I didn't expect any sales.

"But before I could even make it into the room, I heard another 'cha-ching', and then another."

Ms Topic said orders were coming in so fast she didn't even have a chance to check Instagram and see where all her sales were coming from.

She soon learned that Ms Pitt had shared Earth.Air.Fire.Water on SpendWithThem, an Instagram account which encourages people to buy products from businesses which have been affected by the bushfire crisis.

The orders came in thick and fast, and Ms Topic could hardly believe her eyes.

"It's really just so amazing what Turia Pitt has done," she said.

"I've sent her emails to say thanks.

"There was a new order coming in about every five minutes.

"This has just been such a weight off my shoulders."

Ms Topic received almost 500 orders in less than a day thanks to SpendWithThem.

Her buyers were coming from all across Australia, and she even had international interest.

"I had messages from people in France and the United States asking me why they couldn't get my products shipped internationally," she said.

"I had to tell them that, because they're plant-based products, they won't make it through quarantine.

"They still wanted to help, so I said every like on my page or any other page featured on SpendWithThem makes a big difference."

Ms Topic said she'd been scrambling to get her influx of orders sorted out - "they'll take a little longer than normal, I hope people understand" - so she hadn't had a change to check out some of the other businesses which had been featured yet.

But as soon as things "settle down a bit" she'll be sure to support the others as well.

Ms Topic said her neighbours and friends had been exceptionally supportive and offered to help pack and sort her orders.

In addition to helping her business, everyone who purchases goods from Earth.Air.Fire.Water will also be supporting the Buxton RFS.

"I decided back in December that I'd donate 10 per cent of all my sales to the RFS, but I didn't have any sales back then, so I didn't have anything to donate," Ms Topic said.

"But now that all this business has come through I've extended the donation period through to the end of March and I can give back to the RFS.

"Without them, I probably wouldn't have my house, so I'm so grateful."

Ms Topic said her whole experience of the past day was "surreal" and she had spent some time "sitting on the floor sobbing in happiness".

She wanted to thank all her new customers and followers - "90 per cent of the orders have beautiful words of encouragement in the delivery notes", she said in a message to Ms Pitt - and SpendWithThem for shining a light on businesses doing it tough.

Learn more about Earth.Air.Fire.Water Organics here: https://earth-air-fire-water-organics-4.myshopify.com/