We had the pleasure of meeting Max, founder of Melbourne's Little Sky Gelato, a family-owned business that takes pride in serving up delicious gelato produced with only the finest ingredients, while also being as eco-friendly as possible. Motivated by a shared appreciation for gelato, they set out to build a business that had a strong a community around it.
We talked with him about the building's unique yet historic design, what it meant to become B-Corp, and his words of wisdom for anyone thinking about opening a cafe or speciality gelateria.
How would you describe yourself and your brand?
I love good food that’s made with quality ingredients where less is more. And in turn I use those principles to create Little Sky gelato.
Little Sky is all about offering amazing gelato to be shared with friends and family in a welcoming, calm space. An additional key founding principle for Little Sky is to be as sustainably responsible as possible and we are proud to be a certified B Corp.
When it came to designing your space, where did you find your inspiration?
The Little Sky shop’s fit out was designed by the talented team at Ewert Leaf.
Our brief was to create a welcoming space that reflected Bayside and a love of quality gelato while retaining as much of the building’s 19th century history as possible.
Original elements such as the brick walls and the concrete floors were restored and we wanted to use as much blue as possible, inspired by the sea and sky. We’ve also created some Brighton summer fun with an artwork piece on one brick wall that was designed and painted by local artist Sarah Darby. It’s all about friends, fun and, of course, Bayside beaches including the famous Brighton Beach bathing boxes.
You’ve incorporated a number of George & Willy products into your space, what have you used and what do you love about each product?
Little Sky’s menu board with its bronze rails and black lettering was created using George & Willy’s Atelier Letter Board mounted on a custom painted backing board. Not only is it easy to update the flavours, as we change them each week, it looks perfect in the space as well. We also use the Counter Signs for our cakes, the Studio Roller in the kitchen for notes to the Little Sky team, and the Circle Sign for notices for our customers on the front counter. They all look stylishly simple and are the perfect fit for our shop - we love them! Lastly, we also use the wooden Park Letter Board which we had mounted on an A-frame, it’s the perfect menu board to accompany our gelato cart for events.
What are your top three tips for anyone wanting to open a cafe or coffee shop?
Be patient, things often take longer than you think.
Always keep your original vision in mind, even if you have to refine it along the way, and be true to your values – create something you are proud of.
Do everything you can to keep your good staff, pay them properly and treat them well.
When it came to the signage in your space, what was important to you?
It had to be easy to use, be made by someone who cares about their work (that way you know it’s going to be good quality), and lastly, it has to look good.
Best piece of business advice you’ve been given?
Make sure you have more than one thing you can be famous for.
Tell us about becoming B Corp certified, what does it mean to you & the brand, and how did it come about?
Little Sky is a family business and we wanted to run our gelateria in a way that aligned with our values, and, to set an example for our children and for other businesses to follow. The meaning behind the name of the gelateria reflects this thinking, “we believe that although we are a little business, we all look up at the same big sky.” That is, we all share this planet as individuals, and each of us has a responsibility to play a part in looking after it. In recognition of all the work Little Sky does in the area of environmental and social responsibility, we are the first Australian gelato/ice-cream shop to be B Corp certified.
B Corporations meet higher standards of social and environmental impact, transparency, and have accountability to stakeholders, rather than just shareholders.
One item on your menu we MUST order?
That’s a hard one! Chocolate. Or Cookies & Cream. Or Iced Coffee... we could go on! And then there’s the limited edition flavour of the week, because if you don’t have it once it’s gone, it’s gone.
What is your favourite thing to do in Brighton on your day off?
Pop down to Omar and the Coffee Bird for a coffee.
What is next for Little Sky Gelato, anything exciting on the horizon?
We’ve got some exciting collaborations coming up and with this, of course, delicious new flavours to die for!
Image credits - Fiona Storey