Entrepreneur’s secret to success is to foster community through music

“… it's important to support our musicians. Pay them fairly. Pay your OneMusic Fees. Pay for streaming services. And tell them you love them. Buy them coffees and give them cool drinks”.

Community spirit is thriving in NSW’s sparkling Mid-North Coast, thanks to one passionate entrepreneur Kim Towner. The Happy Frog Café and Harbourside Markets in Coffs Harbour are loved by locals and tourists alike for far more than the food and products on offer. Both businesses, owned and run by Kim, are bringing people together with an ever-growing list of creative projects that give back to the community.

Happy Frog Cafe's Kim Towner next to a donation box for a women's charity. One of her many ongoing projects!

Happy Frog Cafe's Kim Towner next to a donation box for a women's charity - just one of her many community projects.

The Happy Frog Café is a health-focused diner with strong initiatives in place to support Kim’s belief that they can run a business in an atmosphere of growth for all whilst remaining sustainable – economically, socially, and environmentally.

"We love connecting with our community. We feel we are in such a beautiful position because we get to be in the places where the community meets up. Because of that, we get to find opportunities to join in and help with things. We are able to use profits from the sale of our T-shirts to fund local initiatives. We donate food for all sorts of things and pretty much use our marketing budget for anything else that comes along."

Kim is never short of charitable projects to work on and is a firm believer of giving back to the community. The Anglicare World Garden and CommuniTEA at Harbourside Markets are just a couple of programs she has launched so far.

To add to her long list of interests, she’s also a champion for the arts. Kim is always finding new ways to incorporate music into her business operations and brand. Curated playlists based on different themes delight her café patrons at Happy Frog, and she believes it brings more people through the door as a result:

We absolutely love music in our Cafe and our Markets. At the Cafe we take turns to pick artists or playlists or themes. Music brings lightness and a happy vibe to our businesses. It always feels like something's going on when there is music.

The Harbourside Markets in Coff's Harbour on a busy, sunny Sunday morning.

Coff's Harbour's Harbourside Markets on a bright, busy Sunday morning.

The Harbourside Markets practically double as an outdoor festival with a healthy live music roster of local acts that vary from buskers, big bands, indie folk, bush bands and more every Sunday:

“We have a big, covered stage where you can see the harbour as you play. The Musos love it! It creates a wonderful festival feeling. It's such a treat to have our own outdoor concert every week.”

Kim feels strongly that musicians are small business owners too and deserve the same respect as any other industry workforce. With this in mind, she creates opportunities for musicians that not only benefit them, but bring enjoyment to all:

We think it's important to support our musicians. Pay them fairly. Pay your OneMusic Fees. Pay for streaming services. And tell them you love them. Buy them coffees and give them cool drinks. Spread the word to other venues and be flexible and co-operate so they can get more gigs. And give new guys a go. Everyone needs a start. Have a singer songwriter day or a newbie day or a young one’s day. Perfect can be boring. Having fun can be entertaining.

Geoff Littlemore and the Icebreakers performing at the Harbourside Markets Geoff Littlemore and the Icebreakers perform at the Harbourside Markets.

She says if there was one downside, it’s that “there are never enough live music venues around.” Not all live music setups require a big stage and a PA system. Even the smallest spaces could still host acoustic acts, vocalists and more.  

If you’re a business that could benefit your community (and your bottom line) with the addition of live music, Check out our Small Business Guide to live music presentation here.

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