Etota is lucky enough to be stocked in Byron Bay's first alcohol-free bottle shop Sunnyboy Cellars. We love this store (literally obsessed with the interiors and their product range - all the best brands!) and stop in regularly to chat with Co-Founder's Ella and Bella. Privileged, they gave us a few extra minutes of their time to answer some questions about non-alc, running a business and how they launched their company.
1. Hi Ella and Bella. We love the store! How did you come up with the idea to launch Byron’s first booze free bottle shop?
Cheers! The cellar started out as a single shelf in Sunnyboy, our corner store in Evans Head. We already sold flowers, eggs, sourdough, coffee (all the general store-y stuff) so adding a cellar was a nod to the one-stop-shop vibe. We realised pretty quickly that we’d snagged a gap in the market so we just ran with it. We don’t tend to do things by halves so a few months later we were signing the lease to our Byron store! A big move, it was very scary and really bloody fun haha.
2. Do you drink less / are you booze free?
After drinking our way through the pandemic, we were honestly just a bit over booze. Our inspiration for the cellar wasn’t about us ‘going sober’, though. We both love a chilli marg or a glass of wine with dinner…We just wanted GOOD options for events and gatherings that weren’t necessarily alcoholic.
3. The interiors are very chic. Feels like Melbourne. And you designed it! Where did you get your inspiration from?
We make a lot of it up as we go! Our design process is actually so loose and haphazard that we’re never sure what the aesthetic outcome will be (or if it will even be good haha). Most of the decor is from op-shops & marketplace or in the case of our wall mounted wine racks, handmade by Bella 48 hours before opening day! Ella is creative and Bella is good with tools so big projects run pretty smoothly for us.
4. Byron has been known as a party town. Who is the Sunnyboy customer seeking a non-alc alternative?
Byron seems to orbit around a few significant cultures and industries- partying is definitely one of them. People also move and travel to Byron to detox & retreat, for baby-moons, destination weddings, remote work and corporate events. The Sunnyboy customer doesn’t fit neatly into a box!
5. How many non-alc drinks can you fit in one day? (I’m trying to cap it at 3).
Depends on the context and what your habits are! We will take a bottle or two of sparkling to an event and drink them in the same way you would alcohol, topping up our glass over the night. RTD’s are a lot easier to drink…we literally have zero rules around this, we try to just eat and drink intuitively!
6. What are you loving from your brands right now?
We’re a sucker for good branding and photography, that’s always a draw card for us with the products that we decide to carry. Now that we have a solid collection of brewers and wine-makers who cover the reliable classics, we’re keen to focus on new and innovative products coming onto the scene…people doing exciting, unexpected flavours & recipes spark excitement for us!
7. We know non-alc is booming, but is there still a stigma around drinking less? Or people doubting your success being alc-free?
It seems, at least anecdotally, that pressure to drink has started to soften in adult spaces. Drinking rates in Australia are at their lowest in decades. There’s always that one middle-aged bloke in the room that predictably laughs ‘A booze-free bottle shop? What’s the bloody point!’. That bewilderment is common when we initially mention the cellar to big drinkers because it opposes their own interests and social norms- it isn’t a business model that makes sense to everyone and that’s chill. The overall community & online response has been SO positive!
8. Tell us what you like about Etota?
We love that Etota is local to the Northern Rivers- that’s rare for the low&no alc industry and it’s something that people are so obsessed with. More importantly though, the unique flavour profile was a big yes from us. We carry a lot of sweet, bubbly products (‘cause…baby showers) so including a sophisticated, bittersweet product rounded out the whole collection.
9. Anything you would like us to do / explore / change / be open to?
I think you guys have all the bases covered:)
10. What do you think we will see next for non-alcs in Australia?
Kegs have to be the next step in Aus, surely? We predict that booze-free beer will become more common on tap in pubs and bars! 11. Favourite thing about what you do? We both spent YEARS working for other people so having complete creative and financial control is the best bit for us. It’s terrifying but also an ideal that we would be VERY reluctant to ever give up. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves and each other building these businesses and the relationships that we now have with our wholesalers…seeing our ideas materialise has made us feel quite unstoppable actually. 12. Will we see more Sunnyboys around Australia? Look, we have a LOT of business ideas and we’re always trying to weed out the weird ones so that we can focus on the goodies haha You’re likely to see more from us in the future but the jury’s still out on what shape those businesses will take!