We’re back with our favourite segment, Locals by Locals — your go-to guide for all things eat, drink, see and do whilst on your Sydney staycation (or vacation). This time around, we’re scooping the intel from two supremely inventive local makers and sisters, Isabel and Madeleine Hoy, of the ever so iconic concept candle shop, Nonna’s Grocer.
The store is located in perhaps one of the most happening cultural hubs of-the-moment, Central station’s Eddy Avenue — alongside a whole swag of thriving new businesses and creative spaces. It’s a bustling hive of live music, event and cinema pop ups, art galleries and pizza-clubs (yep).
The Eddy Avenue hub launched late in 2022 and, amidst this diverse array of tenants, Nonna’s Grocer stands out as a complete trailblazer on the scene, thanks to their exquisite and ever-so-fruity wax creations. From heirloom tomatoes to butter candles, these two creatives clearly have one hell of an imagination, and that’s exactly the kind of invigorating perspective we’re looking for when it comes to unearthing all that inner-Sydney has to offer.
Time to get acquainted…
You recently moved into your first bricks-and-mortar store. Congrats! Tell us about the first moment you knew you wanted to create and run your own business, and how that’s evolved more recently…
Thank you! I’ve always wanted to run my own business ever since I could remember. I just never knew what on earth it would be. It’s the sort of feeling I quietly held onto whilst I navigated the design industry, and finally at age 29, a concept came to mind, and I just lent right in and grew the business from there.
Describe the area — and the new-ish Eddy Avenue precinct — to someone from out of town:
We are inhabiting the beautiful old storefronts that are connected to Central station on Eddy Avenue. Each shop has beautiful Victorial details like stained glass windows and spiral staircases. They have been empty for years and Transport for NSW teamed up with Right Angle to reinvigorate the area and invited some up and coming businesses to move in.
“We can gobble up all the natural beauty of Sydney and never tire of it, but let’s face it, we need to re-invigorate our cultural identity and the best way to do so is through community, art and food.
Precincts like this are an essential way to define the feeling of an area, plus due to the low barriers to entry, more small businesses, creatives and makers are encouraged to participate, which means we get more voices, more personality and more connection to a place, which is essential for vitality, growth and cut-through for a bustling city like Sydney.”
What are your top 5 – 6 local must-sees/eats/experiences near the studio?
To our right, nestled in the Eddy plaza, we have Picnic central which fulfils all condiment dreams with the best toasties and delicious beverages.
To our left is City Oltra and their pizzas by the slice with a can of negroni spritz is a must!
We also love walking around the corner to Single Origin for a really good brew.
For an evening activity, we would highly recommend snagging a few tickets to a music performance at Phoenix Central (you just need to join the ballot) — drop into Ricos Tacos beforehand for some fried cauliflower and crab and tomato tostadas. If you would prefer to head Surry Hills way, check out Bar Suze or Gogyo for some delicious bites. It’s such a central location, with so many amazing things in every direction.
How do you envision the future growth and impact of these urban creative spaces on a city like Sydney?
We can gobble up all the natural beauty of Sydney and never tire of it, but let’s face it, we need to re-invigorate our cultural identity and the best way to do so is through community, art and food.
Precincts like this are an essential way to define the feeling of an area, plus due to the low barriers to entry, more small businesses, creatives and makers are encouraged to participate, which means we get more voices, more personality and more connection to a place, which is essential for vitality, growth and cut-through for a bustling city like Sydney.
What’s next on the horizon for Nonna’s Grocer?
Our project pipeline is constantly growing and changing, but for now we can reveal that we have some exciting collaborations ahead (hint: in the dairy family) and we cannot wait to share our scented candle range we have been working on for over a year. Exciting times ahead!
What are you reading right now?
A bit late to the party but just finished the audiobook Taste by Stanley Tucci. Not only is his voice smooth and charismatic, but he whispers recipes into your ears whilst giving you lovely film industry anecdotes. The perfect ‘wine in the bath’ kind of evening.
Top 3 fruits and vegetables you’d like to wax-ify but haven’t yet had the chance to?
The peach. It needs to happen but she’s tricky as she has so many peachy colours to her. Cabbage. I just think it would look crispy and make a great centrepiece.
A pickle, but hard to make it not look too phallic. These are the things that we think about day to day.
Who or what’s inspiring you right now?
We love seeing brands like Jacquemus come to life. He’s a really beautiful storyteller with his clothes. We can’t afford them but love seeing how he creates more than clothes with his work. He’s so good at creating a feeling around a brand which is really inspiring. Also loving the new Alison Roman cookbook. Her recipes are unique and uncomplicated, and we love being a part of her Instagram community that she engages with in such an authentic way.
One last one — you’ve got an interstate friend coming to visit Sydney for the first time — they’re staying at The Old Clare and you’re the tour guide — where would you take them and why?
Brickfields for coffee and a croissant, we love it there. Followed by furniture browsing at Cult because it’s just fun to look and they showcase some incredible Australian designers. Followed by some art at White Rabbit. The building is exceptional and the art is always mind blowing (and it’s free). We would then have lunch at Rico’s Tacos because they are delicious. . Followed by a stroll in the arvo down Eddy Avenue, for some candle shopping (too cheeky to suggest our shop?!) and then CantinaOk! for a moment in the CBD and some incredible cocktails.
You’re staying in The Old Clare Hotel — what room are you staying in?
I would pick the Chippendale Loft. I love the coloured carpet, and it’s the kind of place I could imagine pretend-owning which is fun. A girl can dream.
Breakfast in bed or breakfast in tub?
If only we could be in two places at once! Breaky in bed, followed by the tub straight after!
The most important object in your studio?
We have a set of Soft Edge mugs which we absolutely love!
Five must haves this winter?
An avocado candle, woollen socks, Gisou leave-in conditioner, The Littles Marula face oil, and an Aesther Ekme leather bag… yum.