Tucked on a South Yarra backstreet lies Mannix, a three-in-one plant shop, ceramics gallery and cafe. Its namesake, Kimberley Mannix, opened the tiny urban jungle earlier this year with her partner, Jonnie Elliot – with a handmade, hyperlocal ethos.

Pre-lockdown, you could find Elliot cutting hair next door to Mannix at his salon, Elliot and Co. Now he’s also focusing on another interest – indoor plants – to help Mannix with the shop. “I did a fine arts degree at university and majored in ceramics,” Mannix says. “We wanted to combine both of our passions”.

After opening, the couple was approached by local barista Sara Marshall, who closed her cafe during Melbourne’s first lockdown. They joined forces, and Marshall now serves Genovese coffee and homemade baked goods inside Mannix under the Ralston Espresso banner. “She gets up at 6am to bake her own muffins, and they’re already sold out by 10am,” Mannix says.

The shop’s dark blue walls and abundance of greenery make for a cool, calm space, encouraging south-siders to stop by, grab a coffee and linger, browsing while they wait. As well as handmade ceramics, it stocks a range of Mannix’s hand-poured, refillable candles, which she says have become a hit with locals.

“Everything I do is all about remaining ethical, minimising waste and creating quality products,” she says. “Even all the furniture in the shop is from buy, swap and sell groups, Facebook Marketplace or antique shops. We’ve tried not to purchase anything new.”

Along with outdoor seating for when dine-in returns this week, Mannix will soon have a coffee – and wine, once the liquor license comes through – window. “Over summer we can pump up the tunes, and people can hang out in our little urban jungle or sit outside and have a coffee or even a glass of wine”, says Mannix.

The couple also started a plant consultancy and styling side hustle in response to demand from customers. They’ve already kitted out more than a dozen businesses and homes around South Yarra, with a view to keeping the momentum going after lockdown.

Mannix and Ralston Espresso
43 Ralston Street, South Yarra

Mon closed
Tues to Sun 9am–5pm

Ralston Espresso

Mon closed
Tues to Sun 7.30am–3.30pm