Hampton parents Max and Sarah Shatkhin are the new owners of Brighton’s coolest (literally) Gelateria, Little Sky, which opened in January. From its stunning interior to their house-made, all natural gelato, this little store is a total winner! But starting a gelato store from scratch is no easy feat, especially whilst juggling jobs, life and two kids. We chat to Max and Sarah about bringing their gelato dream to life.

Firstly, quickly tell us a bit about yourself and your two kids.

We’re locals who love living in Bayside. We have two girls aged 5 and 8.  

What were you both up to work wise before the idea for Little Sky came about?

Max was in the cabinet making industry (hence the attention to detail in shop fit out!) and after selling his business he was looking for a fresh start. We always wanted to take the kids to a local ice-cream place that didn’t use artificial colours or flavours, and that we wanted to hang out in. We had ideas about running the most environmentally sustainable business as possible that also had an element of giving back to the community. I work in marketing which I love and I’ve kept my day job, while Max’s focus is now 100% on running Little Sky.

Max, you travelled to Italy to learn the true art of gelato. What was this experience like?

After thinking we’d be making ice-cream after some investigation we landed on getalo. It turns out gelato has less sugar and fat compared to ice cream.  Gelato also has a more intense flavour than ice-cream, and because gelato is served at a lower temperature it feels smoother in the mouth. Max stayed for a month near Turin, Italy learning how to be a gelato chef with people from all around the world – it was a truly great experience.

Tell us about the ingredients you use and where they come from.

It takes a little community to create amazing gelato. Wherever possible, we source our quality ingredients from people who believe in what they do and we are always looking at ways to improve our supply chain and it’s carbon footprint. Our gelato is made daily, completely natural and we never use those off-the-shelf factory powder mixes. We use seasonal fruit, milk from Schultz Organic Dairy and Heilala vanilla (organic and sustainably sourced). Our chocolate is from Ratio Cocoa who make their chocolate, from bean to bar, in Brunswick.

Being environmentally responsible is also a priority for Little Sky. Tell us what you are achieving here and how?

We think it all adds up, no matter how small the action. We minimise waste by re-using, recycling or composting (in-house) and making choices that will have the least impact on the environment, like choosing green power.  Reality is that means we make less money but we are totally ok with that. Climate change is a massive issue for us all and we think we all need to do our bit wherever we can.

Tell us about your link with the Royal Children’s Hospital?

Our youngest daughter got viral meningitis when she was just one week old. This led to myocarditis (which is unusual, the virus moved into the heart and inflamed the heart muscle) and a stay at the RCH for some time.  It was a scary period in our lives and we are forever grateful that we live in a city that has a hospital like the RCH. So we decided that we’d give a proportion of the shop income to the RCH, plus help any local community organisations as best we can at the time. It goes back to the theory, no matter what the size of the contribution, it all adds up.

It took a long time to find your shop. What happened?

We naively thought that finding a shop would be the easy part seeing how there are quite of lot of empty shops around Bayside. 10 months later we finally, finally, found the right sized shop in the right location. And the best part… it’s owned by these two lovely Italian guys (yes, seriously, Italians!). It was a match made in gelato heaven.

So you’ve got your building, what happens next?

Part of what we wanted to achieve with Little Sky was to create a place that people felt good in. It had to feel welcoming, friendly and be a great place to hang out. We knew that interior design had a critical role to play in creating this so we teamed up with the talented designers at Ewert Leaf. When it came to the building part we did some of the work ourselves but most of it was left to the professionals. The exciting part is seeing it all come together!

What do the kids think about owning a gelato store?

To quote them “GREAT!”.

What’s your fave thing about being a parent?

The cuddles, the laughs and the refreshing honesty.

What are your favourite go-to’s in Bayside for food and fun?

Il Forno in Hampton Street (the best pizza around – we take it away), Y14 in Sandringham and Zepplin Café in Bay Street, Brighton. For fun, Thomas Street park and Rickett’s Point beach are always winners!

Finally, where can we find you?

Little Sky Gelateria Brighton. 332 Bay Street Brighton littleskygelato.com.au