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Visit our store 1 Commercial St. Maidstone Open Thursday – Sunday 10am-3pm

meet our family

Certified Plant Nanay | Owner & Founder

Darlene Ladio

Ilokana-Swiss roots embraced by the warmth of the Australian sun.

Born amidst the scenic beauty of La Union, Phillipines at just two weeks old, Darlene was entrusted to the caring hands of relatives while her mother returned to work.

"I was raised in Pangasinan, Philippines, Nanay Baring, my guardian, instilled in me a profound respect for nature's wisdom, as a way of life. Growing up in a farming village, our survival depended on our connection with nature and by being resourceful.

Together, Nanay Baring and Darlene strolled through the lively 'palengke' or wet market, where she assisted in selling the abundant vegetables cultivated by their family and village, unknowingly nurturing her entrepreneurial spirit at a tender age.

At the age of 11, she embarked on a life-changing journey migrating to Australia with her mother. Armed with little English, this young Filipina migrant set out to understand the unfamiliar Western culture and to find her place in this new world.

It was the magic of motherhood that ignited a spark within Darlene, inspiring her to sow the seeds of Green Empire St. With the support of her family, she opened her first retail store in Sunshine North, a sanctuary where Darlene's Filipino heritage intertwined harmoniously with her partner's Samoan roots.

Tahanan is the continuation of Green Empire St and continues to bear the fruits of her labour."

Today, Darlene exudes pride in her heritage and the harmonious fusion of cultures that make her who she is. With every plant and idea she nurtures, she celebrates the diversity that enriches her life, mirroring the vibrant tapestry of her own ancestry.

"Today, I stand tall as a testament to the unyielding spirit of a Filipina migrant."

Learn more @greenempirest

Workshop Curator

Lauren Nguyen

"A spoonful of Aussie Vegemite in a fusion Asian curry best describes my cultural background. I was born and raised in Australia with immigrant parents from Laos and Vietnam."

If you ever meet Lauren, you'll immediately feel an inexplicable sense of kinship. Lauren's warm and familiar aura leads people to believe that she might have been a Pinay in her past life, effortlessly connecting with individuals from all backgrounds. It's as if she carries the warmth and familiarity of a close friend, making everyone feel at ease in her presence. Whether you come from near or far, Lauren effortlessly finds common ground with her infectious smile, unwavering patience, and natural charm.

"There was a sense of calling through my conversations and interactions with others. Something more profound than I understood at times, but I knew if I continued to harness this strength, it would direct me to where I needed to be in life. Following this intuition has led me through an array of industries, and if you know me well, you would know I love learning new skills and have many hobbies."

Lauren's heart is deeply woven with her community, and she's a firm believer in giving back. As a workshop curator at Tahanan, she creates enriching experiences and nurtures creativity. But her passion doesn't end there – she extends her support to local small businesses, helping them flourish and thrive. Her love project, Dokmai, fosters creativity and connections within the community, making a lasting impact on those she touches.

"Home has always been in the western suburbs of Melbourne, where cultural diversity flourishes. Being surrounded by different cultures and people from all walks of life led to traveling to discover the world's hidden mysteries and what I was here to learn. Through these experiences, I found my passion for connection and communication."

So, the story of Lauren is one of cultural fusion, exploration, and a genuine love for people.

Learn More @laurennguyen

Store Assistants | Muse | Inspiration

Sia & Aoife

A lot of what we do is based on these two little humans that have been entrusted in our care, by the gods of the universe.

To sustain, create a life lived in harmony between work, family, creativity and business.

Once upon a time at Tahanan, the coziest and most kid-friendly store in town, there were two adorable store assistants who made every visit a delightful experience. Meet Sia, a lively and imaginative six-year-old, and her little sidekick, Aoife, a curious and friendly one-year-old baby.

They both love skateboarding, exploring and getting creative with anything they have at hand.

Learn more


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