Story by Vivienne Pearson
Byron Shire holds many stories of reinvention. Paola Zlatar’s story is one, taking her from being a child of a crocodile hunter, to being a vet in Chile, to selling ice-cream in northern NSW.
Paola was born in Australia – her Chilean parents were here for a few years thanks to her father’s unusual work. She considered Chile home and stayed there through her early adult life, qualifying and working as a vet. Her big change came when, as she describes: ‘One day I woke up and decided I’d finished with Chile.’ She was on her way to Australia within a week.
On the plane trip, she started to question her decision. ‘I was sitting with a US couple on one side, and an Aussie guy on the other,’ she recalls.
‘I understood everything the couple said and not one word of the guy.’ Her love of surfing and wildlife gave her hope and, when a friend took her to Byron Bay for the weekend, she knew she’d made the right choice.
‘I did a bit of everything in order to stay here,’ she says of her time waitressing, as well as teaching and doing photography with a surf school. Unable to work as a vet without returning to university, she uses her skills volunteering for WIRES.
Working for herself and running a business didn’t come as naturally as her decision to move here.
‘I come from a culture where you work for 25 years in the same business,’ she says. Entrepreneurs are very unusual in my family.’ Yet, with an ex-partner, she found herself selling ice-cream at markets and, after the relationship ended, she continued on with some aspects of the business.
She loves it. ‘I get on well with kids and I get to deal with happy people,’ she says. The cute, candy-striped Baylato van can be seen at markets and festivals in this area and she also sets up at the Brisbane Eat Street Market. Weddings are a growing part of her work. ‘Gelato is the new wedding cake,’ she says.
The name Baylato was selected from over 50 entries in a Facebook competition. ‘I wanted it to be something about Byron Bay and something about gelati,’ she says. Baylato was the pefect combination.
Facebook: Baylato or phone 0415 679 452.