is the marketing manager for the Fourways Farmers’ Market. She tells us how, together with her husband Greg and their team, they grew a small country market and nursery into one of the most successful markets in Joburg.
‘When we purchased the old nursery, we never planned on it catching the attention of so many people. We just wanted a small additional country market to accompany the nursery and give it a more artisanal feel. The original land was literally a field of long grass, filled with broken nursery equipment, which Greg transformed into the exquisite garden it is today. The market grew through word of mouth because of its beautiful garden and amazing vendors, and eventually it was so busy we decided to close the nursery and focus only on the market.
‘We started with very little budget and no one knew who we were in the beginning, so we were very grateful to the vendors who stuck with us in those early quiet days, and are still with us today. Although we weren’t an overnight success, word of mouth has definitely contributed to our growth and popularity. Social networking has been an incredible way for us to communicate with our patrons and draw attention to our vendors and small business owners, who have all become our little market family. We’re always looking for entrepreneurs who are committed to their brand and are innovative, consistently prioritising their products. And most of all, we want people who come with concepts that are original and local, in line with the Fourways Farmers’ Market (FFM) brand. That’s an important factor for entrepreneurs who want to explore markets: they have to identify one that will complement the vision for their brands and have the right audience for their products.
‘Initiative and effort also go a long way, because as a business person, you have a strong influence over how well your product does. A market is not a shopping centre where your product will just magically fall off the shelves into the consumers’ hands. You have to be passionate about it and actively sell it.
‘Branding is vital, which goes hand in hand with the look and feel of your stall. You want to attract people to a complete sensory experience. This takes time and you may not do well in the first month, that’s why commitment and perseverance are essential, as well as listening to and identifying your target market.
‘I like to look at markets as a new economy and way of life. Customers want to meet the creators of the products they’re purchasing and consuming, and are demanding a more personal experience. They also want to know where the product comes from, and are leaning towards local manufacturing that is good for the environment, the community, and for themselves. The term artisanal seems to be synonymous with quality, love and care, in the same way that something ‘homemade’ is.
‘There is an alchemy that happens when you combine the perfect setting with the ideal vendors.
‘Being a landscape architect, Greg has this amazing ability to identify spaces with the potential to be turned into something wonderful, which we then fuse together with my marketing and advertising skills.
‘The positive reviews and mentions we get on online platforms and elsewhere are a good confirmation we’re on the right track and also encourage new people to visit the market. Our key to success has definitely been our ability to constantly reinvent ourselves. We’ve recently opened Market on the Square at the Nelson Mandela Square and we’re building another exciting market and farm in Waterfall Park.’