This store stands for an honest connection to food. It stands as a place where you won’t find traditional retail gimmicks, smoke and mirrors. It is the place where I just talk to you about the most compelling farms I find in this country, keep you in the very real food revolution topics that shape the journey and then try and connect you to the best of what I’ve found. It’s the place where I sit in conversation with you about why we do what we do and why I support the farmers I do. The most sustainable farms in that I find, get excited about, tell you about and then get on with trying to connect you to their produce through this store.
Over and over again you tell me that what you love about this store is that you don’t have to read labels, and you can trust the food. This comes about because I connect you to the truth of me, I tell the good, the bad, the ugly. I don’t gloss over the bad news, the difficult conversations and I have never tried to hide the difficulties.
How can I sell honest food if I don’t communicate in an entirely honest way? Not a cute way, not a popular way, I’m not here to be popular, I’m here to be real and just connect you to my passion for great food and the best farms.
I tell you when things are rough, I tell you when I’m so excited about a new farm I could spit, I tell it like it is.
Raw and freaking unedited.
Whilst this might raise the hackles of traditional marketers who are focused on the old paradigm that is nothing less than trying to manipulate people’s opinions through making things appear more compelling than they are – I am not here to please the masses, nor to fit into what the mainstream wants and certainly not here to manipulate. I am not here to sell you product or an image of ‘sameness’. I am here to inspire connection.
Connection to an authentic and honest view of the farmers behind your food.
In the past two weeks – we have had a series of very real cosmic smacks. My definition of a cosmic smack is when a very dire lesson you need to learn comes at you in rapid succession usually in a set of 3 slaps – asking you to wake up to something you need to learn rapidly.
They are always sore and they need to be – and yet cosmic smacks are best friends at the end of the day – forcing you into the growth you need to get to the next evolvement. They also smash open visibility to your own blind spots and shed light on any illusions you’ve been holding.
So the good news is that this cosmic smack has been about the need to be far more circumspect about who I trust with the heart and soul of this business. It has been about lessons I need to learn to prepare for the new store. I shudder to think where I would have been if I hadn’t have learnt what I did – the hard way – in a larger space.
We need more controls and I need to protect the interests of this very special business from anything that weakens it. Because it is so special.
When people break trust – I will never ever take out from that – that trusting makes me an idiot. I am selling trust. I have as many examples of trust well placed as I do of trust handled recklessly.
What you see in this store after our two-week ship wreck is the people left who have never betrayed it.
What I have to accept is that because this is the sacred heart beat of this business – that there are people who won’t respect that and will abuse it. So I’m knee deep in an exercise right now of building in controls into this business that protects itself. I will never stop trading in trust because some people don’t know how to respect it as a language. Never. I will not mould my values to accommodate other people’s limitations.
What I will do though moving forward is ruthlessly cut out anybody who breaks it and make it harder for anybody to do so. I will be more circumspect about who I give it to and protect this business from harm with the right controls because it deserves that.
There are people that see the raw open vulnerability of our honesty and heart as weakness – people that misguidedly believe that the emotionality of this business makes it weak. Over and over again, people like that get evicted from the energy of this grid because this business is supported by heart – the heart of the customers and farmers that shape it. To the Machivelian characters running up and down the road causing ill feeling and bad will – please leave us alone.
I will not succumb to the stuff and nonsense of that idiotic game.
To anybody who wants to tell me in any shape or form that my voice needs to be edited, kindly too – leave us alone, I will never change these newsletters to anything other than the conversation they always were and to anybody telling us to be more ‘retail-like’ – you don’t understand us, and the answer is No. This is not the right store for you if you want retail gloss and efficiency. I’m here to serve people that value what we do and certainly not to follow the traditional nonsense of commercial retail.
No amount of logic and rational can compete with the energy of heart, soul and passion.
My most loyal customers have come in with the same message over the past two weeks – please don’t change who you are. I heard you and it’s you I stand here for. I won’t change. I will evolve, I will grow in the places I need to – like being more protective of this business, like needing to be more in touch with the reins of the admin and the figures and being in more direct conversation with the story they tell me.
I will be more circumspect about who I give my heart to in our everyday. And I will still wear my heart on my sleeve.
Which brings me to the good news, related to why I think this seismic two-week smack happened now – in 40m2, before we get to a larger space where quite honestly, I would have struggled if I didn’t build in the controls we have too now. Why I say cosmic smacks are always friendly b*stards really.
The new store.
Remember when I asked you to give me your feedback about what you want to see from a new store? I asked you how you feel about us in this location, whether you would want to see us in another, what you do when you’re in Bryanston, why you come to us, what you come to us for, whether you would want the harvest table eatery concept, etc?
The overwhelming response told us that you want us to stay here. That despite Bryanston being a place where there are more places where you buy alternative food – you are very clear that you go to all of us for very different reasons. That we’re condensed is the reason you will travel from further to get to Bryanston because once you’re here there are many places you can visit.
So to cut the entire story short – only because I’m pressed for time this morning – we are indeed going to stay here and expand the store in this very space.
It would be utterly absurd to not take advantage of the beautiful view on this car-park to build an eatery here where you can sit outside and the parking here is another thing you told us you love – that you can park on the ample space of the roof and run in. You like the fact that this center isn’t congested and you don’t have to fight crowds and struggle to find parking and you love the view from this rooftop when you find it.
Bryanston Shopping Centre has been through a series of its own struggles, there was the renovation that was a disruption and since then it has battled to define itself. The renovation didn’t capitalize on this outside space with one of the best views in Joburg and it’s in another spell of redefining itself. The feedback from you on what you wanted had impact on Redefine. They listened and want to help us create just the right space for you and they are excited and committed to create something fresh and different in this space. It’s beautiful and ironic right now that the company behind this center is called ‘Redefine’.
So the long and the short of it is that we will be knocking into the store next door next year to give us space for a larger store where we can offer more. For the first time in the history of this business, I’m actually in a place where I have more supply and more farmers now than I do space to sell their produce in. Which is one of the most sacredly beautiful problems I’ve ever had to face in 8 years.
So by knocking through to the store next door – we get the length of this space running parallel to Café Del Sol – a wide corridor and the store we’re in now will become the harvest table eatery space opening up onto the roof. I wish I could tell you more but I’m up to my eyeballs at the moment and I’m going to have to rein in the words. The store and harvest table eatery will have a bakery built into it that will be run by the fairy God-mother of organic grain and sourdough baking – I shall announce her closer to the time but this very fairy God-mother is actually in our catering kitchen right now trialing sourdough with James Moffett’s flour. The bakery will contain the heart and energy of James Moffett’s farming and this very special lady and it’ll all be run on an oven that powers on wood and grass clippings. It will focus on heirloom and organic grains, on the revival of sorghum and millet and organic sourdough pizza bases as well as gluten free pizza bases based on good original grains – organic and heirloom.
So that’s where we’re at – we have much, much work and planning ahead to get ready for this but this will be a reality next year and an evolution of our space. I wanted this store to be a place where you don’t have to read labels and now it’ll evolve to include a harvest table eatery where you can eat the most nutrient dense food I can find, lovingly and beautifully prepared in our honest – it is what it is – atmosphere.
To those of you who have supported us through all our trials and who come here because you value what we do and see who we are, and who value the newsletters because you value the honest conversation – I write for you.
Thank You for being you and for cheering us on and staying with us, with heart. To those of you who abused trust, wanted us to be anything different to what we are and who just don’t get us, please leave us alone, this store isn’t for you.
We are not prostitutes to public opinion and I will sell no part of my soul – for anybody. My voice and soul belong to the farmers I stand for and those of you who support them.
It is for people who value the substance of a thing and who are looking for connection in all its real, raw and honest permutations – the good, the bad and the ugly.
We are going to be having very exciting conversations going forward about why James Moffett’s flour has just evolved the real bread and grain conversation to a place of giddy heights for the purists amongst us.
It changes the conversation about wheat and bread entirely and I’ll be focusing on that shortly. Let me run on though while we have trials for a sandwich bread for lunch-boxes made with organic sourdough – happening as we speak. I can’t wait to tell you about our fairy God-mother behind this – those of you who have been a part of the food revolution for years know her well – but I’ll zip it for now until we’re ready to announce it and try not to break out in a rash doing so. Secrets are not my strong point.
Watch out for the start of my vlog – I have so many snippets of things I want to tell you in a day and the newsletter can’t even begin to cover it – so a vlog allows me to quickly chat to you directly without you having to read and that’ll be coming soon.
With gratitude to the ones that stay and the ones I need to let go of, for the lessons and the growth – much love to you; and a goodbye to others.
Much love to you and a goodbye to others,