Meet Jules Harris, the master of pesto!
(*And slow-food producer, artisanal chef, business owner and food philosopher.)
The Journey of our partner, The Real Food Factory
Our Seeds of Change, Food Lover’s Market Supplier Development Partnership programme is spending time on our suppliers, to tell the story of their journey. And, to hopefully aid other local suppliers on their growth path. Our first partner we are focussing on is Jules Harris, artisanal chef, food philosopher and owner of The Real Food Factory, and creator of the Food Lover’s house brand pesto. As we are kicking off in August, Women’s Month, it is a perfect match to focus on this all-female team.
The Real Food Factory first met with Food Lover’s Market in February 2019. It was an 8- month process until the product launched in the Western Cape in December 2019. It grew to be stocked nationwide in April 2020, and most recently in June 2021, our customers in Namibia can find it in their stores.
Food Lover’s Market took on 4 of The Real Food Factory’s pesto sauces: basil, sundried tomato & shiitake, hemp seed and coriander and, rocket and hemp seed. The range is growing again and customers can look forward to 2 new flavours in September this year (2021), exotic mushroom and olive and hemp.
When telling us a little bit about the onboarding process of meeting with a buyer and getting onto the shelves, her first advice is to be brave. She explains that it takes time to go through the process.
Jules Harris says, “It is important to nurture a good relationship and understanding with the buyer for your department. There is always learning to understand the different stakeholders throughout the business, from the distribution centres, buyers, accounts etc that need different things from you.”
What is the social impact of your business?
JH: Through our growth, we have tripled our staff component from our first days, and increased our space from a garage in Kommetjie, a smaller factory in Woodstock and where we are now in our 280sqm space in Capricorn Park, Muizenberg. Looking back into my supplier chain, I have had to harvest more products and therefore I am able to take on more farmers.
Jules speaks of her company as an “exit strategy”, a way for the excess product from the farms to be used up, and given a longer life. She tells a story of how one of her farmers could take on an additional 6 field workers, based on her order. This is the story and direct impact of how growth positively extends up and down the supply chain when we choose to buy from small, local businesses.
Her advice to other organisations and businesses that would like to be a supplier to Food Lover’s Market:
JH: I have many entrepreneurs ask me how I have grown from a farmers’ market to where we are now and I say: It is not only about having a good product, it is about having the supply and logistics in place to be able to supply a big supermarket.
She notes that she, in fact, did not have the factory when she approached Food Lover’s Market, but she had farmers ready to supply the amounts she would need when the order came. She hints that if you don’t have this part of the journey worked out, a buyer will definitely notice.
To share 3 tips from her 2019 interview:
- Tip 1: Find the right people to surround yourself with. People that will help you and your brand with the things you are not 100% sure how to do yourself. Here she quotes Richard Branson: ‘If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!’
- Tip 2: When planning to meet with companies, be sure to know your facts. If you can give them facts, passion and confidence, you can be sure to make an impression.
- Tip 3: Stand your ground but also be willing to compromise if the need arises.
Read our 2019 interview to hear more about her food philosophy.