Food & Drink

Published: September 30, 2021 | Updated: October 1, 2021

Introducing our new columnist Heather Brown with Bobby’s and South Coast Makers Market

By Andrew Diprose, editor

Welcome to our brand new Food & Drink category – and our brilliant new monthly columnist Heather Brown.

Heather is the Owner of Dorset Foodie Feed, the county’s top food & drink website.

From today Dorset Foodie Feed and Dorset Biz News will be working collaboratively.

We’ll share food & drink news features across both our platforms, helping to support and encourage the food and hospitality sectors by bringing positive news stories to our respective audiences.

Heather’s passion for food started early.

In fact, she has been working in and around the food and events industry since the age of 16, starting her first food business at 24 and is now a member of the Guild of Food Writers.

In the last 20 years, Heather has run successful baking and catering businesses, organised and styled events, created food products to sell online, worked in and with cafes, created delicious looking food and styled photo shoots, edited and run a successful food blog and social media pages, built websites for food brands and created recipes for brands and magazines.

Heather has run Dorset Foodie Feed since 2018 and began writing reviews for the website in 2015.

Alongside its acclaimed Directory, with over 650 businesses listed and searchable by location, Dorset Foodie Feed features curated lists of amazing restaurants and cafes to visit as well as in depth reviews and delicious recipes.

Dorset Foodie Feed is the best place to discover new food businesses right on your doorstep and to help you discover parts of Dorset you may never have visited before.

You’ll find Heather’s site at dorset.foodiefeed.co.uk

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And so to this month’s column from Heather and she writes…

It has been a joy to see the food and drink sector begin to show signs of flourishing this summer as restrictions lifted completely and many of our much loved food festivals returned to Dorset too.

Whilst the pandemic has made things extremely difficult for the sector, what has been beautiful to see was how local businesses began to work together, both in the initial lockdowns, but also in larger, more permanent collaborations since.

A major project that launched this month was Bobby & Co in Bournemouth.

Taking over the empty Debenhams building and drawing on the history of the former Bobby & Co store, the first phase of the development opened to the public on September 9 (you can read more about the opening here).

Taking time to gently peel back the 70’s plasterboard, developers have uncovered beautiful  original features and in the same thoughtful way, developers have reached out to pull together a  lovely curated combination of both local and international brands, food concessions and an art gallery.

One of those is the South Coast Makers Market concession run by Jo, Kat & Adam.

South Coast Makers Market runs a number of initiatives designed to draw together and help showcase local makers and artists, including a loyalty scheme and a number of markets.

They have also extended this to now include a permanent concession stand inside Bobbys & Co, where you can buy products from local producers and artists.

It’s a brilliant way to introduce small local businesses to a high street with large and often very expensive premises.

I reached out to Jo, pictured with Kat, to find out more about the South Coast Makers Market.

Q: South Coast Makers Market does a fabulous job at bringing together local artists and makers and helping to showcase them to customers – what made you start your journey?

A: I love handmade craft and design and was very fortunate to study textiles, ceramics and metalwork in the 90’s when many traditional craft degrees were closing. Since then I have been exhibiting my work at galleries and trading at markets and festivals.

I was trading at London markets but my children were young and it was a juggle at weekends as I needed childcare help from my family, but I couldn’t find a suitable Bournemouth market like the ones I was used to trading at in London.

When I was young my dad was always running events and fundraisers in my school/church hall in Boscombe so inspired by him I booked a date for a Christmas market in the same hall, roped in my sister Kat and husband Adam to help, designed a poster, taught myself how to build a very simple website and that was the start of South Coast Makers!

Q: What is the best thing about what you do?

A: It’s the people I meet. I love the community vibe that has built up around the markets. No matter how tired I am at the end of a market, I always feel hugely inspired by all the amazing conversations I’ve had with customers and makers.

Q: The pandemic has had such a huge impact on this sector – how can people help support local artists and makers?

A: For some people the pandemic gave them time and I’m seeing an explosion of new, small businesses centred around home-based creativity. It’s one of the positives that have come out of this difficult time.

The main ways to support local artists and makers is to consider purchasing or commissioning their work, book onto their courses, engage with them on social media, share their business with your friends and come and support them at events such as South Coast Makers. A friendly conversation can make or break a trading experience when you’re a first time exhibitor at a market!

Q: What plans do you have for South Coast Makers Market in the future?

A: Well, I seem to have a never ending supply of ideas and projects for South Coast Makers!

We’ve just opened our first permanent concession on the ground floor of Bobby & Co in the centre of Bournemouth, pictured, and have exciting plans on how to grow and develop that space, offering demonstrations, classes and pop ups.

I also want to carve out some time this autumn to grow the Keep it LOCAL loyalty card – it’s a high street discount card we set up that shines a light on independent business. We also recently  commissioned a selection of local artists and makers to create our first range of greeting cards and will be launching them very soon.

Plus I’ve met to discuss converting our retro caravan into a portable pop up makers shop to bring to festivals next year. So there’s a lot of exciting creative projects we’re working on right now.

Q: How can people find out more about you and your markets?

A: The website is a great place to start Southcoastmakers.com Our social media pages on Instagram and Facebook are @southcoastmakersmarket …and you can visit our shop in Bobby’s Bournemouth!

Our website also has all the upcoming dates for our markets this autumn and winter, but the next one is this weekend – Saturday and Sunday October 2 and 3 – hosted on the 1st floor of Bobby & Co.

We’ll see you there…

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Bobby & Co may have only opened to the public a small portion of their store at the moment, but I’m looking forward to seeing how Bobby’s develop the rest of their large premises over the coming months and years and hope that it will be the inspiration that Bournemouth needs to bring some new life to the town centre.

As the hospitality and retail sectors have a moment to catch a breath, between the summer and Christmas seasons, now is a great time to show your support to your local and favourite businesses.

As Jo mentioned above, now is the time to reach out, write them a review, book a table and share their social posts. It’s been a tough few months for many local business owners and many of them, along with their Head Chefs and team, will be feeling it.

If you are looking for local businesses to discover, then Dorset Foodie Feed hosts a searchable Directory of over 650 local businesses across Dorset, as well as reviews, recipes and curated lists of recommendations.

If you work in the hospitality industry, and are struggling and need some help, then The Burnt Chef Project offer a number of ways that you can receive some free support.

Visit their website at theburntchefproject.com or you can access their free, 24/7 support service by texting BURNTCHEF to 85258.

Until next month…

Heather Brown

Dorset Foodie Feed

heather-brown.com